It might get ugly here. I sense it. People are only used to making money. And they are used to making money fast. I would urge you, right now, to lower your expectations for what the stock market can bring you. We have had a tremendous run here, just tremendous, and now it's time to be more patient, less, well, exuberant about the market. It's just not so hot right now.
It's the expectation that anybody can quit his or her day job and go run money that has us in this fix. It got so easy for so long that I know of dozens of people who in the last few years have quit their jobs to trade. Dozens! And these people had good day jobs. Now I sense that they're unsure of themselves. They want answers. They want assurances. But this market won't let you give them. It's simply too difficult to have any assurance about.
Mind you, that doesn't mean I think it's going to go down. That would be easy. I would then just go
short as I did in 1990 and at times in 1994. It's going to be harder than that. It's going to be great one day, then awful the next.
will report a great number and go up, then the next day give it all back. Or maybe it will report a great number and go down. Whatever. It will simply be inconsistent, and inconsistent markets are by far the toughest because they are lower-probability markets.
I talk about this phenomenon quite regularly with
Matt "Sobering" Jacobs
. We talk all of the time now about how I really don't care about this great quarter or that great quarter if the companies are levered to Net spending or the spending of IPO-raised money. I don't trust it. Obviously, neither does the market. How can you?
Understand that I want things to be more bullish. It's more fun for my office. But I'll attempt to triumph either way. I just get the feeling after these last couple of weeks that we're in for some extreme inconsistency, a market that can't be banked on, and it worries me that many people have come to expect much more from the market than this one can give them.
Remember, I can only tell you what we are doing, not what you should do. We are staying liquid. We are waiting for the supply, that massive supply coming off lockup expiration next month, to find its level and way in the market.
One of our fundamental tenets at
is gauging supply and demand. The plethora of
IPOs backed up by the avalanche of secondaries has taken a relatively tight market over the last 10 years and made it very flabby. Until that is worked off, we're going to keep playing it lean,
even if it is not as interesting as we might like
. Right now, in light of the goings-on these last two weeks, the goal is loss avoidance. Later on, it will be capital gains.
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