How incredibly inconsistent is this market? Consider a phone call I had with my partner, Jeff Berkowitz, yesterday morning before I prepared to spend a day playing "Keep Away" and "Monkey in the Middle" with my girls at Long Boat Key, Fla.
I had checked in because, these days, anybody who has ever owned a stock loves to ask me about it, whether I am at the Manatee preserve or poolside at the hotel. All I heard Monday was fretting from holders of
stocks, as, one by one, people unburdened to me about their four-letter sob stories. So, even though I vowed not to read the paper and I had not brought my PC, I took a peek and saw the previous day's carnage.
Candidly, I hate it when I don't know what's going on.
Jeff discussed how all of the Matt.com names -- that's our shorthand for the heavy volatility
names, courtesy of
, who introduced most of them to us -- took their toll on Tuesday's run. (Run is synonymous with report card in our business; it is the word that means all of your positions, as summed up by the margin run that you received in the morning.)
Offhandedly, he mentioned that maybe some of these names would get a boost from the Heard on the Street article about the
high-tech baskets being put together. Otherwise, he was worried. I was worried.
We hate to lose money on anything. But when you own these stocks, you lose a lot of money when things go bad. (Remember, in the professional business, you speak of losing money whether you take the trade off the table or not, because you are marked to market in our business.) We talked about whether we had too much
B2B and too much
and too much
and too much
. The latter three stocks seemed to be the shorthand for our predicament.
My wife, who was working out at the time of the reality check, could detect the glumness the moment she walked in the room. To her "What's the matter?" I said, simply, "The guys had a tough day. Could be another one ahead."
She reminded me I was on vacation and it was my job to come back fresh. Meaning: no more checking in. I spent much of the day having fun, but in the back of my mind, it was nagging me that we were wrongly positioned going into the day after a tough day. I could just imagine the trashing I was getting on all of the boards, from our own to
, about my last piece posted:
Cramer's Not Writing the Obituary. As if some press hounds weren't yapping enough about
So I was good to my word. I didn't call back. In fact, the closest I came to talking about the market was chatting with some of the good folks who work at the Mar Vista, the best seafood I have had in years, many of whom love
But when I got in the car on the way to the airport for my flight back, I couldn't resist seeing if anybody was around at 6:30 p.m. at our office. Both
Melissa "Genome" Kasper
and Matt.com were in. I braced myself. "How did it go, Matt?" "Sick," he said, which is 20s-speak for "fantastic," just in case you are as out of it as I was before meeting Matt. "We killed 'em today."
"Really?" I asked.
"Yeah, Cisco was up 14 and America Online up 7, and Blodget put eBay on the buy list at Merrill. It was the sickest day."
Hmmm, good to be sick, I thought to myself.
I said that was terrific -- I still use words that mean what they meant when I was growing up. I told him I looked forward to seeing him early in the a.m. --
forbidding -- and I rang off. (No luck -- plane was 2 1/2 hours late, so I didn't get in till late in the a.m.)
I then sat back to ponder the sheer irony of the past 12 hours, uninvestable irony, but certainly more ironic than my
novel, which I expected to see me through the next four hours. Cisco, AOL and eBay, the three goats of the game Tuesday, starred in Wednesday's action.
We had a great day. My mind shot to that premature passing of the Nasdaq column, the anti-obituary, and I had a quick laugh to myself about how silly the naysayers and anti-Cramer chatterers must have seemed at the end of yesterday's session. Sweet.
And I pondered what a sick time I had in Florida while the team held up its end in New York.
But now it's good to be back.
You hang around long enough in this market and even the scammers can make you money. As one of the people who was faked out by the phony
bid story that ran on a faux-
page last year, I see if I had held on instead of taking the loss, I could have made a pretty penny. ... I can't tell you how many people complain to me about the very brokers that always get hyped by
, my former employer, or
, that one-man judge and jury who, to me, doesn't know as much as our readers. So, this is your chance, readers. Fill out the
broker survey and tell everybody what you tell me. This survey is so important because it is the only one where individuals decide, not the deacons of our business, all of whom are compromised in one form or another. Go tell the truth.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long Cisco, America Online, eBay, Yahoo! and TheStreet.com, and Cramer was long TheStreet.com. Cramer's fund may be long or short certain stocks in his biotech or B2B rotisserie leagues or TheStreet.com New Tech 30 index. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at