"If you think the banks would work, why not buy them before the Fed meeting?"
I got this great question a half-dozen times this morning off my
piece last night about a financial rally. And what a great one it is!
Join the discussion on
Message Boards. The answer why you can't be premature is twofold: One, the banks routinely have a knee-jerk response to Fed rate hikes that allows you to buy them cheaper; and two, if the Fed says the wrong thing about inflation (creating fear), you won't make money with this idea.
Understand, it is totally unconventional and counterintuitive to even like the financials with a Fed rate hike ahead. I am even willing to postulate this thesis because I think that the banks are no longer as hostage to rates and are much more fee-based than they have ever been.
This view is not what others think. It is my view. Most people want to short the banks when the Fed raises rates.
So why am I so bold as to be different? One, the banks are done buying each other, so no more stock is coming. Two, the banks are now retiring stock, not issuing it. And three, the Y2K spend, which was so abominable for these guys, is over.
But I am an opportunist first and foremost. If I can buy something cheaper by waiting, I will exert that patience.
And if the banks don't come in, and just ramp up? Well, then I blew it and I got it wrong. It happens all of the time in the real world. You just don't ever see other managers admit it publicly. Bad for the marketing effort. I have no marketing effort. I just have a conscience.
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