This article originally appeared Sept. 6, 2013, on Real Money. To read more content like this, + see inside Jim Cramer's multi-million dollar portfolio for FREE Click Here NOW.How much pent-up demand is out there, really? Is that, perhaps, the missing ingredient behind the strength that we are seeing in this domestic consumer market? There's no doubt in my mind that the real place to be this fourth quarter is in international companies. We have the possibility of real tailwinds coming out of Europe, now that we have multiple stronger economies and, yes, a stronger currency (all perfect timing given how lean our companies are over there). China's coming back in a way that is stealthy, through targeted infrastructure, and we can see that they have drawn down a lot steel, coal, iron and, as of some just released figures, copper. (We started buying back Joy Global ( JOY) yesterday because almost everyone has downgraded it and China is now opening a new coal plant every 10 days.) But the biggest surprises this week have been all domestic. The car sale story, as talked about as it is, still doesn't get enough attention. I think that 17 million cars could be more like it. I don't like the housing theme and I think it hit a wall, but it isn't a wall that moves housing back to where it was. It just retains it as these levels. Mortgage rates are elevated, but we didn't see a big drop in applications this time. Some were trying to say that's because rates dropped down a tad. I would like to believe that, as a housing bear. But I think that what really happened is that rates stabilized and buyers came back. Plus, we got still one more great number from a retailer skewed to hard goods, with Costco ( COST) confirming, AGAIN, that the consumer's spending, but just not on apparel. I think this is a sign that we have simply misjudged the pent-up demand from the unemployed going to the employed. We just got it wrong. When these people come back into the workforce, they buy tangible goods. Or when they get a second job they go buy a new car. Rates for cars, by the way, haven't gone up. They've gone down, something that's as stupendous as the inversion where higher mortgages get lower interest rates.
It's just a fact that this pent-up demand was far bigger than any of the prognosticators figured because it hadn't snapped back yet from the Great Recession. That's because, we are now learning, it snaps back only with job growth and we are getting that growth in the U.S. economy. What's helping it, by the way, is the recognition that if you have the ability to get to Texas or North Dakota and some parts of Colorado and Wyoming, jobs await you. That was quite evident from an interview Home Depot ( HD) CEO Frank Blake gave to CNBC yesterday where he said that they just opened a new Home Depot in Williston, N.D. because the Bakken formation is creating so many new jobs and so much construction. These jobs are coming fast and furiously now as the Bakken, the Niobrara, the Delaware Basin in the Permian and Eagle Ford are showing to have much more oil than thought as recently as two years ago. So, we are discovering day by day that the demand is exceeding forecasts simply because the people getting jobs look to have been buying nothing and doing nothing for the five years intervening since the recession. That's why people keep getting the numbers wrong. They stopped counting these people. They are back. They are buying. And they are keeping the domestic economy humming in a nation where 10-year rates have almost doubled in a few months. It was really never about the rate of credit with these people anyway. It was about getting credit at all. When they left the workforce, rates were much higher anyway. This might turn out to be the theme for the last part of the year. Bulls should hope people keep misjudging it. That's how the domestic stocks can go higher. That's how Ford ( F) and General Motors ( GM) break out to unheard-of levels and it is how the regional banks regain strength as demand comes back in all sorts of places that we had just plain forgotten about.