Jim Cramer: Put Europe Back on Your Radar
NEW YORK (Real Money) -- You can't ever be complacent about anything as big as the still-wrenching economy that is Europe. I have said all year that Europe is not affecting us so far, that the measures put into place by the European Central Bank last year are working, meaning that Europe has shown a degree of stability that is welcome. I didn't want anyone to sell our stocks because of the declining economies there, notably Spain and Italy, as well as the potential for a real plunge in France.
That has been the right call so far during this bountiful start to 2013. In fact, it's been the right call since the summer, when Mario Draghi, the ECB chieftain, said he would do whatever is necessary to preserve the currency union.
Now that free ride looks like it is ending. This morning, Draghi talked about how the euro is too strong and how it is hurting European competitiveness. He did not, however, cut rates, taking back the second of two rate hikes that his predecessor, Jean-Claude Trichet, mistakenly put through since the financial crisis erupted in 2008. Oh, and I use the term "mistakenly" because I am trying to be a diplomat. It was a disaster.
By acknowledging that the economy is staying weak but not cutting rates, Draghi succeeded in only freaking out the world's markets -- our futures dropped precipitously this morning after his statement. At the same time, he did get the euro down against the dollar, something that is not welcome for U.S. companies that have emphasized selling product in Europe in the last decade but is certainly welcome on the Continent.
Draghi's negative statements amount to an investing clarion call to put Europe back on the map of worries, even as we heard recently from a host of U.S. companies that Europe has started to stabilize, although it is a decidedly mixed picture.