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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Consumer confidence is high and holiday shopping is strong, but the fiscal cliff still looms ever larger.
That's quite a conundrum for the stock market, Jim Cramer told "Mad Money" viewers Tuesday as he tried to explain why most of America seems so blissfully ignorant of the gigantic tax increases and recession that's just around the corner.Cramer said there are a few reasons he can think of as to why most consumers seem to be spending away this holiday season. The first is that what really matters to consumers is the price of their homes and those prices are up 3% based on the most recent data. When home prices are on the rise, consumers feel that maybe, just maybe, all is not lost after all. But perhaps the most logical reason for the confidence paradox is that most Americans are totally oblivious to the dangers of the fiscal cliff, said Cramer. He questioned the value of "consumer confidence" surveys overall, noting that they were also high right before the Great Depression. It may be that these surveys poll many of the 47% of Americans that don't pay a lot in federal taxes, or that those polled do not have a lot of capital gains or dividend income, which is most at risk from the fiscal cliff. While the cliff will have an impact on many people, said Cramer, it won't affect everyone and certainly not equally. Some may not care at all, while others, notably in the defense industry, will need to care a great deal. Cramer said he grows less confident by the day that a budget agreement will be reached, and others do as well, which explains why just a few negative comments from Washington today were enough to send the market into a tailspin. But for those not in the know, or those not invested in the stock market, they seem to just be whistling past the graveyard.