Manifesto for a New Market: Part 6

Looking for the next big winner is now part of the game.
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Editor's note: This article concludes James J. Cramer's "Manifesto for a New Market," a week-long series discussing the changed conditions of the stock market in the Year 2000, how stock-picking works now and why. Be sure to check out previous installments in the series by clicking on the above tile.

How can we not want to find the next

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

or

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

or

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

or

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

or

Sun Micro

(SUNW) - Get Report

? We would be nuts not to.

These were the lottery tickets we could have bought. They are the ones that were right in front of our eyes the whole time.

The amazing thing about them is that we could have owned them and others in their cohort and, even if the others had gone bust, these would have more than made up for them. They would have made us rich.

Indeed, that's the goal. So, the act of pursuing nothing but finding the next big winner is actually a rational, if not brilliant, behavior. And that's why this market will never be like our parents' market. In those days it was indeed possible to find a stock that might go up a great deal, continually add to it and really and truly do well. We would read periodically about people -- usually in their obituaries -- who had amassed enough

Coke

(KO) - Get Report

or

Kodak

(EK)

or

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

at cheap prices that they were actually more well off than we knew.

That's not what we are talking about here. In our collective lifetime, in a short period of time, it has been possible for an investor to have a personal gold rush by looking at the papers, hearing about a couple of good companies and buying them. Many people who worked at these companies had

no choice

but to become millionaires. Many fund managers were made to look great by these outsized winners.

Because of these gains, it was possible to be

undiversified

and do better than being

diversified. That rocked the bedrock core values we were taught in business classes. Because these gains weren't taxed if you did not take them off the table, they often exceeded anything you could make in ordinary income. Because these stocks correlated with things that people use -- PCs, the Net -- they were not arcane treasures but

purloined letters -- right in front of us, hidden yet accessible at all time.

The rapid nature of the rises of these stocks made other investments, notably

bonds, gold and real estate seem like a huge waste of time.

Bonds are now something people think should never be owned. And who can blame people who feel that way -- considering how much money Microsoft made? Bonds just give you your money back!

So the hunt made sense. The hunt to find the ultimate stock turned out to be a national pursuit because it worked. If you didn't do it, you were and are a fool. That's never happened in investing before.

Of course, it could all end. But at the same time, I can tell you that you could sell millions of millions of shares of these stocks and not knock them down because others are willing to pursue them even as you take them off the table. I guess what I am saying is these winning stocks are not tulips, which always would have gone down if everyone had decided to let go.

These winning stocks changed everything. They gave us all a rational hope of getting rich. That's why they are quintessential to this manifesto for a new market.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long Yahoo!, Cisco, Microsoft, Intel, Sun Microsystems, Coca-Cola, Eastman-Kodak and IBM. 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.