It's hard to outrun the bond bears, Jim Cramer admitted to his Mad Money viewers Thursday. According to the bears, the economy is falling off a cliff thanks to China and the Federal Reserve and our inverted yield curve proves it. But Cramer posited that perhaps there's a less alarmist explanation for bond yields.
Cramer recalled how back in August 1991, he wanted to buy Dutch bonds because they offered a higher interest rate than U.S. bonds. Back then, in order to buy Dutch bonds, you first needed to buy Dutch currency, and currency trades, well, they took time. By the time Cramer actually owned $20 million worth of Dutch guilders, but before he owned any Dutch bonds, the gilder collapsed and he lost $400,000 in the blink of an eye.
But today, buying foreign bonds is a trivial affair, Cramer said, and in a world where the euro is falling and many European bonds are paying negative interest rates, investors are flocking to the U.S. Which would you rather have, a weak currency and negative interest rates or the U.S. dollar and U.S. Treasuries with even a 2% yield?
The stock market has become far too binary as of late. Either everything is rallying or everything is plummeting. Fortunately, today there were some pockets of strength, even if they're in the recession stocks and secular growth names. Investors aren't sure who to believe, Cramer said, especially when Walmart (WMT) - Get Report and Macy's (M) - Get Report tell two very different stories.
Keeping an Eye on Alcon
Inverted bond yields have historically been a bad omen for the stock market, Cramer admitted, but as he mentioned at the top of the show, there are reasons why global investors are flocking to U.S. bonds for safety. On the off chance he's wrong, however, Cramer told viewers they should consider buying shares of Alcon (ALC) - Get Report , the eye care company that makes everything from contact lens solution to surgical equipment.
Alcon was recently spun off from Novartis (NVS) - Get Report , which has been shedding its over-the-counter businesses to concentrate on their pipeline of new drugs. But that doesn't mean that Alcon has a bad business, quite the contrary.
Cramer said Alcon has a number of things going in its favor, including aging baby boomers, a rising global middle class and a host of new innovations that consumers love. Shares trade for 28 times earnings, which is a premium compared to a company like Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Get Report at 14 times earnings, but only Alcon is a pure-play on this exciting and growing market.
Cramer and the AAP team are looking at better-than-expected July retail sales. Find out what they're telling their investment club members and get in on the conversation with a free trial subscription to Action Alerts Plus.
Executive Decision: Waste Management
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Jim Fish, president and CEO of Waste Management (WM) - Get Report , a stock that's up 30% in 2019, to find out what's really going on with our economy.
Fish said despite what the bond market may be signaling, business at Waste Management is humming along. He said they service just about every segment of the economy and they're continuing to see positive revenue growth.
Fish added that construction remains strong, as does small business and even their special waste collection operations are not seeing any signs of slowing. Additionally, Waste Management is very active in disaster recovery, and Fish said there seems to be more fires, floods and hurricanes these days as compared to years past.
When asked about the labor market, Fish said Waster Management is still able to hire everyone they want to hire, but they're also investing over $100 million in technology to develop things like remotely operated landfill equipment that can reduce labor costs.
Cramer remained bullish on Waste Management.
Executive Decision: AMN Healthcare
In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Susan Salka, president and CEO of AMN Healthcare (AMN) - Get Report , the healthcare staffing company that just posted an eight-cents-a-share earnings beat.
Salka said demand remains strong for healthcare providers of all kinds, from doctors and nurses to clinicians and administrators. She said more and more, healthcare companies are looking for total workforce solutions, like the one AMN provides.
AMN helps healthcare companies with many pain points, including managing credentials, making sure everyone on staff meets all of the requirements to perform their duties. The company is also expanding into digital applications that help both companies and staff communicate more effectively.
When asked about her total addressable market, Salka said that market only continues to grow, both because the healthcare is growing and because AMN continues expanding into new areas.
Economy Runs on Confidence
In his "No-Huddle Offense" segment, Cramer admitted that yes, you really can talk yourself into a recession. An economy runs on confidence, he said, and without confidence, businesses won't take risks.
While Cramer said he still feels that a recession is unlikely, as confidence continues to erode, a slowdown in the economy is becoming more likely. Even he was surprised at how fast the bond market turned negative, as investors continue their negative chatter about the Federal Reserve, China and the Democratic candidates' negative views on big business.
When the facts change, Cramer said he must change his mind, and that's why he's a little less positive this week than he was last week.
On Real Money, Cramer says you can't talk your way out of a recession. But the Fed can. Get more of his insights with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on Penn National Gaming (PENN) - Get Report , Viacom (VIAB) - Get Report , Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) - Get Report , Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM) - Get Report , Marvell Technology (MRVL) - Get Report and Yeti Holdings (YETI) - Get Report .
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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in JNJ, VIAB, MRVL.