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Cramer says to think before you sell: 'It's not 2009'

Key Points
  • CNBC's Jim Cramer tells investors to keep the escalating trade war in perspective. 
  • "I urge people to just think about before they sell everything," Cramer says. "It's not 2009." 
  • Stock futures dropped on Monday evening, piling onto Wall Street's worst day of the year as trade-war fears ramped up. The sell-off began Friday after President Donald Trump surprised markets with new 10% tariffs on Chinese goods.
Jim Cramer
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Stocks were battered Monday as a wave of trade headlines added to investors' fears. Still, CNBC's Jim Cramer urged investors Monday to keep the tension in perspective.

"I urge people to just think about it before they sell everything," Cramer said Monday evening during CNBC's "Markets in Turmoil" special. "It's not 2009."

Stock futures dropped on Monday evening following Wall Street's worst day of the year as the trade war ramped up. Earlier Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2.9% and nearly 3%, respectively. The sell-off began Friday after President Donald Trump surprised markets with new 10% tariffs on Chinese goods. As retaliation, China reportedly said it could slap tariffs on U.S. agricultural products that it already bought, and pull out of U.S. agriculture completely.

Cramer said while investors shouldn't be "complacent," and that there "will be fallout" from the trade escalation, investors should be careful not to sell too quickly.

"I really want to urge people to think about what they're doing," Cramer said.

China, which has historically managed its currency, let the yuan break to its lowest level against the dollar in more than 10 years on Monday.

The Treasury Department labeled China as a currency manipulator on Monday evening, following tweets by the president with that same accusation. "This is a major violation which will greatly weaken China over time," Trump said. Later in the day, he tweeted that it is "now even more obvious to everyone that Americans are not paying for the Tariffs – they are being paid for compliments of China, and the U.S. is taking in tens of Billions of Dollars."

Despite the market's reaction, Cramer said parts of the trade war are justified.

"There's been a trade war we haven't fought for years, and now we're fighting back — President Trump feels we have more weapons than they do," Cramer said. "There comes a time where you can't devalue a currency three straight times."