- The economy is showing signs of weakness that should make the Federal Reserve think twice about raising interest rates, CNBC's Jim Cramer says.
- The central bank "would be nuts to keep tightening" after December's widely anticipated rate hike, he says.
- Even one more hike after that "is definitely going to hurt" the U.S. economy, the "Mad Money" host warns.
"There's enough conflicting evidence that the economy is slowing, perhaps even dramatically, that I think the Fed should wait and see before taking any additional action," he said on "Mad Money."
While U.S. employment is the strongest it's been in decades, Cramer has also seen distinct signs of economic deflation, or when the average prices of goods and services fall. Generally speaking, the Federal Reserve's task is to keep a lid on inflation, or the rise of said prices.
In recent months, Cramer noticed costs for various goods sliding in lockstep with recent declines in oil prices. Both home prices and home sales have also declined, often a "prelude" to a downward spiral of lower and lower prices, he said.
Still, with "incredibly low jobless claims," rising employee wages and seemingly strong holiday retail sales, "it's easy to see" why the Fed would greenlight one more interest rate hike, Cramer said.
"I'll let the Fed give us the expected quarter-point hike next week, [but] it's not ideal," he said. "However, after that, they would be nuts to keep tightening, and even one more rate hike ... could be the rate hike too far."
Stocks traded in a tight range on Thursday as investors parsed the most recent updates from U.S.-China trade talks, including a Reuters report that cited President Donald Trump as saying that state-owned Chinese companies had resumed buying U.S. soybeans in an apparent show of good faith.
The Fed, an independent entity that presides over monetary policy, will host a Federal Open Market Committee meeting next week at which the central bank's leaders are expected to raise interest rates by a quarter point.
In recent weeks, Cramer has railed against the Fed's ranking members, including Trump-appointed Chairman Jerome Powell, for not doing their "homework" and forcing their own hand in terms of the December hike.