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While the bears may be looking for any excuse to take the markets lower, Jim Cramer told the viewers of his "Mad Money" TV show Wednesday that comparisons to Japan's economic worries over the last decade should not be one of them.
Cramer said any comparison of the U.S. stock market to that of Japan's Nikkei average, which fell 82% from 1989 to 2008, is just ludicrous. The fact is, he said, we are very different from Japan and are not repeating the same mistakes they made in the 1990's.
According to Cramer, today's top line GDP number was not as important as its underlying trends. Consumer spending increased by 2.2% in the quarter, indicating that the U.S. is still spending. That was not the case in Japan, where spending virtually stopped.
Japan also saved their banks, even the toxic ones, noted Cramer, while here in the U.S., Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is forcing banks to eat their losses.
In addition, there are major differences between the two countries, he said.
One notable difference is population. Between 1980 and 2008, the Japanese population grew only 8% and is expected to begin declining soon, he said. During that period, the U.S., population grew by 34%, spurring spending and economic growth.
Japan is also an older nation, with an average age of 44, versus 36 in the U.S., he said
"Stop comparing," Cramer told viewers, adding the decade of economic stagnation is not happening here.
Cramer once again welcomed Sean Boyd, CEO of
, to the show to discuss the outlook for gold as a hedge against inflation.
Boyd said Agnico-Eagle is now getting good cost production after an earnings hiccup at the end of 2008. The company plans to have six mines operating within a year, all of which will be operating at an attractive cash cost. Boyd said Agnico-Eagle has healthy margins on ever expanding production.
When asked about gold reserves, Boyd said his company, which has 15 years worth of gold reserves, owns 100% of its properties. He said that arrangement allows it to expand its mines into adjoining areas, a move that is significantly cheaper than starting a new mine from scratch.
As for the company's capital structure, Boyd said Agnico-Eagle is proud of its 27-year dividend, adding it supports a strong dividend in the future.
Cramer said owning gold is a responsible way to invest. He recommended Agnico-Eagle, as well as the
SPDR Gold Trust
Beyond the Stock Metric
Cramer also welcomed Ron Shaich, CEO of
, to discuss that company's stellar quarter results and Wall Street's subsequent punishment of the stock.
Shaich said the measure for a company is not its stock price on any given day, but the performance over long periods of time. He said Panera delivered on the earnings it promised, and is holding to its full-year guidance. "The fundamentals are good," said Shaich, noting the company's 39% earnings growth this quarter.
Shaich said Panera is sticking to its strategy of 15 years of delivering real food served by engaging people in environments that excite people. "The stock will take care of itself," he said. The real question for Shaich, "can we keep up with the demand."
Cramer remained bullish on Panera, calling it a real opportunity for investors, despite Wall Street's pummeling of the stock today.
Am I Diversified?
Cramer spoke with callers to see if their portfolios have what it takes. The first caller's portfolio included
Johnson & Johnson
Cramer said he liked all of these stocks and added "this man knows how to play the game."
The second caller's top holdings included
Johnson & Johnson
Cramer called this portfolio "unbelievable."
The third caller had
as their top five stocks.
Cramer said "hallelujah" to this portfolio's mix of stocks.
In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on
Cramer was bearish on
Canadian Natural Resources
Check out the latest edition of
"Cramer's Take onTop-Searched Stocks" on Stockpickr.
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At the time of publication, Cramer was long ConocoPhillips, BP, Wal-Mart, General Electric, Freeport McMoRan.
Jim Cramer, host of the CNBC television program "Mad Money," is a Markets Commentator for TheStreet.com, Inc., and CNBC, and a director and co-founder of TheStreet.com. All opinions expressed by Mr. Cramer on "Mad Money" are his own and do not reflect the opinions of TheStreet.com or its affiliates, or CNBC, NBC UNIVERSAL or their parent company or affiliates. Mr. Cramer's opinions are based upon information he considers to be reliable, but neither TheStreet.com, nor CNBC, nor either of their affiliates and/or subsidiaries warrant its completeness or accuracy, and it should not be relied upon as such. Mr. Cramer's statements are based on his opinions at the time statements are made, and are subject to change without notice. No part of Mr. Cramer's compensation from CNBC or TheStreet.com is related to the specific opinions expressed by him on "Mad Money."
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