For CNBC’s Jim Cramer, the worst part about the Federal Reserve’s latest interest rate hike is that the central bank’s chief, Jerome Powell, seemed to ignore what Cramer regards as “serious” weakness in the U.S. economy.
“I have a better read on the economy than the Fed and I know they’re not going to listen to me,” the “Mad Money” host said Thursday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell to a 14-month low. “I feel powerless, just like 2007, when I ranted that the Fed needed to start easing aggressively in order to stave off a financial catastrophe.”
In the Fed’s Wednesday announcement, Fed Chair Jerome Powell lowered his forecast for U.S. gross domestic product, a key measure of economic welfare, but said the Fed would likely still hike rates twice in 2019.
Cramer questioned Powell’s reasoning. He reiterated that the economy has cooled since October, as demonstrated by weakness in consumer and corporate spending, and if it continues to weaken, more interest rate raises will only cause “a nasty slowdown.”
On Thursday, Carnival, a cruise line operator, forecast weaker-than-expected first-quarter profit, the first sign of “real softness” in the travel and leisure space, Cramer said. Consulting and outsourcing services provider Accenture followed with its own forecast, which he called “pitiful.”
“If you’re buying stocks here, … you’re making a bet that Jerome Powell will learn what I know already: that the economy’s downshifted enough … that he doesn’t need to move, [that] he knows that the next rate hike will be real bad for Main Street,” Cramer said.
While Powell stays the course, though, the “Mad Money” host recommended buying into the “bull market” in gold. He liked RandGold, a mining play with a 3 percent yield and steady production growth, or an exchange-traded fund mirroring the price of gold called the GLD.
And even as he admitted that “the odds simply do not favor stockholders,” Cramer warned investors that they might regret selling out of stocks because “when Jay Powell recognizes that he’s wrong, … the market will come roaring back.”
“Sooner or later, the weakness will be undeniable and he’ll have to change course, which is a reason why you can own stocks,” he said. “I’m confident in my judgment, so confident that I’m sure Powell will have to reverse course, maybe in the next four months. When he does, you’ll regret selling because the market will rebound so fast.”