Sometimes you wish a discussion about the market could go on forever, like those late-night talks we used to have freshman year in the stairwells of
, my old dorm. That's the way I felt last night in the go-around we had on the "TheStreet.com" television
and the gracious and great
, the president of Tanaka Capital Management.
At issue: What to do with your money after this great run. Why now: Because the market is at its high, with all sectors participating. Why it was great: Because we all agreed, even as it sounded like we were disagreeing. You just wouldn't have known that until the camera stopped.
What did all of the reasonable people agree on? The notion that you have to take something
off the table, just so you don't end up giving back a huge amount of what you may have made during this run. Of course, if you have made nothing (I was going to write, "listen to the bears and made nothing," but that's seems like piling on), this conversation didn't have much meaning.
But if you were like most of the people who have read
these last few years, you knew what we were talking about and it encapsulated a lot of the thinking that has been woven through my columns these last few weeks.
If you look at the panoply of monies invested, a portion of it, the long term, is not part of this discussion. That's what made the Graham Tanaka view so cogent. When you have a great manager like Tanaka, you give him a portion of your assets, your 401 (k) or IRA, and you let him worry about it. He's your guy. You don't market time Tanaka; you let him run with it. Period.
But there are other people who have become intoxicated with the market and they are using money that perhaps was meant for other things -- homes, education, whatever -- and they are leveraging it, pressing the pedal to the metal, and that's wrong. Dagen articulated that view.
What I liked most though, was the intersection between Herb's view and my view. The reason why I love Herb's work so much, and have for a dozen years now, is that Herb understands the fallibility of it all. He knows that things go wrong. He knows that people can give back huge amounts through no fault of their own. I know it, too. We both share a common goal:
Keep losses to a minimum and the gains will take care of themselves
I hadn't seen Herb in a while and I was gratified when he reached out to me when I walked into the Green Room and said that he thought my "taking it off the table" pieces were the best thing I have ever done for
. He liked them because they represented an attempt by someone who is bullish to articulate a position that is prudent, given the run we have had. He knows that I can't stand the losses that could come, whether for me or you or anyone.
Herb wants me to keep at it. So does Dagen. We are watching too many people get too intoxicated with the gains and not scared enough of the losses. What a great time, in a phenomenally benign environment, to take 10%, 20%, 25% of your winnings off the table and put them into municipal bonds, or a cash-return account, or something that will look exactly the same if something goes wrong.
Could anyone be more optimistic about the prospects of this market than me? Could anyone extol more the greatness of the capitalist system than someone who pledges allegiance to
, the CEO of the largest company in the world (
); or someone who owns up to being an
; or someone who dug in his heels and bought more
even though he thinks
And I have taken something off the table. Shouldn't you?
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long Cisco, Intel and Microsoft. 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