Ahh, the temptation. The innate belief that this time, yes, this selloff, really was the last time we would see these levels. Tomorrow we will rally and all will be well again.

And why do we harbor these feelings of optimism? Because it has happened before. Things have always worked out for the best since 1982. Why should this time be any different?

As I wrote earlier, I am paid to be a skeptical optimist. Skeptical because not all rallies are real rallies. Optimistic because the bulls have had progress on their side.

We think the market could rally, but that no rallies are worth buying -- and all are worth selling -- until we see some definitive signs of a slowdown. By the time we see those signs many companies may not be able to make their estimates. That's why we keep seeing sustained strength in things like

General Mills

(GIS) - Get Report

and

Philip Morris

(MO) - Get Report

.

The big question will be whether we can anticipate the slowing economy. Can we bank on the soft landings? Can it occur before tech gets too hurt?

That I don't know. Which is why, in the middle of the carnage Monday we bought

Pepsi

(PEP) - Get Report

AND

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

. We bough General Mills AND

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

. We are hedging our bets. It is too hard to do it any other way.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long Cisco Systems, General Mills, PepsiCo, Applied Materials and Philip Morris. 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.