Can wounds heal over the weekend? Can the horrible last half-hour of trading on Friday be cured by a benign
, a quiescent
that leads with a potential
settlement? Has enough time passed between the Friday
free fall and today's opening bell?
I hope so.
It's the IBM matter that has to settle down, though, if the tone is going to change. The action on Friday in that stock was pure chaos. The market makers had lost control. For no good reason. Because the understanding the company was putting out was that it did not know yet how the quarter came out.
That "did not know" was meant to contrast sharply the expectations of some that IBM was on the verge of warning about a bad quarter. The guidance was given to alleviate that -- or at least that's how I, someone who is long IBM, understood it. (It is entirely possible that if you are short IBM, you understood this a different way. But the thrust of my understanding comes more from what I heard five analysts say than from looking at my position sheets and the red ink dripping from the IBM position.)
The market, choosing to define the IBM news through
cautious comments, stoked by the
break-in, simply couldn't handle the dissemination of neutral news correctly. If I didn't know any better, it seemed that the action in IBM triggered some sort of ripple effect in the rest of the
Let's say that thousands of market makers thought that IBM was going to close at 175. They had bet tons of dollars on such a close.
But when it could not hold that level, an immense amount of selling came in. And when it could not hold the 170 level, the selling spilled over into the rest of the market. The result was an extremely disappointing session for the bulls and a total triumph for the bears.
Now the question is simply: Can that action be put in context? Can we just blame expiration if nothing comes out of IBM this morning? Or is this strictly Humpty Dumpty and the damage has been done?
My take is that if no new negatives come out of tech this morning, you'll have to buy tech stocks. But if we follow through with actual dismal news, as opposed to rumored dismal news, you can expect
10,000 to be strictly rearview mirror.
an interesting piece about me today (just in case you care). I think it is balanced and correctly captures the pros and cons of what I am trying to do. The reporter is right: I am not a journalist. I am a commentator. The piece I've written above is typical of the blurred lines that the term "journalist" creates that are sidestepped by the acknowledgment that I am a commentator. A journalist would not even think to write about IBM if he or she were long it, because the journalist would surrender his objectivity. I agree with that. That's why
reporters own no stocks.
But I am not objective, nor do I mean to be, nor do I claim to be. I am long IBM. Does that mean I am corrupt? Does that mean I think that IBM shouldn't have gone down 9 points? No to both. IBM went down what it went down, and I was simply on the losing end of IBM. Whether it should or shouldn't have gone down is irrelevant -- it did! I am not corrupt; I was just wrong. My interpretation of IBM did not pan out on Friday. Maybe it will today.
Should I not be able to write about IBM because I own it? Man, that's just plain stupid. I don't even want to debate that -- although others continue to do so. As long as I disclose I am long, you know where I am coming from and you can take my comments with a grain -- or a box -- of Morton's salt. But if you think I shouldn't write, as some journalists (particularly journalists employed by competitors of
) seem to hold, all you are saying is that the people, the readers of this column, are dopes. They can't be trusted with anything. It does come down to that. I believe the reader can make a judgment and is intelligent. My detractors seem to think otherwise.
I have some bad news for them: The reader doesn't like being called stupid, especially when he or she isn't. These people should stop focusing on me and start focusing on trying to explain the markets better to help, and not obfuscate, investors. After all, that's what it's really about.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At the time of publication, his fund was long IBM and Microsoft, 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.