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Was last week real, or was it mark-up? As we sift through the wreckage of today's trading, we have to wonder whether the institutions that were buying stock last week were doing so to take performance up high enough that they don't need to do illegal mark-ups at the end of this week.

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Remember, you can't move stocks to benefit your performance; that's a form of manipulation. But the only time anybody looks at this stuff is the last day of the year. Far better to bid up the stocks the week before and then let them come down a bit and backstop them at lower levels.

Too cynical? Hardly. In a business where the payoff is many times that of those who point shave, you have to believe this kind of marking occurs. If I am right about this, we aren't going to have much more of a decline beyond here, as the institutions that moved the stocks up don't need a lot of capital to keep these stocks at these levels. That's why I am confident in buying some


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(down 20) or



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I am not saying this action isn't disconcerting. I am simply trying to explain why the stocks might have gone up so much and then come down so fast in what otherwise should be a very sleepy session.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of At time of the original publication, his fund was long Yahoo! and pcOrder. 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