Was It Last Call Before the Last Tightening?

The trader uneasily sits out a swell market wave.
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Was it real?

Am I too negative? Could be. Sure. If the numbers are soft this week, then we will have something to hang our hats on. We were angry today that the market rallied so swiftly on nothing. We were mad that we had come in too negative and too blinded because of how hard it has become. We thought that much of it was short covering and markup and we didn't want to play.

But a 7%

Nasdaq

move must be caught by every hedge fund manager. You had to be longer than we were to take advantage of the rise.

We recognize that if the numbers later this week -- payroll and purchasing managers -- are slow, then what we saw today might be the beginning of an urge to play "the last tightening" that will occur at the end of next month.

Once the last tightening is in place, people will buy anything, as I have said many times of the year 1994. They will buy the semis and the networkers and the computer companies and the aerospace companies and the construction-oriented companies and the banks, if this is the last tightening.

We chose to wait and see. The thought that the negativity that engulfs all of us who are in the market every day could ignite a multiday rally doesn't work for us. Only slow data work.

But if we get that slow data, we have to be open-minded enough to act. Even if it is on top of some points that got racked up without us. We left tortured and worried that the data would be slow and we would miss too much in the interim. Isn't that typical? Isn't that what has been going on for two months now?

We left thinking that maybe the nightmare has ended. Maybe payrolls have weakened enough and purchasing managers' reports have weakened enough to please the

Fed

and that's what the buying that wasn't markup was about.

Darn I wish it were Friday. Darn I wish I knew the answer. But it does seem possible that at least this set of numbers could give us that answer.

Another week where the stakes seem unbelievably high.

What else is new?

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

jjcletters@thestreet.com.