Watching the Philly Fed Index

Cramer and Berkowitz never would have guessed they would be watching these numbers.
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Whoa, when we are trading off the Philly Fed Index, we are in macro hell!

This morning at 10 a.m.,

Jeff Berkowitz

and I were huddled over our machines looking for clues from the Philly Fed about the strong vs. weak economy.

We were laughing that in all of the years that we have watched these numbers, we could not recall when we cared more about them. Having been born and raised in Philadelphia, I know the irrelevancy of the Philly area economy (it went straight down for years when the rest of the nation improved!). In fact, normally I would regard the last shot

Allen Iverson

took last night in that stunning but aborted comeback by the Sixers to be more important than the Fed's take on consumer spending in the City of Brotherly Love.

Nevertheless, we were shocked when the bonds rallied, taking stocks with them, the moment that this incredibly MARGINAL index showed a decline in strength. Wow, talk about instant pain vs. pleasure for any macro snapshot! If we are going to emphasize these kinds of numbers, we at Cramer Berkowitz have to trade smaller and with more conviction when we leap.

Still, the case gets built in favor of bonds. Slowing auto sales and yesterday's slowing airline numbers as

mentioned by

Holly Hegeman

, make everything else seem rosy. And in the final analysis for this market, the Philly Fed helps too.

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

letters@thestreet.com.