- Jim Cramer weighs the pluses and minuses of investors taking cues from the bond market.
- The "Mad Money" host argues that while you should not ignore bonds, you should not let them be your sole market indicator.
- Cramer also tracks the reasons for why the bond market is signaling a slowdown.
Even though Jim Cramer hates bonds for how boring they are compared to stocks, he cannot discount their intelligence when it comes to predicting day-to-day market activity.
"Why should we trust bonds more than our own brains? A couple of reasons," the "Mad Money" host said. "First, bonds represent trillions of dollars of activity, much more money than the stock market. You ignore trillions of dollars of decision making and fire power at your own peril."
Second, bonds are typically right about the direction of the stock market, Cramer said. On Tuesday, investors watched as bonds rallied and interest rates fell, signaling a slowdown.
Cramer said these effects come with a dose of deflation, which he argued is worse for the economy than inflation.
And while the "Mad Money" host made a point of saying stocks are not doomed due to the bond market's signals, he stressed the importance of paying attention to bonds when they seem to suggest that demand is weak.
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In reality, Cramer's interpretation differs slightly from what many money managers might think, so he broke it down into three parts.
"First, bond buyers are transfixed by oil and its plunge down today to $43," Cramer said.
While oil's decline immediately spurs discussion of deflation, Cramer said this is likely to be a bottom for oil, where he sees steady demand despite producers pumping endlessly regardless of price.
"We can laugh, but Amazon's rampage is now getting out of control. This company is now wrecking the price structure of everything the consumer buys," Cramer said. "The whole consumer price index is being Amazon-ed and we're now at a moment where the Fed might need to acknowledge, 'Wait a second, Amazon's mowing down inflation to the point where maybe we don't need to raise rates anymore.'"
The third and final deflationary push is coming from Congress being unable to pass legislation on infrastructure or tax cuts, Cramer said.
Washington standstills like those push down the stocks of businesses that stand to gain from President Donald Trump's pro-growth agenda, another signal of economic slowing, Cramer said.
These three deflationary factors are instrumental in pushing down industrial, bank, technology and drug stocks, all names that would not exactly thrive in the face of a slowdown.
"The bonds were a cruel taskmaster today. We can't ignore them," the "Mad Money" host said. "However, we must not be enslaved by them either. Today, stocks were manacled to bonds. Tomorrow, bonds could take us in another direction, or they could be more positive about growth than they let on in this session. They do play it pretty close to the vest, you know. So I say don't ignore the bond market, but don't let it be your master. Common sense can always be a factor, too."
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