Special Guest: Berko Steps Up to the Plate

Jeff Berkowitz returns from vacation to fill Cramer's shoes, both in the trading turret and on <I>TSC</I>.
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(Editor's note: James J. Cramer is off this week spending time with the Trading Goddess and the family. So we've asked Jeff Berkowitz, Cramer's partner at Cramer Berkowitz, to offer some of his thoughts from time to time during the coming week. If you have any feedback for Jeff, feel free to fire us a note.)

Coming back from a week off, I'm still trying to get myself acclimated to the trading desk. It's mid-August, and you should be able to hear the wind howl up empty streets around here. But the typical dreariness has given way to more volatility. Everyone's a little more relieved this week, compared to last week at this time. But given last week's action, I found myself checking in with Cramer from vacation more than usual.

Still, checking in isn't like being at the desk. It takes a little time to get back into focus at the turret. Though Cramer's out, I'm sure I'll be hearing from him before too long. It's an August like that,

vacationous interruptis

.

I've studied last week's charts more closely over the weekend. It was like a tennis match. My neck is sore watching the back-and-forth. Almost all the negativity early in the week was interest-rate-driven, not earnings-driven. That's why the good retail sales and

PPI

numbers helped us bounce back. It looked like we were oversold anyway coming into those numbers.

Looking at today, it's hard to see a lot of excitement ahead of tomorrow's

CPI

report. With all the interest-rate fear still close to the surface, a bad number will sting. A good number could help solidify the rally.

I'm watching

Hewlett

(HWP)

,

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

and

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

as early tells today. Even with the CPI tomorrow, it's important to look for any opening to exploit.

Random musings:

I'll be doing a little bit of writing all week. And in true Cramer fashion, I'll be stepping before the bright lights for the

TSC

television show this weekend. I'm ready. ... Why no "Dollar"

Bill Bradley

on the cover of

Barron's

this weekend? Six months before the primaries, it's already just

Gore

and W.

Jeff Berkowitz is a partner in hedge fund Cramer Berkowitz with James J. Cramer, co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, the fund was long Hewlett-Packard and Dell. The 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 the fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Berkowitz'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.