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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Has America gotten frugal? Jim Cramer asked on Mad Money Wednesday. Cramer said it appears Americans now have changed since the Great Recession of 2008, just as our grandparents did after the Great Depression.
Higher inflation numbers have always been met with rising interest rates, Cramer said. Yet, after today's red-hot inflation number was released, interest rates actually fell to their lowest levels since the fall of 2013. How can that be?
Cramer said it appears the historical linkages have been broken post-2008 because our behavior has changed. The American consumer is still afraid. Borrowing remains low, home buying is down, couples are having fewer children, children are living with their parents longer -- all signs the nation has simply gotten more frugal.
Yet, all around us, things continue to get better, Cramer said. The U.S. federal deficit is shrinking thanks to increased taxes, and the Federal Reserve is tapering its bond-buying program monthly. Corporate profits are up, mergers and acquisitions are on a tear, unemployment is falling. All of these are signs to buy stocks, not flee into bonds.
Cramer said investors need to use this artificial weakness to take advantage of these discounts in the markets. Eventually, these discounts will begin to dissipate.
Investors looking to find out what really went down during those darkest days in 2008 need to pick up a copy of former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's new book Stress Test, Cramer told viewers. He said the book offers a detailed look at what went wrong, what was done and the reality of what happened behind the scenes of the worst financial crisis to hit the U.S. since the Great Depression.
Cramer said there is a lot that can be learned from Geithner's accounting of events, not the least of which is that prior to 2008 the financial statements provided by the big banks were essentially meaningless. Even the regulators weren't able to decipher the massive wrongdoings.
Second, Cramer said the book outlines that today's banks are far more contained than anyone realized. Geithner's only choice at the time was to slap the entire industry hard, and his stress test programs that are now in place will forever curtail the banks' ability to make money and return money to its shareholders.
The demons of the past will continue to haunt the banks, Cramer concluded, which is why the banks remain a terrible place to put your money.
Executive Decision: Steve Hughes
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Steve Hughes, chairman and CEO of Boulder Brands (BDBD), the healthy foods maker that's home to such brands as Smart Balance, Earth Balance and Glutino.
Hughes said Boulder Brands now consists of six brands, encompassing everything from plant-based products to gluten-free to frozen items. He said that Smart Balance remains its largest cash generator, which is allowing the company to build new infrastructure and introduce newer brands to its existing retailers.
When asked about the company's drop in gross margins, which has sent shares plummeting in recent weeks, Hughes explained it as an anomaly. He said that historically margins have been in the low-40% range, but in the most recent quarter it dipped to 37%. Hughes expects that number to bounce back to normal levels.
Turning to the healthy eating trend, Hughes said eating well is going mainstream, as the company's partnership with Target (TGT) is proving. He said for many people, choosing to eat gluten-free, for example, is a self-discovered option and one that more and more people are trying and sticking with.
Cramer told viewers that Boulder Brands has an interesting story and one that investors should take time to learn more about.
Executive Decision: Doug Tough
In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Doug Tough, chairman and CEO of International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), a stock that's up 13% so far in 2013 thanks to its most recent seven-cents-a-share earnings beat.
Tough started off by saying IFF has labs all over the world and is customizing its flavors and fragrances for local tastes to ensure the company is always giving the customers what they want. He said his company has the best technology, which is helping it win new business and grow faster than the industry average.
Among the company's strengths is the ability to make good food taste better, Tough noted, and that includes making healthy and organic foods taste better as well. Tough also said IFF's customers are constantly adapting to the changing marketplace, which means constantly reformulating IFF's products.
On the fragrance side, Tough said IFF is working with celebrities and designers alike to bring new and innovative products to market.
Cramer said IFF remains one of the markets greatest success stories.
Am I Diversified?
In the "Am I Diversified?" segment, Cramer spoke with callers and responded to tweets sent via Twitter to @JimCramer to see if investors' portfolios have what it takes for today's markets.
Cramer said this portfolio is most certainly not diversified with three tech companies. He suggested keeping Facebook and adding a health care stock and a diversified industrial.
Cramer said this portfolio can't have both BP and Chevron. He suggested selling Chevron and again adding a diversified industrial.
Cramer, after a brief pause, said this portfolio was "perfect."
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-- Written by Scott Rutt in Washington, D.C.
To email Scott about this article, click here: Scott Rutt