Far from the Madding Crowd

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You can see the battle right on your screens:

Goldman

downgrades

Washington Mutual Savings

(WAMU)

this morning.

Why? Because prepayments are running too high. But how about if the

Fed

cuts? How about if that changes the yield curve? That's what the buyer is saying. (I am not the buyer, by the way.)

High stakes.

To put this in non-Wall Street speak: Do you go with the present, which is awful, or the future, which may be bright if the Fed cuts, but will continue to be awful if it doesn't?

The way we put these dilemmas in our office, where I just left a meeting with

Jeff

about this, is: Would you rather be in a

Schering-Plough

(SGP)

, which is two up and 10 down, or would you rather be in WAMU, which may be two down -- because of valuation -- and 10 up? (I sold my SGP at the opening, thinking that the good news is

in

the stock. The good news is certainly

not

in WAMU's stock.)

That's the dichotomy. I can't portray it any starker.

The hardest thing to do is to buy when everybody hates something, but that's when I make the most money. The easiest thing is to go with the crowd.

You know what I am doing.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-chairman of TheStreet.com.

At the time of publication, his fund was long Washington Mutual Savings, though positions 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 by sending a letter to TheStreet.com at

letters@thestreet.com.