This column was originally published on RealMoney on Sept. 1 at 10:34 a.m. EDT. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.
This week, this week before Labor Day, has become a sacred time for me to not work. It has been for years. Has been since August 1988.
I had become so bearish that month, so convinced that nothing could possibly go right, that I was determined to make the short bet of my life. Each day I would come in and lay 'em out. Each day I would convince myself that all of that liquidity the Fed had injected to get the crash of '87 behind us had produced a wave of inflation that could not be stamped out.
Each day I grew convinced that we were facing hard landings, catastrophes, and a return to the bad old Jimmy Carter days.
Of course, looking back you would think, 'What was Cramer smoking?' I got negative for no reason whatsoever. It turned out to be a relatively benign time. Things didn't get bad until the Iraq war and that just turned out to be one gigantic buying opportunity anyway.
We get in the grip of the bear pretty easily on Wall Street. You know why? It is without a doubt so much easier to be a bear, intellectually, than a bull. Think about it right now: Obviously this Iraq thing is way out of control; the President is weak; earnings could be soft because the consumer, as always, is strapped; people are thinking their homes are worthless, blah blah blah.
Sometimes, unlike when I got bearish in 1988, I think we
the cold war. Aren't the Russians supplying the arms, aren't the Russians, awash with oil, our nemesis all over the world again? Aren't the bad-guy terrorists in charge and we're fighting rearguard politically correct actions?
Yeah, it's grim.
But my point is that, frankly, if you listen to the media,
it has always been grim
been a good time. Ii is
hopeless. It is
one step from catastrophe: bird flu, Chernobyl, 9/11, Baghdad, $100 oil, bankrupt consumers, Weimar inflation, whatever...
I have a theory why people in the media always say that it is so bad: What's the cost to it? Don't cost you nothing to be negative. Makes you look good to the pessimistic bosses who don't know how to make a dime anyway. You can't be considered reckless if you are negative, and isn't that the real worry among respectable journalists?
I like to think of it another way, the accountability way. My negativity in 1988 kept me from making millions of dollars.
Millions of dollars
for heaven's sake. It was irresponsible and wrong of me to be that negate in light to the facts. It wasn't prudent. It wasn't respectable. It was
I write it now not to show you what an idiot I was, but because I want to demonstrate to you that sometimes being negative is just as, if not more, irresponsible than being positive. The two are symmetrical.
But you can only do so by admitting that you got it wrong and it cost you. It has
cost anyone in the media a dime to be negative.
In my job -- my litmus, actually -- arguably the only thing that I really do right is to try to follow the compass to a course that makes you money. I say "try" because sometimes I legitimately read the compass wrong. But at least I know my goal: not to obfuscate, not to be cautious, not to be so skeptical as to keep you out of the game. Just to get it right.
Today we got a number that shows that things are, even after all of the nonsense going on, well on their way to
soft landing. Not for everything. Not for Florida housing. Not for $40 million Los Angeles homes. Not for out-of-work immigrants.
But for most of the country.
That's good, not bad. I know it. Because I have seen too many negatives when things were good.
This is one of those times. Like 1988.
Jim Cramer is a director and co-founder of TheStreet.com. He contributes daily market commentary for TheStreet.com's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO. Outside contributing columnists for TheStreet.com and RealMoney.com, 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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