Cramer explains why the sell-off is happening and what to do about it

  • A combination of tariffs and a Federal Reserve under attack caused Wednesday's dramatic sell-off, CNBC's Jim Cramer says.
  • The "Mad Money" host asks investors not to be rash amid the marketwide declines.

A combination of tariffs from the U.S.-China trade war and a Federal Reserve "that is under attack," but still has a too-aggressive agenda to hike interest rates, caused Wednesday's dramatic sell-off, CNBC's Jim Cramer said.

During the trading session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 erased their gains for the year and the Nasdaq experienced its worst day since 2011.

"A lot of people come on air and say the economy is strong," the "Mad Money" host said. "The economy's decelerating, perhaps even rapidly, and some of it has to do with trade."

Cramer said stocks are now starting to "build in the possibility" of profits being crimped by a worldwide slowdown. He also doubled down on his argument that the slowdown is "man-made" and an aftereffect of the Trump administration's tariffs on China and President Donald Trump's attacks on the Fed.

"The economy is slowing and the Fed is under a lot of pressure to stop raising rates from the president," he said. "If the president would stop talking about it, maybe [the Fed] could become more data-dependent. Right now, it's one gigantic game of chicken, and no one's going to be a winner."

Even so, Cramer called on investors not to be rash amid the widespread selling.

"As we go down another 2, 3, 4 percent, which is possible, people should be looking for bargains in high-quality companies," he advised. Earlier on Wednesday, he suggested keeping an eye on companies that have reported strong earnings.

"Companies that report great numbers are going down as much as those that report bad ones," he noted. "You know that doesn't last forever. [...] Make the list. Take a look at companies that did report great numbers that are going down along with all the others, and maybe that's what you begin to pick at, maybe even as soon as tomorrow."

WATCH: Why you shouldn't panic when stocks are getting slammed

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