Investing

I'm worried about industrials — Cramer sounds the alarm about a major pillar of US economy

Key Points
  • CNBC's Jim Cramer says he's feeling a new level of "anxiety about industrial" companies.
  • FedEx's earnings disappointment and outlook warning earlier this week were a "wake-up call," says the "Mad Money" host.
  • If the USMCA doesn't pass, "Boeing doesn't get back on track. Caterpillar numbers aren't that great." Cramer says. "These are not unimportant companies."
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Cramer: Industrials poor performance validates Bullard's concerns

CNBC's Jim Cramer raised concerns Friday about a major part of the U.S. economy.

The "Mad Money" host said he's feeling a new level of "anxiety about industrial" companies. "Small- and medium-sized businesses [are] doing well; big industrial just not doing well."

Smaller companies are faring OK because U.S. consumer activity, which accounts for two-thirds of the American economy, is holding up.

However, he emphasized industrials are not OK, calling FedEx earlier this week a "wake-up call."

Shares of FedEx plunged nearly 13% on Wednesday after the company late Tuesday blamed the U.S.-China trade war and the loss of Amazon as a customer for its quarterly earnings and revenue misses.

FedEx also lowered full-year guidance for fiscal 2020.

In addition, CEO Fred Smith on Tuesday's post-earnings conference call with analysts said, "There is a lot of whistling past the graveyard about the U.S. consumer and the United States economy versus what's going on globally."

"This is the most dispiriting call about the economy I've heard in a very long time," Cramer said Wednesday.

Cramer: Weak industrials validate Fed's Bullard

The poor performance from the industrial sector validates St. Louis Fed President James Bullard's concerns, Cramer said Friday.

In a Friday note, Bullard wrote that he wanted a deeper 0.5% rate cut than the 0.25% reduction his colleagues approved earlier this week because he fears the economy is slowing and manufacturing "already appears in recession."

There were two other regional Fed presidents who opposed Wednesday's rate cut. However, Boston's Eric Rosengren and Kansas City's Esther George were no votes in September and July because they wanted to hold rates steady.

In Friday statement explaining his actions, Rosengren wrote that monetary stimulus was not needed for the economy.

"Rosengren is ill-advised here," Cramer said.

Cramer: Automakers having 'an existential crisis'

Another part of Cramer's concern about industrial companies stems from the White House on Wednesday revoking an Obama-era federal waiver allowing California to set its own rules on vehicle emissions.

"I'm worried about federal preemption against California," Cramer said. "I think the president views California as an outlier country and is trying to rein it in."

The state plans to file a lawsuit.

"I think the car companies are having an existential crisis," Cramer said. "If you're Ford Motor now, this is not a good time. GM, not a good time."

Cramer: Industrials need USMCA to pass Congress

If the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement does not pass Congress, "Boeing doesn't get back on track. Caterpillar numbers aren't that great. These are not unimportant companies," said Cramer.

On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Cramer that Democrats hope to support the USMCA — the replacement deal for NAFTA, the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.

However, Pelosi said she still has concerns about how to enforce the deal.

"We hope that we're on a path to 'yes.' The most important issue outstanding is enforceability," the California Democrat said.

The White House has been pushing for swift ratification of the USMCA — struck last year among the U.S., Mexico and Canada.