Information Overload

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Talk about information overload. Remember that scene in

Strangers on a Train

where

Hitchcock

cuts from the tennis match to brutality and back over and over? That's what it was like Wednesday trying to focus on the new wrinkle of the

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

case on my screen, then on

CNBC

for the war and impeachment, then on my screen again for the havoc caused by the expiration-related sell programs.

There was so much confusion that, at one point, the market seemed to lose its own feel for what was right. The anti-Microsoft judge issues the most pro-Microsoft statement of the whole shootin' match, and the stock was going down, dropping from 134 to 132, as if Judge Jackson had ruled

Gates

in contempt! Sinking like a stone. The largest stock in the largest market ignored the largest piece of news about the largest antitrust case? Wow. That's pretty amazing -- market imperfection of the highest order.

The surreal nature of the experience dawned on me when I thought, hold it, if I take that 132 1/2 stock, aren't I making a bet that the air strike is surgical, that the job will be done and done quickly and that there will be no ground war? Am I making a bet that I will wake up on Thursday and the war will be over? Can one take be that heavily laden with current events?

Of course, in the time it took me to realize I had to have that 132 1/2 stock, others did too, and the stock did an about-face and ran back up to 134 and change. The market had momentarily come to its senses and bet that Microsoft has a shot of getting out of this thing alive and well, courtesy of

America Online's

(AOL)

combination with

Netscape

(NSCP)

.

The callous nature, the

East of Eden

implications are lost on no one. It is sick to think about how to make money when others are making war. But in this bizarre electronic-war era, I know the market will open at 9:30, so I can't abdicate my job for the sake of the news.

Microsoft is therefore my microcosm of the situation; it is what I have come to know about war and bombs and trading. When the smoke clears, Jackson's gone positive on Mr. Softee. And that's why I was buying, not selling.

Random musings:

Chase

(CMB)

joins

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

with a better-than-expected quarter. Could

J.P. Morgan

(JPM) - Get Report

have been sending the wrong signals? Could the money-center banks have the dollar right this quarter? Some desks somewhere were obviously well positioned. Or maybe, as I have been arguing, you are beginning to see the fruits of the decline of Japan as a price leader in virtually every debt market Chase plays in. Chase is the premier debt house at a time when you want to be a debt marketer...

I'll say one thing for the

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

bump by

Oppenheimer

: It was well timed. I got my Amazon mug in the mail the day before, the one you get for being a good customer. Didn't get anything from

Borders

(BGP)

or

Barnes & Noble

(BKS) - Get Report

...

Hats off to

Seth Tobias

in the

Journal

for admitting what nobody likes to say in Thursday's Heard on the Street column: Yeah, Amazon's overvalued, but that doesn't mean you can't make money in it. That simple exposition, of course, is what is hated by most of the low-wire act with Net money managers out there...

Can we get that guy

Blair

to be president? He seems like he has a lot of guts and intellect -- without all that sex in the Oval Office bathroom stuff...

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

At the time of publication, his firm was long Citigroup, America Online 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

at

letters@thestreet.com.