Sometimes slow data come at an inconvenient time. Like this week. Until we saw the construction spending and purchasing manager's reports that were just downright weaker than expected, I know I was convinced that the slowdown just wasn't happening. I had received dozens upon dozens of testimonials from readers that things had gotten softer, but I had come to expect that every piece of data that come out would beat expectations handily.
Last week in a gloomy market I stared at the calendar of events that was this week and said "oh no, purchasing manager's, that's going to show prices still going up and the market could get killed, and then if payrolls are strong, we could get crushed."
I did not say to myself, "maybe this week we will finally get weak data." Apparently others didn't either because many were caught off guard. That was wrong. I was wrong.
When I saw the data I did not think "Oh boy, my on-line diary was way too gloomy." I thought: "Heck this is good news, gotta get longer." I did not say "hmmm, it was the bottom when I am reading
Matt "I Still Believe" Jacobs
his Miranda rights for recommending a long in my presence." Instead, yesterday, I turned to Matt and ask him "what should we buy?"
I didn't think "didn't I say that 1995's resurgence had a lot of false starts in
1994, maybe this is one of them." I did say "I can't miss this rally."
You see there is one inveterate flaw in my column: my ability to change. It is not your ability, it is mine. I have to be able to change so I don't become a relic. I could be consistent for the sake of consistency, and just ignore data that make me more positive, in order not to read angry emails that begin with "weren't you just gloomy?" Or I could please my partners, who are paying me a lot of money to get it right.
I can't reconcile the two. I was wrong to be so gloomy if the data were soft. I was right to be so gloomy if the data were strong.
Heck, so far the data were weak. We get a strong employment number, and maybe I am wrong again. I think that a strong employment number will be rear-view mirror and that people will buy after an initial slamdown.
I could be wrong about that, too. They don't call this column wrong for nothing.
But remember why I write. I write because in my career I have been right a lot more than I have been wrong and I have made a lot of money in the market. If that had not been the case, why bother to read me at all? I am just some guy slogging it out. Maybe I am entertaining. Maybe hubris? I am as weak as the mock floor reporter I presented in last night's
tirade against wishy-washy reporting.
I think there is only one consistent takeaway from this journal: I work in a humbling business. I am prepared to be humbled by a number that flashes on my screen about three hours from now. That's what Wall Street is about. If you are afraid to be humbled by the market, stop reading and go buy a bond.
It is just that simple. I have to take risks. I have to be willing to be wrong to be right.
If I never takes risks, I make the risk-free rate of return
. People aren't going to pay me to make the risk-free rate of return. They can do that themselves. I am paid to make money. If I don't make money I am not paid. I can never say "you know, I don't care that I am wrong, I am sticking with my views," and expect to stay in business.
In the year 2000 I have seen many people go out of business who would not change. They probably get good email about not changing. But they don't get paid.
I don't want to be one of them. I'll take the pain of bad email. I just don't want to take the pain of losing money or doing nothing when I think money can be made, no matter what my previous stance may have been.
That's how you lose your job on Wall Street. That's a humbling I simply won't accept if I can do anything about it. So I change when I have to. I adapt. I get humbled and I adapt. Because I am too young to go fishing full time, despite the obvious pleasure that would bring, and I am too difficult to hang out at home without driving my wife crazy.
Lets go make some money.
: I loved
rewrite this morning. Loved it. But I have one problem with it: my kids love
. They love the games.
is one of the reasons why we are long Go.com at
. But Herb's right about one thing You cannot sign up for Daily Blast, their paid service, without it screwing up. We have tried to sign up three times, the latest was last night, and we can't do it. Although it does accept your credit card. So now I am paying for a service I can't get., Go's commerce system is broken. Hopelessly, I am afraid.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long Go.com. 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