Hey Banks! Your Merger or Your Life!

Investors aren't cutting the financial sector any slack today. And neither is JJC.
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What's the market saying about these banks? I think I hear what it is shouting: Merge or die. I certainly expect the banks to have a rocky year if the

Fed

raises rates by 100 basis points. That would be poison. But the market is speaking louder than that.

It is saying that we have too many banks and it is not going to look kindly on the group until the mergers drive out all of the underearning characters out there. I thought the market would give these banks a grace period, given all of the Y2K problems that had to be resolved. But it looks like people were looking for mergers to start this weekend!

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I would love to be more positive about this sector. It is down, it represents value, it has historically been important to the overall health of "the tape," that amorphous word which means how the market acts.

But after last year's financial debacle and

NDX

melt-up, I am taking a bunch of these off my screens in the office.

They are rapidly becoming a waste of eyeball time.

How bad is it? Other than

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

, I have NO positions in major financials, the lowest exposure I have ever had. You want to bet against me? It has been like that for four months. You may already be betting against me, which means I am taking you to the cleaners.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long Goldman Sachs. 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.