A Turnabout; Microsoft's Failure; Nasdaq Travesty: Cramer's Best Blogs

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Jim Cramer fills his blog on RealMoney every day with his up-to-the-minute reactions to what's happening in the market and his legendary ahead-of-the-crowd ideas. This week he blogged on:
  • the slide in housing sales and consumer spending;
  • Ballmer's failure to innovate; and
  • the Nasdaq halt in trading.

Click here for information on RealMoney, where you can see all the blogs, including Jim Cramer's -- and reader comments -- in real time.


The Shoe Moves to the Other Foot

Posted at 3:56 p.m. EDT on Friday, Aug. 23

The shoe is now officially on the other foot.

Last year at this time, the U.S. consumer and the homebuyer were buoying our markets and offsetting the declining markets of Europe and China. Now the exact opposite is occurring.

As U.S. housing sinks badly, the Fed can't really counter it, and might not even want to given how unaffordable homes are in many areas of the country. Housing became too overheated in some of the biggest areas. We had just begun to have bids above the offering price abound in some of the biggest markets. There was a developing shortage of homes all over the place.

Higher rates are putting an end to both. But they are also putting an end to a key prop of the U.S. economy and the stock market. Meanwhile, the consumer has slowed spending, particularly on apparel, even perhaps on the home, as the stock of Home Depot ( HD) is a terrific barometer of home spending. While the quarter was beautiful, the stock's telling you not to be complacent.

Meanwhile, all the data out of Europe have turned positive. First, it was manufacturing. Now it is service employment. I think Europe could have good year-over-year growth by this time next year.

China? After about a year of "worse than expected" macro numbers, the turn is at hand. The Baltic Freight Index verifies that and the run in the shipping stocks confirms it, too.

These two positives can offset the two negatives. However, they don't buoy the same stocks. The turns in Europe and China, synergistic as they are given that 25% of what China sells goes to Europe, will help the gigantic multinationals in this country. That's what seems to have the best bids underneath. At the same time, the domestic spending stocks, the bulwark of the market for so long, will either take a breather as higher rates cool things off and then recharge when rates stabilize (albeit at a lower level) or just be written off for the year entirely.

On the fence in this debate are tech and banks. Tech should be better with Europe and China coming back, but you can't jump the gun as Hewlett-Packard's ( HPQ) results tell you.

The banks? They do better in a sloping curve environment because they can pay you next to nothing and lend and invest your dollars at much higher returns. In the interim, though, they have to readjust their book of business because the higher rates have slammed down the refinancing gold mine and the lack of affordability has hurt mortgage applications. Banks are in flux.

We just don't know enough and we just don't have enough data to make a good decision.

At the time of publication, Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, had no positions in the stocks mentioned.


A Vicious Coda to the Ballmer Years

Posted at 10:26 p.m. EDT on Friday, Aug. 23

To survive as a technology company in this day and age you need to be dominant in social, mobile and the cloud.

Steve Ballmer's Microsoft ( MSFT) failed terribly with the first two -- despite owning Skype! -- and says it's big in the third, but I don't know a soul in the business who thinks that.

That's why, in the end, he had to go.

The market is brutal. The swift reaction, a gigantic gain, is a vicious coda to the Ballmer years. I keep thinking that Microsoft was the one company with the capital to have figured out how to change. Most companies that fall out of favor both with the marketplace, meaning the actual business, and the investing public don't have that money or that luxury. Think of Kodak.

But Ballmer's Microsoft was brimming with cash. At any given time Ballmer could have bought Netflix ( NFLX) or Twitter or Yahoo! ( YHOO) or even Sprint ( S) and reinvented the company, turning it into a social and mobile powerhouse. But he never did. Instead he hooked up with a sinking Nokia ( NOK) for mobile and never monetized Skype the way he should have and failed to buy Yahoo!, which was a dreadful decision.

We know now that the activist Value Act played a bigger behind-the-scenes role than many, other than my colleague David Faber, thought. It could be a new dawn for Microsoft. But please remember, in the end stocks trade on earnings and unless we hear about an instant successor or Bill Gates decides to pull a Howard Schultz and run it all over again, the stock can't maintain this elevation and a better chance will be had to get long.

At the time of publication, Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, had no positions in the stocks mentioned.


That Was a Travesty

Posted at 4:15 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Aug. 22

Where was the back-up system? Where's the redundancy? Where were the people who run the Nasdaq? Where was the SEC?

Of course, nowhere. We know that.

Today's three-hour Nasdaq halt was a total travesty. We all know that there are plenty of back-up exchanges available that could have been ordered into action by the government

We know that if the SEC demanded it, the Nasdaq would have had to put up a redundancy system.

We know that if the SEC demanded it, someone from Nasdaq would have had to come out and say something -- anything -- about what was happening.

And worst of all, we know that the odds are we will never know what really happened, just like we never found out what really caused the flash crash and we never got any clarity on the what happened in the Facebook ( FB) IPO.

Just a totally disappointing day all the way around EXCEPT for the stock market itself, which was, quite frankly, huge, led by the transports and not even stopped by the decline in Hewlett-Packard's ( HPQ) earnings.

I think that unless we get something fixed here, unless we get answers, we will, once again, have still one more wave of people getting out of the market.

We never really recovered from the flash crash, which was more severe in terms of the psyche of the investor than almost anything other than the week of the Lehman collapse. Some would say it was worse than that because we could never trust the asset class again.

I can't blame a soul for pulling out of stocks after today. Without answers about what happened, it makes a ton of sense. Because this whole business of stock trading has been sacrificed on the altar of high-frequency trading and the protected broker interests and nobody is protecting the little guy any more.

At the time of publication, Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, was long FB.

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