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The Bounce That Didn't Happen

Checking in with my network of branch managers and margin clerks, I am getting exactly what I did not want to hear: "The bounce that everyone has taken for granted ain't happening," one branch manager tells me. "So now we have to go to every account with credit exposure and warn them. Some sellouts today will occur without warning."

The silver lining here may be that the margin clerks and branch managers are so afraid of losing the capital they loaned -- remember it is in the billions and billions -- that they aren't waiting until the usual hour to sell people out.

That's why this selling wave is occurring earlier than usual. Branch managers are afraid that they have clients who bought this dip on margin at their firm and at other firms and might be kiting collateral. Deals are being cancelled. Secondaries are being pulled. But not fast enough.

We have not purchased anything since the last downturn , preferring to wait until later in the afternoon to see if the margin selling abates.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund had no positions in any stocks mentioned. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at jjcletters@thestreet.com.

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