Striking Out the Money Managers

The shocking declines among the heavy fund hitters illustrate a few important points about this market.
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My favorite momentum indicator, the IBD Mutual Fund Index, is in danger of going negative. This development, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average still in the high teens for the year, is stunning. No, make that shocking. It is the equivalent of every team in a 23-team league playing less than .500 ball. Unimaginable.

Remember, this index is a compilation of the best money managers around. We have

Alger

,

John Hancock

,

Pimco

and

Strong

. There's

Brandywine

,

Berger

and

T. Rowe Price

.

Contra

,

American Ultra

,

Putnam

and

Janus

.

These are the hitters. These are the guys that, earlier this year, were hitting the ball out of the park. Some of these guys were up 25, 30, 40%. They were headed to

McGwire

-like years.

Now it is all in cinders. Some of these guys' numbers are so terrible that they should be sent to double-A ball. Others are probably on the disabled list and we just don't know it.

This stunning decline indicates two things. One is that everybody is long tech, because it is indeed tech that is getting its head slammed. Second, individuals, even with this terrible recent tape, aren't going to give more money to these guys. They can do it better themselves.

Short term, this index is severely oversold. I know that an index such as this technically can't be oversold. It is not a stock. But I do find that some of these managers panic when things get this bad and, in a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, start buying their stocks to move back their performance. This weird buy-to-save-my-year pattern can't be proved. But that doesn't make it lacking in rigor. It happens.

It is another reason why I am growing more bullish, short term. These firms have the firepower to make themselves right on a short-term basis. They have done so for THIS WHOLE DECADE.

They will attempt to do it now.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund had no positions in any stocks mentioned. 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

letters@thestreet.com.