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Cramer: Putting This Selloff in Perspective


This post from Jim Cramer's blog originally appeared Jan. 30 at 11:31 a.m. ET on RealMoney.

NEW YORK ( RealMoney) -- A year ago, we took off like a bat out of hell, and then we ran smack into what can only be called a bear market. We had the industrials crater, the banks give it up and the oils get crushed because of European woes, the latter being a total oddity, because oil never came in. The techs were awful, led by a faltering semiconductor group with a contagion that spread everywhere except for Apple (AAPL).

Once again, we have taken off with great gusto, the best rally since 1997, and it has been across the board, with the financials and techs leading the way and the industrials, such as Caterpillar (CAT) and Honeywell (HON), not that far behind.

In fact, only the natural-gas stocks, because of the crash of the fuel, have been left behind, and it's been a real rip-snorter for 2011's big disappointments. Think Alcoa (AA) and Bank of America (BAC).

So it is absolutely reasonable that we have to question whether this selloff is the beginning of something big, a reprise from 2011, especially because, once again, Europe is staring us in the face, as the bond vigilantes, those who seek to bust the treasuries of country after country, circle around Portugal and can get away from Greece.

Can 2012 be that different from 2011? Don't we have to give up the ghost just like last year?

I say, not so fast. The world is a four-legged stool: Europe, the U.S., China and emerging growth. At the beginning of last year, the U.S. was doing nothing at all, dead in the water. Europe was doing well enough for the central bank to have raised rates twice. Or at least the central bankers thought things were going well enough. China, meanwhile, had to slam on the brakes because of worries of an overheated property market. And the emerging markets, from Brazil to India, had to raise rates, too, to break inflation.

Now let's look at the world. Europe, of course, is terrible, mired in a recession that shows no sign of ending. Some would say the recession is accelerating along with the mandated austerity programs. They seem to know only how to cut growth to balance budgets and not encourage growth to raise tax receipts that can also help balance budgets. A lot of this is the Merkel effect, as the whole European system seems to be hijacked by this woman so given to brinkmanship that we know the only way anything gets done is to be right on the precipice, a la Portugal right now, or previously Italy and Spain -- not that those countries' woes are resolved.

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