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Cramer told viewers of his "Mad Money" TV show Monday that it might be time to take some money out of stocks and put it into plain old saving accounts.
He said while it's not time to sell everything, he advised viewers that if they need cash in the next five years, a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) insured savings account is the only way to guarantee your money will be safe.
Cramer went on to say that investors would be foolish to keep all of their money in stocks in such a volatile market. With some many questions still looming about the recently passed bailout package, Cramer outlined his plan for what he government should do next.
Cramer said the first thing that needs to happen is the FDIC needs to stop seizing banks and announce once and for all that they're done with seizures. With the bailout package now in place and the FDIC insurance limits raised to $250,000 per account, he said the market has the tools it needs to work out the rest of its problems without government intervention.
Cramer: Don't Just Sit There
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Furthermore, he said, a bold statement from the FDIC that the seizures are over will go far to stabilize the market.
Second, he said, the government needs to start putting the newly allocated $700 billion under the Troubled Asset Relief Program to work. He suggested first buying individual home loans, a move which will allow the government to immediately end the foreclosures and begin the renegotiation process to lower the terms of the troubled mortgage loans while taking the toxic assets off the balance sheets of the banks.
Lastly, Cramer said the government should buy the collateralized debt obligations (CDO's), but only after it has exhausted the individual loan options. For these CDO's, Cramer suggested they be grouped by geography and vintage, so the government can hold them until their values increase, then sell them in an orderly manner.
Cramer said if the government follows this plan, only then can it avoid a repeat of the Great Depression. Until then, however, Cramer said it doesn't hurt to have a little cash socked away in savings.
Cash Is King
Cramer returned to the old adage "it's better to be safe than sorry" when reiterating to viewers that they should sell at least 20% of their portfolios and move that money into safe, FDIC insured savings accounts.
Cramer again reminded viewers that they can't buy even defensive stocks without first taking profits and selling stocks to build a strong cash position. He again advised investors to have enough cash on hand for things like buying a home, paying for college, buying a car or helping parents retire.
Cramer said investors should have cash on hand and not rely on the markets to be there for them.
Until the chance of another Great Depression is off the table, Cramer said the only prudent thing to do is horde some cash. He said he doesn't take the term "depression" lightly, but he feels the market could retest the lows of October 2003, when the Dow traded at just 7,700.
Are we better off today than in 2003? Cramer said, "No." With the huge financial crisis, the risk of a worldwide slowdown, and continued energy problems still looming, the possibility of further declines in the markets are very real.
The only stocks Cramer said he will even go near are the food, drug, and packaged goods makers, along with high dividend paying stocks where the dividends are protected by strong earnings, and companies with large cash positions relative to their current valuations. Other than these stocks, he said, cash is the place to be.
A Flight to Safety
Cramer spoke with Zan Guerry, chairman and CEO of personal products maker
( CHTT), to see if the company fits the bill as a safe, recession-proof place to invest.
Guerry said that most of Chattem's products, including Gold Bond, Icy Hot and Act mouthwash, are things people have to use regardless of the economy. He said the company is in a strong position, with a solid balance sheet and $5 a share of free cash flow.
When asked where the best place was to invest that free cash, Guerry said that Chattem is being conservative and is investing in advertising and building its brands. However, Guerry also noted that if an acquisition opportunity arises, the company will certainly seize that opportunity.
Cramer said Chattem has both strong brands and declining raw costs going in its favor. Chattem, he noted, also recently pushed through a 5.4% price increase to further bolster its bottom line.
With 65% of the company's sales coming from its six top brands and all six of those brands being No. 1 in their categories, Cramer called Chattem one of the ultimate safety stocks.
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At the time of publication, Cramer was not long on any stock.
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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