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Cramer: AmEx CEO Offers 'Little Hope'

A “Street Signs” interview with American Express’ CEO was “really negative” and “jarring,” Cramer said Wednesday. Despite a significant move higher for the markets over the past few months, there was no talk of “green shoots” from Kenneth Chenault.

It was “a little if any hope interview,” Cramer said during Stop Trading!. “It was just bad.”

Chenault told Erin Burnett that while it was “encouraging” recently to see some stabilization, it’s “way too early” to assume we’re on track for an economic recovery. The economy might see “some improvement” in the second half of 2010, he said, but that would depend on job creation, consumer confidence and other key factors.

Cramer said the CEO’s comments come just as many investors fear another “very, very hard downturn again,” and they seemed to delegitimize the Dow’s 2,000-point surge since early March.

“I came away from the interview [thinking] this market’s still too high,” the Mad Money host said.

Cramer also pointed to American Express’ move into India for growth, rather than investing here in the US. It seemed to be anything but a ringing endorsement.

  • Video: American Express' Kenneth Chenault
  • Video: JPMorgan Chase's James B. Lee, Jr.

“That’s not the message that President Obama is trying to portray,” Cramer said. “It is the message that business is giving him, though.”

Erin Burnett also interviewed JPMorgan Chase Vice Chairman James B. Lee, Jr., a Wall Street dealmaker known as the “trillion-dollar man,” and he seemed only slightly more positive on the markets and the economy. Lee’s take? He’s bullish for the longer term. Cramer’s reaction to the vice chairman’s comments was the same as his reaction to American Express: This market looks too high.

Cramer did offer a couple of plays off lower gas prices. He likes Ruby Tuesday (“much better earnings”) and Charming Shoppes (“looks like there’s a turn”). He also mentioned Dress Barn’s bid for Tween Brands, saying these establishments should see more business as lower prices at the pump put more money in consumers’ pockets.

Cheaper gas is like lower taxes, Cramer said, and it’s “far bigger than anything that the government’s thinking about,” such as a refund check.

Cramer's charitable trust owns JPMorgan Chase.

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