Jim Cramer: Washington Pulls the Rug Out
It's indisputable that we were about to take off in this domestic economy after a slow recovery from the recession.
The twin trends of a return to a slow climb in the value of housing as well as the renaissance of industry courtesy cheap natural gas were enough to get things rolling. The lack of new construction, the age of the average car -- 11 years -- the need to be able to get out of your in-laws' house and buy housing of your own, something that had actually been put on hold, all of these had created what looked to be a sustainable recovery, despite the problems in Europe that were clearly worsening.
You don't get fantastic numbers for companies as varied as PetSmart (PETM), Cisco (CISCO), Home Depot (HD), Kors (KORS), TJX (TJX), as well as Boeing (BA), Ford (F) (domestic), Dow Chemical (DOW) (domestic) and pretty much every consumer packaged goods, aerospace, telecom and health play if things aren't improving. Yes, we can complain about the earnings, but the retail, restaurant, housing and auto industries were all doing incredibly well as recently as October and the question was going to be, I believe, how much longer can the Fed stay accommodative in 2013 if these trends pick up. It's really only the companies that have moved aggressively into Europe and those that depend on Asia for marginal growth that have been really hurting and we have had enough hopeful signs in China for me to believe that 2013 could be a good year for the companies depending on the Peoples Republic of China for its recovery.
All of these trends meant that the most important statistic, the one that is most correlative to the stock market -- employment -- was going to turn up in 2013. That was going to be the elixir that made it worthwhile to be bold and buy aggressively.
Suddenly, all of that is out the window. Suddenly, none of it matters. Once again, Washington has pulled the rug right from underneath us and every one of those positives is now either being overlooked or simply don't matter because they are about to change for the worse.
That's what we saw yesterday with that awful press conference where the president made it pretty clear that there is no hope for anything to happen quickly to resolve what 2013 is going to look like and we are going to see sharp increases in taxes and sharp declines in spending that can trump all of the good news we have been seeing. There's simply no need to hire and plenty of reason to fire until we get there and the smartest executives are going to be like Dave Cote from Honeywell (HON) and not hire to respond to the regular retirement quota that occurs naturally at big American companies.