You are never ever long enough in weeks like this. You will have always booted your
too early. You would have banged out that
on that downgrade. You would have sold calls against your
You would have kept some cash aside because you didn't know who was going to melt down next. You would have stayed short a broker or two, because, heck, they can't make any money anymore. You would have kept your puts on that housing company, because, well, the
failed to take heed and that meant recession.
Let me help. Everybody feels the same way after a 500-point two-day move. Everybody. I went home Friday feeling bittersweet. It's been a tough, up and down, year and I didn't want to give back recent hard-fought gains. The notion of the Fed ease was shocking, even to those who had paid attention to commentators,
being two of them, who could not refute the notion of an intramonth move by the Fed.
So I know I wasn't long enough. And what I was short. Heck, they took me apart. Just a few days before I had gotten a call from an extremely intelligent fund manager. We had been bothered by all of the same concerns that had bothered everybody else. He went over his lay-up short list. Two of the names happened to be positions I was short. So, I doubled down, confident that my work matched his. Both positions cost me huge this week, just huge, and the sting of them is with me as I write.
The funny thing about this week is that no matter how prepared you are for events, they can still overtake you. I have my list of stocks to buy when the Fed eases. It is all mapped out. I thought I would be able to put my plan in place in minutes. But sure enough, part of my plan was to buy calls on the bank index. Foiled, too many others wanted to do so.
Part of my plan was to buy cyclicals, but my faves,
, hadn't reported yet and I didn't want to buy a pig in a poke. Part of my plan was to buy the savings and loans. There I was ready and I put it into action. And part of my plan was to buy the brokers. But they were on everybody else's hit list, so I didn't get nearly enough in.
You never do.
It's so funny. I listen to the people on television, and speak to traders and brokers and managers, and not a single person I talked to saw this rally coming, save one emailer who was adamant enough to predict the time and date. I found myself, in the end, envious of those people with charters that make them 100% long at all time. They get all of these moves, without any shorts to keep one foot back. For weeks I had been feeling bad for these folks. But two days takes away a lot of that pain.
I have no doubt that the market will stumble again sometime. Stocks will pull back. One thing has changed, though. The bears, after prowling fearlessly since the advance/decline line peaked in April, now have something to fear. A Fed that wants to put your cash out of the reserves and into the market. A Fed that wants you to be more confident with risk.
What a change from two weeks ago.
Like 1990, the bear market ended in October. I don't know if a new bull market has started. But the game changed this week. Those who deny it will make less money than those who embrace it. My view, but I am betting that way.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-chairman of TheStreet.com.
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 by sending a letter to TheStreet.com at