Don't get me wrong; I love differences of opinion. (When we started TheStreet.com, we always planned on having more than one view. My co-founder, Marty Peretz, owns The New Republic, which has always published contrary opinions and discordant voices. Those differences of opinion make a journal more relevant, less doctrinal and more exciting. We have to keep you interested if we're going to succeed.)
But understand that we did not establish
to defend myself or my trading actions
. (When we started this venture, I wrote three days a week. I never thought it would reach the point where I'd write constantly. And I never thought this column would evolve into a trading diary in which I simply tell you what I'm up to. Because I do it as it happens, I'm open to a huge amount of second-guessing. I can write that I think x will happen and in 10 minutes y happens and I'm naked before you. C'est la vie. It's kind of how real life is.)
We did not co-found
The Better Way
to the daytraders.
(Whenever I hear from competitors that we are simply a journal for daytraders, I get livid. We are a journal for individuals trying to get control of their finances. Lately, a bunch of you wrote me, saying, "We are not daytraders, we are swing traders," and you try to craft some sort of new nomenclature that is not in disrepute. I don't really care what you are. I have a bias against traders who feel the need to sell their positions out at the end of the day because most of you are not good enough to make money that way. That's not a harsh judgment. Most people are not good enough to play in the NBA or the NFL or even for college teams. Making money from a standing start day in and day out in good and in bad tapes -- like the one we have now -- is next to impossible. It's only because we had such a beneficent tape for so long that people thought they could go to some daytrading house, match up with someone else's capital and make money. For a while it was possible, because of the speed of the machines, to beat up on market makers and make a few bucks just by being fast, but I think that game is going away. For a while it was possible to coin money by getting a few shares of new issues, but that game has gone away. Then it was possible to short new issues after they had their ridiculous pop, but that's gone away. It was even possible to buy stocks like WAVO (WAVO) knowing they were going to be on Squawk Box and then sell them to dumber, slower people, but that game went away, too. Soon all that will be left will be people trying to match wits with a tough, unforgiving tape that won't let you make money more than a couple of times a week. This market, like its companion market of 1994, is brutal. And it won't allow for much profit, whether it's day or swing -- a lot of people are kidding themselves. This is the time to hunker down, take few risks and make sure you get it right. Or to go long-term and forget about it. Or to give it to the pros. It happens to be that kind of tape. I didn't create it, but I know about it and I write about it every day. I see people quitting their day jobs to go into this game and I want to tell them, "Go back. Don't." This game is now hand-to-hand combat every day and it won't allow for mistakes. It presents very few profit opportunities even for the nimble. It's a mess. And it's like this because the Fed wants it that way, so it's not going away. Soon the short rates will be so high that you'll make great money IN CASH, and then it will be a real nightmare if you daytrade. I also admit that I have a bias against daytraders, colored by my email, because 10 times a day daytraders email me that I'm a dope or that I don't know what I'm talking about or that I'm getting it wrong. I never get such insane, vituperative email from people trying to figure out how to control their finances, how to have autonomy over their money. I get it only from the men who shot Liberty Valence.)
We did not co-found
in order to serve up doctrine about the only method you need to help you make money.
(My wife, who taught me the institutional game, was a secretary/research assistant thrown on to a trading desk at a great hedge fund at the age of 23, and told if she made money she could stay and if she lost money she would be fired. She was not allowed to take home positions. She had to cash out. She made a huge amount of money. She proved to me it can be done. So I'm a believer. But what she did to make the money -- the amount of work, and insight and flow and charting and research and schmoozing -- determined her profit and loss and it was darn hard. But I was a pure fundamentalist and I learned a huge amount about how to make money every day from her.)
We set it up to help level the playing field, to give the individual investor the same edge as the big pros have. We did it to give you unbiased news and analysis that can help you figure out how to handle your money.
(This, not the other stuff, is our core mission. I would be lying to you if I thought we could make a business of TheStreet.com catering to daytraders. That's not a business. That's a newsletter. You want a newsletter? There are a ton of them. You want a tip sheet? I get them every day -- they're called recommended lists. You want to be told what to buy? I am, every day, by brokers who have a vested interest in my actions. You want to learn and read and help figure out how to make money? You want to get the inside dope rather than the hopeless, slow and outside dope the papers and TV provide? Right here, right now? That's what we do. Lord knows I've read enough articles putting us down, but I have never read the following article: "TheStreet.com is trying to make a difference, trying to do something never been done before: empower the individual and explain what really goes on, so the individual can be in charge of his or her own finances. Tell me that isn't a mission for 40 million of you. Tell me that such an idea doesn't have cogency, credence and power. And we will go away. But I think they will go away. Not us. I believe that with all my heart and soul. I would have to believe that to be able to take the heat I've been taking.)
I begin with this rambling preamble because yesterday the site had allegedly contradictory articles about how to trade.
an article that said dip buying was not the way to go. I wrote that
buying weakness is what I do.
(I can't do what Hoenig does. He can. Good for him.)
Somehow this discordant production led to a crisis among some of our members who want clarity and want easy answers to hard questions. They want to know how we can reconcile our views.
(So many people asked me how I could do what Hoenig says isn't right. At the risk of offending still more of you (besides the daytraders I no doubt offended above), can we just stipulate that I have made hundreds of millions of dollars in all kinds of markets for the last 18 years? Do I have to show these doubters my tax returns? Did I get into this to have to explain every day that I am a successful trader? What a horrible position I'm in. If I tell people that I'm a successful trader, then I'm a braggart, a cad, a disgusting person. If I tell people I make mistakes, too, and am worried and nervous and jittery at times, then I'm weak, a fraud, a phony and someone who is all too human to be a cold-as-ice trader. If I didn't have a sense of humor about this dilemma, it would be downright unbearable. Every day new people come to our site and every day they click on my byline, send me an email and tell me how much better they are than me or how I am wrong about this view or how I better watch out or I'll get my head handed to me. To which I say: I have been here trading long before you and will be here trading long after you. Good luck.)
The reason why
works is that we are not telling you what to do. We leave that to others, most of whom don't know what to do but get paid as if they do.
works because you have to figure out what to do, you have to figure out what is best for you and we can help you do that.
(Money is an individual thing. Some have more risk tolerance than others. Some have less money to invest than others. Some have different horizons than others. Some need the money and can't stay too long. Others don't need the money at all. All of these types have different goals. Running your own money is a deeply personal thing. People have their own likes and dislikes. The idea that there is one model, or one list or one way of doing it is completely bogus.)
There are thousands of ways to make money out there. Thousands. I try to show you the method that works for me. Jonathan shows you the method that works for him.
Gary B. Smith
shows you his method.
shows you his. As far as I'm concerned, the more the merrier.
(Find a way you like and stick with it and you'll do just fine. I like my method because it's a variant of buy low, sell high. I think that will always make sense. Always.)
No one way is right. I happen to think my way is better for me, or I would do it another way. Those of you who wrote me angrily last night about why I do what I do, and how stupid it is to like the market as it goes down, as always I URGE YOU TO BET AGAINST ME if you think it can make you money.
(I have never shied away from combat. I am a total-fight, no-flight kind of guy. Every time I get one of these gunslingers telling me I don't know what I'm doing, I urge them to put their money where their mouth is and bet against me. I have conviction about what I do. The other night someone asked me at a gathering whether I still liked AOL (AOL) despite the price action. I said I liked AOL because it's a great company and the price action meant nothing to me right now because of the arbitrage with Time Warner (TWX) . This person immediately told me that I was wrong because the stock said I was wrong. It's my job to find the situations where I think the stocks are wrong and the companies are right. I try to find the situations where there is a disconnect and there is too much pessimism priced in. Or too much optimism, in which case I go short. That's my job. That's what I do for a living.)
I have found a style that works for me. How do I know it works for me? OK, let's break all of the rules here and talk shamelessly and openly about the game. I know it's right for me because it has made me a ton of money. Is it right for you? I don't know. I don't know you. YOU have to figure that out, not me.
All I can do is show you what I do, how I think, and give you the same window I have to Wall Street. If you can't buy dips because you get shaken out as they go lower, or because you think the ways of Gary and Jonathan are right, I say, TERRIFIC!
(Use them all. Find out what works for you. I'm not going to tell you my way is better for you. I will tell you that my way works for me.)
This investing business is about finding what you are comfortable with and what you can live with. There is no one way. If you think there is, go rethink it because you're wrong.
(This is why TheStreet.com will win. Because we understand this. The other guys don't. They don't even want to. They just want to give you the charts, the graphs and the tools. We want to give you the intellectual and informational grounding and the tools. Maybe that's why they, even after all the mistakes we have made, are so scared and frightened that we will succeed.)
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long America Online. 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