Cramer’s Game Plan: It’s All About the Fed

(Click for video linked to a searchable transcript of this Mad Money segment)

Next week, the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting starts Tuesday and concludes Wednesday, and Cramer thinks nothing matters more.

Not only will the market be hanging on the Fed's every word, Cramer thinks it will also be trying to anticipate how Ben Bernanke is interpreting new data points and whether he thinks the economy is improving.

"The Fed delivered a monster wake-up call when recent commentary implied that it could scale back it's massive bond buying program sooner rather than later. It spurred the $3 trillion global sell-off," Cramer reminded.

Although those immediate fears have been assuaged, the market must still grapple with the idea that the Fed is at least talking about the end of the bond buying program. The billion dollar questions become - when will it happen and what happens to rates when it does?

With that in mind, following are the earnings reports, economic data and other events Jim Cramer will be monitoring in the week ahead.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke
Getty Images
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke


On Monday the state of manufacturing will land front and center with the Empire State Fed survey. "I think it will show weakness," Cramer speculated. "In turn it should suggest that the actual economy can't support much higher interest rates."

"That's what was so unreal about this run up in rates," Cramer added. "It hasn't been justified by the data."


On Tuesday, Cramer's focus will turn to data from overseas. "A slew of reports are due from Japan: industrial production, machine tool orders, and the merchandise trade deficit," he said

"For years, I couldn't care less about this stuff, but these days, market players are drawn to Japan because the government has a stated policy of driving its own currency down in order to build exports. If the data's positive here then Japan's stock market will rocket. However if it isn't expect more declines."

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Cramer thinks nothing matters more next week than the statement released by the Fed at the end of its 2-day meeting. Expect the market to parse through each and every word, looking for even the slightest changes, and then making inferences from the new language. "If Ben Bernanke says the wrong thing we could see some heavy selling," Cramer said.

In addition, Cramer will turn his attention to two big earnings reports. "When we come in that morning, we'll hear from FedEx and this one's become a predictable drama. Typically FedEx fails to meet expectations, then it says something hopeful about the second half. This pattern has been going on for years now."

Cramer will also be keen to hear from Micron. "This is one of my favorite specs out there, in part because it is now a transformed company having bought a Japanese firm for peanuts last year that has gigantic market share in DRAM, the basic commodity processors that are in pretty much everything."

Cramer is expecting positive commentary. However, he also says that Micron stock has run into the quarter. "You have to hope for a broad market pullback to drive it down before you can pull the trigger."


Supermarkets will get Cramer's attention when Kroger reports on Thursday. "I bet we like what we see; that's been the case pretty consistently since the time when they decided to aggressively pursue their own private label brands, which are extremely lucrative. I prefer Whole Foods in the space because I like growth, but I bet Kroger's got a terrific quarter coming."

Retail will also come into focus with results from Pier 1 Imports. "After listening to the amazing Restoration Hardware conference call last night I think the consumer is once again spending heavily on furniture and fixtures. I think some hedge funds were short Restoration Hardware because they thought business might have slowed down due to higher rates. That didn't happen, not at all, so I don't think Pier 1, with a lower price point, will see it either."


On Friday Cramer will be looking over two earnings reports that he uses to gauge the health of the consumer; Darden and Carmax.

"Let me tell you what I want to hear. First, I'm hoping Darden refutes a growing belief that people have cut back on dining out. Then, I'm hoping that Carmax will say that auto sales are robust. If we get that kind of commentary, maybe we can finish next week on a high note," Cramer said.

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