This remains a treacherous market, Jim Cramer warned his Mad Money viewers Monday, before telling them they needed to stay nimble, have cash on the sidelines and take a long-term view of their portfolio. The market won't be able to find a bottom, he added, until a few key conditions have been met.
The first of those conditions involves the Federal Reserve, where Cramer said Fed Chair Jay Powell has painted himself into a corner. If the Fed doesn't raise interest rates this week, a raise that Powell insisted was necessary just a few weeks ago, the market could panic thinking sometime is direly wrong. If he follows through with the hike, the market gets a hike it doesn't need.
The Fed could single-handedly reverse the bear market if it makes three statements. First, that the economy has cooled since they insisted multiple rate hikes were needed. Second, there are cracks in the stock market that warrant a pause in hiking rates, and third, the collapse in oil prices is also a factor in their decision.
Beyond the Fed, Cramer said the market needs to change its tone. Not everything is the end of the world, he said, and stocks like Goldman Sachs (GS) need to stop trading below book value.
Next, the FANG stocks -- Facebook (FB) , Amazon (AMZN) , Apple (AAPL) , Netflix (NFLX) and Alphabet (GOOGL) -- which have been leading the markets lower, need to reverse course and help also lead them higher.
Finally, Cramer said any progress on a trade deal with China could also reverse the bear market in record time.
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Executive Decision: Johnson & Johnson
In a special "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Alex Gorsky, chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) to hear the company's response to a story last week that between 1971 and the early 2000s it witheld evidence that its iconic baby powders sometimes tested positive for carcinogenic asbestos. Shares of J&J plunged 10% on Friday after the story broke and another 2.9% today, wiping out over $50 billion in market cap.
Gorsky said it was important for him to address these allegations and clear the record. He insisted that over the past several decades there have been thousands of studies by independent authorities and regulators that have looked at this issue and have not found any evidence that there was asbestos in their talc or baby powders. There has also been no causation shown that these products cause cancer in any way, according to Gorsky. Additionally, he said over the past 15 years there have been no reported issues.
With all scientific research, there will of course be outliers and studies using different methodologies, he said, but throughout J&J's history the company always had an open and transparent dialog with the scientific community as these differences have been discussed.
Further, Gorsky cited the company's actions in the 1980s, when J&J pulled Tylenol from the shelves after several people were poisoned by tampering, as proof of the company's committment to protecting the public.
After the bell, Monday, J&J launched a $5 billion share buyback plan to take advantage of the slide in the stock's price.
Executive Decision: JNJ Part 2
Continuing his interview with Alex Gorsky, chairman and CEO at Johnson & Johnson, Cramer asked about the significance of the company's $5 billion stock buyback program that was announced earlier today. Gorsky said it should be viewed as a sign of confidence by the company that they've never been more excited for the future. J&J has exciting pipelines of products for pharma, medical device and consumer products ahead of it.
When asked about the myriad of lawsuits alleging cancer from the use of talc products, Gorsky said of the 40 or so suits that have been resolved, 35 have had favorable outcomes for his company. J&J is in the business of curing cancer, not causing it, he said. Gorsky said he has full faith in the FDA, which approved all of J&J's testing and methodologies over the years.
Even in a treacherous market, investors need to always remember that the stock market is the greatest wealth creator of all time, Cramer told viewers. Even in times like these, when conventions are being broken, it pays to keep your eyes on the long-term.
Cramer said the proprietary S&P Oscillator that he's followed for decades has always signaled a buy below -5. But today that reading hit -7.5 and there was still no bottom to be had. The so-called Santa Claus rally also seems to be broken, thanks to the Fed, so that convention is gone as well. The notion that the third year of a presidency is usually an up-year for stocks also looks at risk.
According to Cramer, our central bank is out of step with the rest of the world and that is only compounded by the on-going trade war, disputes over government shutdowns and a host of other Washington-related issues.
Yet despite it all, Cramer said he's still making regular contributions to his index funds, and you should too, as stocks continue to be the best game in town.
Executive Decision: Starbucks
In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer continued last week's interview with Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks (SBUX) , along with Mark Schneider, CEO of Nestle, to discuss their growing partnership.
Schneider said the cultures at Starbucks and Nestle, and their combined love of coffee, has already allowed them to do great things and they're accelerating their plans. Starbucks has a great international brand, while Nestle knows consumer packaged goods around the globe. Nestle currently operates in over 80 countries.
Sustainability is also at the heart of both Nestle and Starbucks. Johnson said doing well by doing good is woven into their culture and the two companies aren't afraid to sweat the details on the environment, packaging and other important issues.
Cramer and the AAP team are looking at how end-of-the-year market volatility is affecting their portfolio. 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.
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