Tuesday, January 26

I’m calling out the Fed as lazy and irresponsible

CNBC’s Jim Cramer argued on Wednesday that “mixed” economic data, coupled with more hawkish rhetoric from the Federal Reserve, were to blame for the stock market’s volatile trading session.

“Remember what’s at stake here. We are now in the midst of earnings season, where we can piece together a mosaic of what’s really going on in the economy. If the economy’s fabulous, then the Fed’s current course — one rate hike in December followed by three more next year — is correct,” the “Mad Money” host said after the Fed reaffirmed its rate-hike plans.

But if the economy turns out to be weaker than it appears, then the Fed’s moves could prove dire for both Wall Street and Main Street, he warned.

The only way to find out if the Fed’s right is to look at the data, Cramer said. And right now, he sees a mixed bag.

First, he pointed to the latest earnings reports from railroad giant CSX and airline operator United Continental, both of which were much stronger than expected and helped the Fed’s case for raising interest rates quickly.

“But … when you assemble the rest of the economic pastiche, you find some areas that are downright hideous,” Cramer said. “Housing starts … fell 5.3 percent. The apologists were out saying, ‘It’s the storms.’ Will you give me a break? That’s a shocking and terrible number.”

Instead of trying to overshoot inflation with lockstep rate hikes, Cramer suggested that the Fed take a more measured, data-focused approach.

“The Fed seems to want to ignore anything negative,” he said. “Instead, they just want to lay down on the tracks of CSX. I’m calling them out as lazy and irresponsible.”

Click here for more of Cramer’s analysis.

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