Profit-taking is just as insidious as any other kind of selling, except it has to end -- when the profits are taken.
Usually about this time in a selloff, you have strategists who have been bears pounding the table for their case (we sure had that yesterday). We have people instant-messaging each other about how the world is coming to an end (plenty of those too, despite
Berlin Wall around messaging). We have the beginnings of capitulation and references to '87 and, of course, '29 (got that yesterday in spades, including a nifty overlay of
Radio Corporation of America's
chart from the Great Depression on top of AOL's current price chart).
To which I say, I have seen it all before. This is a garden-variety selloff, even in its own pungent viciousness. Why do I say that instead of casting my lot with the ursine folk?
Because the stocks nobody has profits in aren't going down.
Because this selloff was virtually ordered by
, who questioned whether the rise of stocks is sustainable.
Because it happens every year that the market has had a big run come summertime.
We all want to be original thinkers. We all want to come up with some radical thesis about this particular rally or that particular selloff. I am not going there. I accept the risk of boring you by telling you that we have seen these before.
This selloff feels like so many others during the summer that I even hesitate to tell you my game plan. But here it goes: I have a lot of cash. I am deploying it gradually into the selloff. Yes, I am buying some of
The Stocks Everybody Loves into the weakness. And I am looking for daytrades away from tech that can give me a point or two while I wait for that exquisite panic moment -- and don't I know that from my "everybody's human" phase from
Oct. 8 of last year -- to get aggressive.
I know this: When everyone starts talking about how big the correction is going to be, you are probably pretty far along in the correction.
Even as I write, the stock futures are way up and Europe has turned. I am gratified we bought a little yesterday, but I cannot yet reach the conclusion that all the profit-taking is over.
We are also nicely oversold, which helps stem the velocity of the decline. As my partner,
said to me on the phone while I was on the tarmac yesterday, if I didn't have a dime in this market, I would be buying like mad. But I have many dimes in. And I am taking my time adding more dimes. I am not, however, selling anything. I don't need to raise cash. I have cash. I just need to buy good stocks cheaply, and that is what this selloff is allowing me to do.
Many of you were wondering why I didn't file yesterday. I'll give you the two-word answer:
. A simple jump to Dulles turned out to be a harrowing, obnoxious, uninformed, multihour venture involving mechanical difficulties, bumped planes, late planes and a level of stupidity that I reserve for my father's Army stories.
United, if you are listening, clean up your act. Don't strand people at Newark with a ticket associate who knows only to give her name, rank and serial number, like some sort of well-taught prisoner of war. As you never tire of saying, "We know you chose us." Next time I am choosing somebody else.
Went to my daughter's swim lesson yesterday -- kind of a
wannabe, I guess -- but the Y people kicked me out. No folks allowed.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long America Online. 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