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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- What happens what you take housing away from the U.S. economy and don't replace it with something else? You get a market that looks a lot like today's, Jim Cramer said on "Mad Money" Wednesday after another big down day on Wall Street.
Cramer said housing may seem like only a small part of the economy on the surface, but in reality it is huge. That's exactly why the Federal Reserve has been targeting it with super-low interest rates. Housing means a great deal to a lot more than the likes of Home Depot (HD) and everything that goes into its stores. Everything from banking to retail sales to construction and services are all affected.
When home prices are rising, homeowners feel wealthier, which in turn creates a virtuous circle of spending, appreciation and growth for the economy overall, Cramer explained. But all of that has been called into question over the past two weeks because the data are signaling housing has run too far, too fast.Too far, too fast means the Fed's job is done, said Cramer, and that notion is sending interest rates higher, which already manifested itself in the form of slowing initial demand for mortgages. That would be fine if Washington was able to offer the economy other stimuli such as road projects or new pipelines to take advantage of our bountiful supply of natural gas. But so far Washington has been unable to agree on anything that might create jobs, which means when housing slows, so does the entire economy. What's all this mean for investors? Cramer said investors can't afford to be greedy, they need to take profits where they can.
Executive Decision: Jonathan BushIn the "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Jonathan Bush, chairman, president and CEO of AthenaHealth (ATHN), the health care cost-containment company that fell from $95 a share to $86 after it reported what investors saw as less-than-stellar quarterly results. Bush wasted no time explaining that today there is no shopping around for the best deal when it comes to health care and consumers don't get to keep the savings if they opt to save the system money. But at Athena, the company is helping doctors do just that by making prices transparent so they can make referrals that not only meet their patients' needs, but also aren't gouging the system.
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