November 28, 2023

In the face of a brutal market sell-off that has surpassed US stocks averages from their highs, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Thursday the market must go through the grief cycle before investors can see the bottom.

“If you want to be able to catch fish at lower levels make sure you have some cash to deal with … because the real rally can’t begin until we have these five stages of grief have worked through, “said the Mad Money host. “Once that happens, you don’t want to be without it.”

His comments come after stocks fell for the third session in a row and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite fell into negative territory over the course of the year. The Nasdaq closed at 12,723.47, down 2.11% from Wednesday and down 1.28% from early 2020.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 30,924.14, down 346 points, or 1.1%. The S&P 500 retreated 1.3% to 3,768.47.

The Nasdaq is nearly 10% below its high last month, while the Dow and S&P 500 are both more than 3% below their February high. Some investors are eager to buy the dip and continue to bull run, but Cramer suggested that there is more scope for stocks to decline because of the bond market, adding that many are against the market situation.

The investment community must go through the five stages of grief, which are denial, anger, negotiation, depression, and then acceptance, the host said.

“Even after a 6% decline, we still have a lot of opposition right now,” said Cramer. “People don’t want to believe the sell-off is real. The market has been this good for so long and a lot of newer investors have never seen this kind of chub, so the downtrend seems pretty surreal.”

Bond investors worried about the inflation that could accompany the US economic recovery are selling bonds and activity is bleeding in the stock markets. Institutional investors looking to the bond market are swapping technology and growth stocks in their holdings for cyclical and value names, and retail investors cannot afford to ignore this, Cramer said.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s comments put further pressure on bonds when he told the Wall Street Journal Thursday that it is monitoring inflation but after about a year there was almost no guidance on whether to change politics is on the table or not. Zero interest rates.

“Would it have been better if he said we had to raise rates? Probably because the bond market reacted violently with a surge in long-term interest rates, and that brought the entire stock market down,” Cramer said of Powell. “In short, stocks are hammered because the Bond Vigilantes, as we call them, are angry.”

Cramer suggested that a one-day decline in stocks by as much as 7% could accelerate the market to the grief acceptance stage “where there is a collective feeling that the market is pumping”.

Meanwhile, he said investors should have cash on the sidelines and wait for the right moment to hit the market bottom in the multi-week decline.

“We’re going to get bounces, bounces that people feel like their negotiations have been successful, but that’s not the case,” Cramer said. “When you brighten up … you will be ready for the moment of surrender, the crescendo, the acceptance that marks the trough.”