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Cramer: The Dow's Big Round Number

This post from Jim Cramer's blog originally appeared Feb. 21 at 11:55 a.m. ET on RealMoney.

NEW YORK (RealMoney) -- Does Dow 13,000 matter? You bet it can. I hear tons of people talk about how what matters is the S&P 500 and taking out the April high of last year. Sure, I would love that. It would break the double top pattern, and investment professionals know that the S&P is what matters, not the Dow, because it is a much broader gauge of the stock market. When I ran money, I led every performance letter with how I did against the S&P. When I compare how my charitable trust is doing, I always match it against the S&P.

But the simple truth is that the retail investor, the home gamer, cares tremendously about how the Dow is doing, and when the Dow takes out key milestones, it is a much bigger deal than how the S&P 500 does.

Why does it matter so much to the actual performance of the market? Because the main attribute of this stock market rally is that it is happening with very few investors aboard. This morning, Ann Curry from the "Today" show asked me a terrific question, about whether the Dow taking out highs means anything for anyone other than rich people.

You know what? That's a difficult question. Rich people are heavily invested in the stock market as well as the bond market, especially municipal bonds. They do stand to do much better than the regular investor who can't really afford to have a big stock portfolio.

However, 90 million households are touched by the stock market in some fashion, through pension plans, 401(k)s, IRAs and college savings plans. The stock market has been a disaster for these smaller savers. For many, stocks are a con job, something that takes your money away and gives it to the rich. So Curry's inquiry is a smart one.

But here's my answer, though. Yes, we have had a dozen-year lost decade for stocks. They have been miserable for that long. However, in the 1980s and 1990s, stocks made regular people fortunes. We had well superior returns to bonds. Who is to say it can't happen again?

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