What kind of negative signal are these cyclicals sending? When I think cyclical, I key off of

3M

(MMM) - Get Report

, which is a class act that has businesses all over the globe. This stock peaked at the beginning of the year, as cyclicals often do. There is a real rhythm of cyclicals. Analysts come out with estimates at the beginning of the year that are robust, and then they spend the rest of the year cutting those estimates!

Right now, it looks like the market is saying that the

Fed's

rate hikes are going to come down hard on outfits like 3M. The hikes will strengthen the dollar, raise inventory costs for the kind of raw materials 3M stockpiles and clip sales with a slower economy.

Join the discussion on

TSC

Message Boards.

When you think of it, 3M is paying the price of the Fed's blunt instrument. The Fed is fighting inflation that has, at its root, the dot-com salary and consumer-spending boom. The result is a crushing blow to the real economy. And the real economy is 3M.

If the Fed wishes to cool off the economy, it should influence stock-market buying, not real buying. But the Fed doesn't like to meddle. Remember that interchange with Sen.

Chuck Schumer

and the chairman? The Fed would rather keep margin rates steady and raise real rates!

I hate being a bearer of criticism about the Fed, since it has done such a great job. But if I worked at 3M, my blood would be boiling. This company has done everything it can to make things work better, but in the end, it gets hit harder by higher short-term rates than just about anybody. What a crime!

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund had no positions in any stocks mentioned. 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

jjcletters@thestreet.com.