Editor's Note: Jim Cramer's column runs exclusively on RealMoney.com; this is a special free look at his column. For a free trial subscription to RealMoney.com, click here. This article was published April 25 on RealMoney.

These days just punish you. They make you feel like you're permanently at the dentist, where the good moments are when the Novocain needle comes out of your upper lip and when the dental dam is taken out of your mouth after some solid root canal work.

Look at these brokerage stocks. They are like getting drilled without painkillers. Every one of them.

And why not? The regulators are catching up to the shenanigans, and who knows how deep they'll drill? They can read who's getting the headlines, and it isn't them. They know they have to make someone pay for this market.

That's why I hate it when these stocks go down. They are true barometers of where most stocks are going, and they are signaling a far-from-robust market.

Consider this: I might be right about the moving bull market in housing, defense, health care, nonpharma, auto, casino and retail. That simply doesn't add up to either a lot of mergers or a lot of IPOs.

The combination of the regulatory threat and the lack of large-cap stocks to buy or create is just killing this sector.

So what happens? If I'm right and my thesis keeps playing out, you can only own one brokerage stock,

Prudential

(PRU) - Get Report

, because that one has no conflicts. It is the model that Eliot Spitzer wants.

Terrific. I own it. Bad, most people don't.

I still think you can battle your way through this market, but there is no denying it: Your goal right now is no cavities. Lots of downside, not a lot of upside and very expensive.

Right now the brokerage stocks are where the nastiest cavities lurk. They must be avoided.

Even with Novocain.

James J. Cramer is a director and co-founder of TheStreet.com. He contributes daily market commentary for TheStreet.com's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO. Outside contributing columnists for TheStreet.com and RealMoney.com, including Cramer, may, from time to time, write about stocks in which they have a position. In such cases, appropriate disclosure is made. At the time of publication, Cramer was long Prudential.

To see his personal portfolio and find out what trades Cramer will make before he makes them, sign up for

Action Alerts PLUS. While he cannot provide personalized investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to send comments on his column to

jjcletters@thestreet.com.