The word started creeping into our dialogue around the office yesterday. I probably heard it a half-dozen times by the end of the day. It was always phrased conditionally as in, "If this is the bottom ..." -- or sometimes more fretfully: "What if this is the bottom?"
The action itself Tuesday was certainly broad-based enough. We had financials, retailers, dot-coms, tech and cyclicals all rallying with oil service going down, courtesy of the sudden and strong decline in oil. We had companies rallying on better-than-expected earnings, something that didn't happen last week. (In fact, there had been a curious lag effect, where a day later people seem to accept, grudgingly, that maybe earnings weren't that bad.) The utilities, if anyone still cares, were flashing buy. And the strength of the rally took everybody I know by surprise.
But action has been so misleading of late. There is this terrific column in the
Investors Business Daily
(adjacent to the chart page) that I read every day, which talks about the Big Picture -- that is, what's going on in the market -- using fabulous graphs as a teaching tool. Yesterday it discussed the false bottom we had at the beginning of April and how it suckered so many people in. The fatal lure of another false bottom may be too much for anybody left to stomach.
Editor's note: Be sure to check out Part 2 of this story, in which Cramer explains why he thinks this bottom may be the real thing after all!
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