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Cramer rationalizes the sell-off — and says it's not happening because of Trump

  • "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer reacts to Wall Street's many reasons for Thursday's sell-off.
  • From Washington to earnings, market-watchers have offered various explanations for the pullback.
  • But none of their explanations seem to be enough to drag stocks lower, Cramer says.

Jim Cramer is no stranger to August sell-offs.

"Welcome, August. Where you been?" the "Mad Money" host exclaimed on Thursday. "For as long as I've been in this business, August has been a month where we have unexplained or inexplicable, sudden sell-offs, including nasty ones like today."

As the Dow Jones Industrial average fell more than 250 points intraday, experts blamed the decline on everything from President Donald Trump's tiff with the CEOs on his now-disbanded strategic councils to the earnings report from Dow component Cisco.

So Cramer decided to go over the market's many reasons for the decline and explain his reaction to each one.

Trump's CEO Problem

The first was the most obvious: investors were selling because they saw Trump's rift with business leaders as an obstacle to the president's economic agenda and thus to the bull market.

"If you're selling stocks because so many CEOs are getting off the Trump train, I've got a news flash for you: you need a better reason," Cramer said. "Trump's economic agenda is stalled because Congress can't get its act together. It can't even pass a debt ceiling bill. If the executive council dismissals is what makes you want to sell, you should've gotten out months ago."

Cramer argued that while the CEOs were in favor of some of the Trump agenda's key points, like tax reform and repatriation, they were more concerned about their shareholders and backing the president's highly controversial comments about the violent protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.

But their public departures did not constitute a reason to sell, he said.

Gary Cohn

The second-most cited reason for selling has been the rumor that one of Trump's top advisors, former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn, is preparing to step down from his role as head of the National Economic Council.

Cramer said that while his departure would justify investors taking profits, the White House's unequivocal denial of the rumor effectively erases any reason to sell on the reports.

"I certainly can see that Cohn's important enough to Trump's economic agenda that his leaving would really hurt the stock market," Cramer said. "But then again, the White House issued a statement saying he's not going anywhere, so it's not a particularly cogent reason to sell."

Earnings

The market may have shrugged off earnings from Cisco, but Cramer said that really only justified investors are selling their shares of Cisco. The tech giant's success hinged on how shareholders viewed its execution, not because there was a lack of demand for its products, he said.

Shares of Wal-Mart also slid after the retailer reported. Cramer thought it delivered an excellent quarter, and attributed the stock's decline to the market's already-high expectations.

Spain

The fatal terrorist attack in Barcelona where a van plowed into pedestrians, killing at least a dozen and injuring more than 50, may have shaken investors, but Cramer pointed out that if markets sold off on every terror attack, they would be below zero by now.

Final Thoughts

Cramer's reason for Thursday's sell-off was simpler than what he saw on his Twitter feed.

"It's August. It's slow. It's thin. It's time for vacation. Stocks have had a big move. Why not sell some?" the "Mad Money" host said. "I bet this sell-off isn't done. It could get uglier. We're due. I also believe we'll get a bunch of sell-offs like this one over the next six weeks because that's what happens every year at this time. I've been telling you this. So, if you haven't done so already, please sell your least favorite stocks tomorrow to raise some cash so that you'll be ready to pick up your most-favorites as they come down and become bargains."

And as markets recover from the second-worst day of the year for the Dow and S&P 500 indexes, Cramer asked that investors keep the "August sell-off" track record in mind.

"The calendar and these weak-handed momentum shareholders that have gone along for the ride have coalesced to produce a wave of selling," he said. "Now you have to ask yourself, will the president seize that as an excuse to deflect anyone who wants to link this decline to the White House, blame it on August? Why not? Beats blaming the CEOs who broke with the president, unless you're the kind of guy who just loves having someone to blame."

Watch the full segment: Cramer's take on the sell-off

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