This week and next, the TheStreet and RealMoney will be exploring the aftermath of Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy filing and the ensuing market chaos it brought to a head almost a year ago. This story originally appeared Wednesday on RealMoney. Click here for a free trial, and enjoy incisive commentary all day, every day.



) -- Hardly a day goes by where I don't struggle with being defensive about the action in this market. On the eve of the anniversary of

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Lehman Brothers'

demise, however, perhaps it is worth discussing whether we have returned to a world of normalcy, without inflation, where people either can't spend or don't want to spend beyond their means and the government is stymied to where it might not be able to spend further beyond its means.

Of course, each cohort has already spent too much. Consumers bought homes, retail and autos they couldn't afford, and government at all levels -- federal, state and local -- spent too much, too, as Doug Kass has so eloquently pointed out.

But the truth here is that the shadow lending system that was willing to securitize anything, even the worst of loans, and was willing to bundle anything in the hopes of getting compliant ratings agencies to bless the junk -- and bless they did for big fees -- has crashed into oblivion. Sure, the

Federal Reserve

has tried to revive some asset-backed lending, and asset-backed lending had been a pretty good game for years before standards grew lax, but there is no doubt that standards are no longer lax.

In short, we could be headed toward a world where real growth is dear while phony, debt-charged growth is history. We could be in a world where private equity may have come through unscathed but is no longer an important part of the landscape because people don't want their debt, regardless of the ratings. In fact, the ratings agencies alone may have been so tarnished that now buyers have to think for themselves, another positive of the era. I do hope that


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Standard & Poor's

do not get First Amendment protection, but I think the Southern District's ruling against the use of First Amendment protection sounds pretty specious. Private-party dissemination and a lack of so-called broadcast seem like pretty slim reeds upon which to hang a decision. Nevertheless, the agencies' sham ratings have been exposed, and anyone who relies upon them now will be stigmatized as an unworthy fiduciary.

Same with Madoff. We now know that another part of the money management business, the fund of funds, has little credibility


it is just meant as a crutch. I know some good funds, but the rich people who relied upon funds of funds were just taken because if they had asked any questions at all they would have found out that there was no due diligence being done at many of the Madoff feeders.

In fact, another lesson from the post-Lehman era is that rich people have to stop being so gullible. In the end, the rich people who were taken during this period were either betrayed by the government in its fickle handling of first



Freddie Mac

and then Lehman and


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, or bamboozled by the ratings agencies or just plain stupid. Maybe they will wise up and recognize that you only get rich once and you don't need to take chances.

All of this is to say that the investing world post-Lehman is a better, albeit poorer, one where we are all smarter and all recognize that there are no real protections or safeguards offered by anyone: brokerage firms, ratings agencies and the various government and private entities that seek to regulate the markets.

In other words, a world of low inflation with

caveat emptor

being the way of risk is a good one, not a bad one, and makes the backdrop for this moment far more positive than the bears would like us to believe.

Hence, it's why we keep going higher and the move is, most likely, not over.


Written by Jim Cramer in New York


At the time of publication, Cramer had no positions in stocks mentioned. Jim Cramer is co-founder and chairman of He contributes daily market commentary for's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO. Outside contributing columnists for and, including Cramer, may, from time to time, write about stocks in which they have a position. In such cases, appropriate disclosure is made. To see his personal portfolio and find out what trades Cramer will make before he makes them, sign up for

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