Investors fretted on Monday about what would come of President Donald Trump's insistence on placing tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, but CNBC's Jim Cramer felt they were missing the big picture.
Yes, the president has reportedly been unsatisfied with the trade talks between the United States and China, and sure, his day-to-day hawkish proposals have not been well-received by Wall Street, Cramer acknowledged.
But to the "Mad Money" host, trying to gauge the actual impact of the tariffs meant looking at the overall market layout — specifically, comparing the U.S. market's performance with China's.
"Our economy may be doing just fine, and so's our stock market, but China? I see real problems and real worries," Cramer said Monday. "The Chinese stock market has fallen to its lowest level since November of 2014. In fact, it's now down 20 percent year to date, and I don't think it's found a bottom yet."
U.S. markets, on the other hand, are "booming," he said, noting that the S&P 500 has climbed 7.5 percent since the start of 2018, bolstered by healthy growth and limited inflation.
"If the tariffs so far are supposed to be hurting our economy, how is that possible?" he asked.
And, with the Trump administration considering lowering the tariff percentage to 10 percent on each item from 25 percent, Cramer wondered if they would hurt the U.S. economy at all.
"If this were a real problem, the retailers would be at or near their 52-week lows, not their 52-week highs," the "Mad Money" host said.
So, with strong employment, a healthy economy and most China-tied stocks trading as though there's little to worry about, U.S. markets seem to be resisting trade-war-induced panic, Cramer said.
"The pundits can fret about all they want about the trade-war saber-rattling, but the action in the stock market ... tells me that it's not cut-and-dry how much these issues do hurt business, especially not when you consider the red-hot state of our economy," the "Mad Money" host concluded.
"Maybe we need to take all these worries about the tariffs President Trump's slapping on Chinese imports, perhaps, with a grain of salt — maybe a whole container of Morton's Iodized."