Hogwash aside, 2012 was a good year

Here's a word on this awful market discourse.

By Jim Cramer Jan 7, 2013 9:58AM

thestreet logoMicrophone on a lectern with a line graph Image Source PhotolibraryEvery year we see some themes that seem to transcend everything out there. These themes are like rising tides: They seem to take up all boats in the water, even ones that aren't nearly as sturdy as boats stuck in still waters or tides that are ebbing.

Last year was a bountiful year, with the S&P 500 ($INX) up 16%, including reinvested dividends. Yet it would have almost seemed like a down year if you'd listened to the chatter, or read the papers, or did anything that amounted to a superficial following of the market.

In short, it seemed market commentators, pundits and hedge-fund managers decided to leave their senses and focus only on Washington. This became the controlling issue in the discourse. It seemed like the main event. But in reality -- meaning actual stock performance -- it was a sideshow. The prevailing themes, the ones that stand out, that are quite obvious from looking at the charts, and they've totally trumped any stress from the Capitol.

That brings me to a thought regarding the next Washington crisis. We are totally right to stay focused on these various crises -- but only because, in a tactical sense, they create buying opportunities. As I look through the charts for 2012, I am amazed at how many opportunities appeared not from the companies themselves, but from Washington's shenanigans and election worries. In fact, I think 2012 will turn out to be the year when we began to see a pattern: You buy on Washington-inspired dips and you trim when it looks like Washington has its act together, which we know it doesn't.

It's pretty simple: What's good for business is anything but Washington, with the exception of the much-scorned Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke, who is still providing rocket fuel for some of these trends. What's bad for stocks is anyone inside the Beltway -- Republican, Democrat, doesn't matter.

But here's the key thing: As someone who is in the media, I can tell you that it's really easy to default to talking about Washington, and many of us like to do so. Why? Some think it is exciting. (I don't.) Others know the secret truth: It is easy because it requires very little homework. Anyone can have a view. You can pretty much state your opinion, and somehow that counts as valuable -- which is terrific, because you don't have to stress or read or give it a lot of thought. It's like a college bull session out there, for heaven's sake.

But the companies themselves are doing amazing things, and many companies are set up to do extraordinarily well, even if Washington does poorly. You would only know it, though, if you actually listen to the CEOs, talk to the suppliers and customers and get on those darned conference calls I am always telling you about. You can't really do that if you spend all of your time talking about senators and presidents and Medicare and "cliffs" and debt ceilings.

One other thought about this theme, before I get to where the money is: Investors, traders, philosophers and journalists have all coalesced into a wall of obfuscation. They have settled into speaking in a binary fashion on pretty much everything. You hear them say "The market's going up," or "The market's going down." My own themes have nothing to do with "the market."

Worse, these folks jabber about "risk is on, risk is off."

That's just a total refuge for those who have no idea what the heck they are talking about, and the fact that I am the only one willing to call them out on it makes me feel real comfortable. That's because, frankly, it's very easy to fall prey to this binary thinking. It requires so little effort: "We will go over the cliff; sell." Or "We will bridge the cliff; buy." Or "The Fed's easy; risk on" -- and, yes, "The Fed has been getting tight; risk off."

They augment this lazy thinking by appending very "knowledgeable" analysis about the CBOE Volatility Index ($VIX), which is another ridiculous insight. Do we really need a gauge to tell when there is a lot of fear? How about just watching the headlines and listening to people?

But that's what passes for intellectual market discourse, and by the end of 2013 you will all feel like me and know these people as charlatans, if you don't know already.
Charlatans? Yes. Because in the end, none of that drivel mattered.

I repeat: None of that mattered. It wasn't what worked and, ladies and gentlemen, "worked" is all that matters and all that will ever matter. We are trying to make money, not give lectures and not get awards for who sounds the smartest.

Believe me, as I get older, I wish more and more that it weren't like this. I say that because my methods of looking at companies -- starting from the bottom up -- are so time-consuming and such a drag on my days that I wish I could become a "risk-on/risk-off" talking head. I would then have my set list of things to say and ETFs to grab and futures to sell.

But there is a judgment in the end, and the judgment is that this did not make you money in 2012, and those who try to get away with it in 2013 will find a discerning spotlight right on them -- from me.

Sorry, I have to do it. It's OK -- it's been ages since I have been a bad boy, but I am surrounded by people who think and talk about risk-on/risk-off. To reiterate, they don't know what the heck they are talking about. All they are doing is using shortcuts and lazy thinking, rather than doing the heavy lifting, which happens to be the only thing I know how to do.


Cramer's face


Jim Cramer is a co-founder of TheStreet and contributes daily market commentary to the financial news network's sites. Follow his trades for Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust.




More from TheStreet.com

Jan 7, 2013 5:13PM

Case you haven't noticed Market is somewhat re-correcting  itself....

And some equities did quite well today....


NTU....left u a little note on the reply..


Ciao for the nite.

Jan 7, 2013 4:55PM

"What's good for business is anything but Washington, with the exception of the much-scorned Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke, who is still providing rocket fuel for some of these trends. "


With that statement alone, you have NO credibility, Cramer! Ben "Dover" Bernanke belongs in prison - not working for the Fed!

Jan 7, 2013 4:45PM
The underlying long term sentiment in the market is that eventually we will see manufacturing return to the US but only after wages have readjusted to those of Mexico, Korea, and China. Long sustained unemployment and inflation induced monetary policy will accelerate this readjustment. This is pie in the sky in my opinion. As we recoil from the losses in American purchasing power do any of you really think these countries will play fair and allow our products to infiltrate their markets?   Right,  we are fools to think this will happen but in the meantime the Internationals make massive profits, small business is forced to dramatically pull back, retool and or fail, and the middle class disappears into a distant memory.  As a side affect we lose our tax base, absorb massive debt, and I predict soon massive social unrest of which these shootings we now see are the result of hopelessness and confusion people like Cramer and his cohorts live by as a professional lifestyle. The media has unwittingly ; through the debasement and demeaning of organized religion, allowed Hollywood to fill the voids left  an unprotected population by the loss of a  religious philosophy to  violence and dysfunction. I think many like Cramer are victims themsleves.  Victims of their own ego and greed and their inability to recognize their own dysfunction. This is what I take away from this article. Sorry Jim but you can't change your stripes while still parading amongst the Charlatans as you call them.  JMHO
Jan 7, 2013 4:37PM
Are you guys nuts...last weeks 'sucker' rally was one of THE most appalling things about 2012...traders buying on 'cliff nonsense'...
Jan 7, 2013 4:11PM
The only reason we aren't in a full scale depression is because the Fed keeps printing money.  Since Obama took office in 2008 the money has supply has more than tripled.  If I was given money for nothing (no interest) I could make money as well.  The question is when the house of cards finally caves in--what then?  I personally am not willing to take the risk and will keep most of my money out of the market.  There has to be a correction it's only a question of when.
Jan 7, 2013 3:17PM

Cramer wrote:


>>>> You would only know it, though, if you actually listen to the CEOs, talk to the suppliers and customers and get on those darned conference calls


Just how pray tell do I get on the inside track?  You must know something I don't.


The common man being outside of that circle is exactly why it is not easy to play the markets.


Along with that, the article smacks of 20/20 hindsight.

Jan 7, 2013 3:11PM
Yeah I love how all the market investment 'advisors' like Clueless Cramer here are always trying to line their pockets by lying to get inverstors to piss away yet more money in the dysfuctional, uncoupled black hole that is the stock market. Looks like you are going to have to start working for a living like the rest of us there, Cramer.
Jan 7, 2013 2:45PM
He's a joke as is most the other so-called experts.  He is the "ultimate" con in his expertise.  He has none, period.  The "markets" are doing exactly what they do within a range that has continued and will continue. It is thievery.  Churn away you worthless cons. 
Jan 7, 2013 2:20PM
Ya Jim you are the voice of the people against the establishment, the lone sane voice. Not!!! Next month he will say something entirely different, the bad boy that he is. Not!!! Jim Cramer you are such an insider it is laughable, you are part of the problem.
Jan 7, 2013 2:14PM
Tens of thousands of wall street brokers, analysts, bankers, etc (including Cramer) sit around in suits and ties and produce nothing, yet somehow they all magically get paid. Money for nothing: the new American dream. 
Jan 7, 2013 2:06PM

I have to agree with Cramer today, I am as guilty as anyone coming on here and focusing on politics and not fundamentals.  One thing this year has taught me is that large scale so called "catastrophes" (europe, cliff, election) come and go but the market recovers and moves along and in the end good companies are still that, good companies.  The end of the world is predicted daily but to my knowledge it's still here.  (although I was right on Apple)

On a side note I am very interested to see the earnings for retailers this Christmas, I am wondering how much of a drain the on-line sales actually were and how much the consumer did spend.

Jan 7, 2013 1:56PM
Cramer was one of those people that he is complaining about.  I actually don't listen to anything he says anymore as he allows emotions to make decisions for him.
Jan 7, 2013 1:41PM

Now Re-Tog....That was just damn funny about those hogs...


Forgot to mention poor old Josephine, that we taught to dance....

She would squeal and snort, when we rubbed her back with wisps of hay or straw...

Then when we threw small handfuls on her back...She would jump and swirl around, oinking.

We are amused very easily.....On the farm.

But her last stop was in the freezer or on the dinner table..And we never taught a pig to dance again.

Today still, my 40-50 year kids have not forgiven me...But they have just about forgot. 

Jan 7, 2013 1:36PM
Cramer: Sept 15th Buy MM - Millenium Media .....stock at $15 plus ....today $11 ...... 30% loss - thanks mr hogwash .......
Jan 7, 2013 1:27PM

NTU........You have been saying that same thing for Months, long before or before Christmas time I took a Contrarian approach to your predictions or forecasts....But it's not my first time either..?


If you go back and read any of my previous comments, the theme is there...

Remember, I called for 300-500 DOW upside the "first week" of the year...???

The DOW was up 497 that Week.....OR

Up 331 for the "first 3 trading days" of 2013....That looks like a +300-500 upside to me...

With "earnings season" starting over the next few days...

Care to make any "gentlemen's bets." ?  Want some "picks" for the New Year. ??  

Jan 7, 2013 1:08PM

Hate to say it, but I'm not really "a middleaged white man", but I'm kinda tired of Israel myself...


Pretty much had it with all the goddamn whining I've heard all my life, that for the most part wasn't our faults...Or certainly not mine...

I would think if you were to look at their plight, through the eyes of a Black person or especially an American Indian....You might consider a different position about them...

I feel if they want to keep shidt riled up in the Middle East, then feel free;

But don't expect any Americans except Americans Jews to fight the Battles or Fund the Agendas.

Much like any other place we stick our nose in where it doesn't belong... 

Jan 7, 2013 1:07PM
As I opined several weeks ago.  Until we break through 13,700 we are vulnerable to a 10 to 15% skid.  It better happen sooner than later or a "negative" sentiment will set in.  I think the positive sentiment of last week has been eroded and we are now neutral. Too many vulnerable players are in now.  I believe the smart money has its finger on the sell button.  JMHO
Jan 7, 2013 12:57PM
Jan 7, 2013 12:40PM

We used to wash the Pigs here every so often, especially when they got real dirty or muddy looking.

Sometimes, they kinda liked it...Made them smell better too.


The "tough part" was trying to put Lipstick on them....


I never knew a hog could bite like a fkn dog.

Jan 7, 2013 12:04PM
DLH how exactly is President Obama "anti israel" ......could you be referring to Chuck Hagel who is under fire because he has the audacity to suggest that the US should put the interests of the US ahead of the interests of israel ......

The shame of the man .......how dare he oppose those who think we should fight for israel down to our last fighting man, woman and dollar !!!

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


StockScouter rates stocks from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, using a system of advanced mathematics to determine a stock's expected risk and return. Ratings are displayed on a bell curve, meaning there will be fewer ratings of 1 and 10 and far more of 4 through 7.

123 rated 1
262 rated 2
480 rated 3
651 rated 4
649 rated 5
629 rated 6
616 rated 7
496 rated 8
346 rated 9
111 rated 10

Top Picks

TAT&T Inc9



Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.

Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.

Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.