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Jim Cramer: The Follow-the-Futures Playbook

No matter. I can review every one of these at length. The simple fact is that ever since the futures took over the stock market, the selloffs have been so all-encompassing that they beget sellers in their own right.

In Get Rich Carefully I detail the now-time-honored pattern of all of these situations. How all go down on Day 1 (and I mean all). On Day 2 all go down again as those who were brain dead on Day 1 take action and the media makes Day 2 Ukraine even more DEFCON-like. But near the end of Day 2, the Bristol-Myers (BMY - Get Report) price-to-earnings model sets in, the one where we ask ourselves "what does the Ukraine have to do with the price-to-earnings ratio of Bristol-Myers?"

What's funny is when I say it, and I will most likely do so, it will sound Pollyanna-ish and I will be ridiculed by the people who are always so much smarter than I am, people like Jim Grant and Marc Faber who, time and again, have managed to be true intellectuals about these situations. Their doom and righteous gloom jeremiads are so much more in synch and have so much more gravitas than I have, that you virtually have to do what they say or else.

Or else what?

Or else seem like a lightweight. The funny thing is that even after they have been wrong for literally thousands of unadmitted Dow Jones points, they still are smarter than I am! Oh well. Jealousy and comparisons are odious. But remember, when you see them you know the BMY theorem is about to take hold.

Day 3 sees the Bristol-Coca-Cola (KO - Get Report) cohort (don't worry, bad sales don't matter yet with the Buffett-backed Coke, even as Jim Stewart lays out the alternative case in The New York Times this weekend) actually go higher. Everything else keeps falling though as the Ukraine crisis worsens.

Day 4? Ukraine crisis stays worse, plus this time we are on the eve of the employment report. We rally ahead of it, most likely, though as the shorts lock in profits or are scared that the market's oversold and due for rally after a hefty decline.

Day 5? Labor and Ukraine again, but we see stabilization in the high-growth stocks, either because the economy is weak and managers want growth or because the economy's OK, but the employment number is now behind us.

Then the worry about the weekend and the Ukraine, and when nothing truly dastardly happens almost all stocks open up and we start putting it behind us. Boeing (BA - Get Report), 3M (MMM - Get Report) and United Tech (UTX - Get Report) lead the charge.

That's pretty much the life cycle. Those who buy on Day 1 tend to not do well at all, which emboldens the sellers on Day 2. but beginning at the end of Day 2 you need to break out the shopping list. Heaven forbid we get down 5%-6% on this and then you just have to dust off what worked well beginning three weeks ago.

Usual caveat: If it escalates to nuclear war, we all get killed, which truly does hurt the P/E of Bristol-Myers. Otherwise, it's downturn-business-as-usual, with the most salient point being that the first buying opportunity comes when Grant-Faber bowl us over with their genius. Don't fire until you see the whites of their brilliance.

Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, has no positions in the stocks mentioned.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published at 10:00 p.m. EST on Real Money on March 2.

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