CNBC’s Jim Cramer is not short of macroeconomic worries, but one that he can’t quite get on board with is the worry that another U.S. recession is near.
“Listen, I’m worried about many things: I don’t want another government shutdown, a dramatic increase in tariffs, the super-strong dollar that hurts our exports,” he said Monday on “Mad Money.” “But I’m not joining the recession camp because the data just isn’t there. Maybe we get more of a deceleration, but an actual recession? Right now, I find that very unlikely.”
The reason? Investors are “no longer fighting the Fed,” he said, repeating a phrase he has used in recent months to explain the stock market’s tendency to stop rallying when faced with a series of interest rate hikes.
“A couple of months ago, the Fed seemed woefully out of touch with the slowing economy. That’s no longer the case,” Cramer said. “Fed Chief Jay Powell has finally figured it out. He’s not going to tighten — slamming the brakes on the economy — if the data continues to get soft, even if we still have robust job growth. That alone is enough to keep a recession at bay.”
Cramer: Earnings reveal 'brutal truths' on US-China trade
Bernardo De Niz | Bloomberg | Getty Images A KFC restaurant in Beijing
If the latest round of earnings reports taught us anything, it’s that traders aren’t always right when it comes to U.S.-China trade talks, Cramer said Monday as whispers of a potential trade summit kept stocks at bay.
Specifically, traders who bet against stocks like Nike and Starbucks when talks go south — usually assuming that they’ll be boycotted because they’re distinctly American brands — could have “the China trade” all wrong, he told investors.
“This earnings season has revealed some brutal truths about ‘the China trade’ that just don’t jive with the … conventional wisdom,” Cramer said. “We act like the winners and the losers from the trade war are obvious, but the reality’s a lot more nuanced than that. Many companies that should be hurting in the People’s Republic have been putting up some astonishing numbers, while others are being torn to pieces by increased competition or the slowing Chinese economy.”
White House officials have confused Wall Street with their statements on the trade talks in recent months, at times signaling progress and at times suggesting that the two sides were still far from reaching an agreement.
As a result, short-term stock-pickers have had to follow their instincts, Cramer explained. When tensions seem to be rising, they’ll usually choose to short-sell shares of top consumer brands, capital goods companies and technology giants, he said. Short-selling involves trying to profit on a bet that a company’s shares will decline in the near future.
Nike, Starbucks, Estee Lauder and Yum China all tend to fall in the first short-selling bucket, but if you ask the “Mad Money” host, that strategy “just hasn’t paid off.”
Click here for his full analysis.
Hasbro CEO on Toys R Us pain
Adam Jeffery | CNBC Brian Goldner CEO of Hasbro
Toymaker Hasbro may have taken a harder-than-anticipated hit from Toys R Us’ store closures this quarter, but the problem shouldn’t linger in the year ahead, Chairman and CEO Brian Goldner told CNBC in a Monday interview.
“Brands that had been supported for years by Toys R Us clearly were impacted,” Goldner acknowledged on “Mad Money,” citing stalwart brands like Nerf that got dinged when Toys R Us gutted its store inventory.
But the first fiscal quarter of 2019 will be the last investors hear of the Toys R Us woes as Hasbro finally annualizes the last quarter in which it shipped Toys R Us product, the CEO told Cramer.
“We see it as a disruption and an interruption in our growth, but as we go forward, we’re absolutely confident that we get back to the growth trajectory that we had been on over a number of years,” Goldner said.
Click here to watch and read more about his full interview.
S&P Global CEO on women in the workforce
Scott Mlyn | CNBC Douglas Peterson, CEO, S&P Global
Getting more women involved in the U.S. economy could generate a $1.6 trillion boost, S&P Global President and CEO Doug Peterson told CNBC on Monday.
“In our research the last couple years, we’ve been looking at what would be the impact on markets if women had a higher participation rate? And we used Norway as kind of the benchmark,” Peterson told Cramer in an interview.
“In the United States, if we were operating [at] the same level of women’s participation as Norway, our economy would be 8 percent bigger, $1.6 trillion larger, than it is right now,” the CEO said.
Better yet, having women enter and stay in the U.S. workforce could add some $5.8 trillion to the total global market cap, he said.
Click here to watch and read more about Peterson’s interview.
Norfolk Southern CEO sees growth ahead
Alyssa Pointer | Atlanta Journal-Constitution | AP Norfolk Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Jim Squires.
Railroad operator Norfolk Southern is widely seen as a reliable barometer for the U.S. economy, and on Monday, its Chairman and CEO, James Squires, told Cramer that he sees it humming along.
“When we look at both the macro indicators and when we do our channel checks, we feel good about the current business environment and we do think we have growth opportunities with our customers this year. So, overall, the climate looks good to us,” Squires said in an exclusive “Mad Money” interview.
Calling Norfolk Southern’s plans for the year ahead “aggressive,” but “achievable,” Squires attributed the lofty goals to the power of Norfolk Southern’s brand and a cost-cutting process called precision railroading.
For more on the company’s outlook, click here to watch Squires’ full interview.
Lightning round: The long and short of CRSP
In Cramer’s lightning round, he flew through his responses to callers’ stock questions:
Crispr Therapeutics AG: “The short term: it seems to be under pressure a lot. The long term: I like the idea and I think it could go higher. I will say that if you really want to be in that business, you should be buying the stock of Illumina.”
Etsy Inc.: “I think that this is the craft Amazon. Really good management. I would stick with that.”
Disclosure: Cramer’s charitable trust owns shares of Amazon.
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