The big non-
story today isn't tech for once. It is retail sales, or more important, the lack of them. See that decline in
? Notice the clobbering that most of the mainline retailers are absorbing?
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That's because all of the big-gun analysts were out there saying negative things this morning about sales for the last few weeks. Five weeks is a trend and the trend is bad.
What do you do with this? Maybe you sell some of the retailers that have held in well or recovered. Maybe you short a couple. That's what our inclination is.
More important, this is the kind of information that usually makes me go buy bonds. This data is bullish for bonds because it says that consumer spending is slowing. Now, notice I said "usually." I take the debate I have been having with
seriously. He is right that I have been too bullish on bonds. It is because of my interpretation of data like this that I have been too bullish. This economy has many, many facets, and the one that is hurting the bond case is wages, not department store sales.
So, my takeaway, again from our discussion on the
boards, is to be satisfied with my bond position, but not buy more on this. And instead, try to focus on which stocks are too high on expectations of sales vs. the reality of estimates that are too high.
Ralph Bloch, the spot-on technician/strategist/wizard from
, is getting more optimistic about the market. Ralph is the guy who was dead right about the decline to 10,000. This could be big and is worth watching. He has the hot hand in this market.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long the 30-year bond. 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