After the Fed made an “emergency” 75-basis-point rate cut the morning of January 22, CNBC’s “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer, who turned from optimist to pessimist, said it was too little too late.
“[T]his is obviously the kind of action I was most fearful of – which is that they would have to go panic and that they would get way behind the curve,” Cramer said on CNBC’s January 22 “Squawk Box.” “But, you know but once they do it, I’m less … I can’t hammer them as much. This is the kind of action if they had done it three months ago, we would have been safe.”
Cramer was described by Barron’s in August as a one-time “bull market cheerleader,” but he has since gone very bearish. On MSNBC’s January 18 “Hardball,” Cramer predicted the Dow Jones Industrial Average would decline 2,000 points over the next couple of weeks. However, he was a little less pessimistic after this rate cut.
“I think they got it right,” Cramer said January 22. “Obviously, I think it is too little too late for a lot of institutions. When I look at Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and the disaster of a quarter they reported and I look at the disaster of a quarter Citi (Citigroup, NYSE:C) reported and the disaster of a quarter that Merrill (Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., NYSE:MER) reported. It’s good to see that there’s a pulse over there. I think that it’s a good start.”
Cramer took a shot at Wall Street Journal reporter Greg Ip, who also appeared on “Squawk Box.”
“[Y]ou were saying in your article three weeks ago they were more worried about inflation,” Cramer said to Ip, who covers the Federal Reserve for The Wall Street Journal. “This is not the impression that you gave us whatsoever.”
Ip responded by telling Cramer it was the Fed that has since changed its position on the threats of inflation.
“They had a view and that view turned out to be wrong,” Ip said. “And they have responded accordingly.”
“I think we’re in a dramatic deflationary environment,” Cramer said an hour later on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street,” after the stock markets opened. “This is one of the worst deflation environments we’ve ever had – since 1932.”
Not everyone thinks the economy is on a collision course with Armageddon. Brian Wesbury, an economist for First Trust Advisors, L.P., said there would be a turnaround in the second half of 2008.
“[T]here’s a lot of panic out there,” Wesbury said on CNBC’s January 22 “Squawk on the Street.” “They’re going to put both barrels of stimulus into this. What it means to me is that the economy is going to be roaring – just roaring in the second half of 2008. I think the bottom is pretty close. I think there is too much panic here. The real economy is ok. It’s the financial sector.”