Jim Cramer wasn’t selling stocks in Tuesday’s wreckage. Here’s why

Jim Cramer explains why he stayed the course during Tuesday's market plunge and did not sell

CNBC’s Jim Cramer said he was not marching in the parade of sellers Tuesday, as the major U.S. stock indexes on Tuesday recorded their worst one-day drop-off since June 2020.

“Look, I cannot blame anyone for panicking after we got still one more red-hot consumer price index number, showing that non-commodity inflation has yet to peak,” the “Mad Money” host said, acknowledging it was a “horrendous day no matter how you slice it.”

However, Cramer said investors rarely make wise decisions when they panic, so it’s important for long-term investors to keep their focus on the big picture on a day like Tuesday, when only five stocks in the S&P 500 finished in positive territory.

“I’m not saying you need to buy something here yet,” Cramer said, noting his Charitable Trust, the portfolio used by the CNBC Investing Club, bought just one stock amid the wreckage. “We know a bounce may not directly be in the offing,” he added. “But the bottom line? We sure weren’t selling.”

Cramer said the reason he didn’t sell rests in his belief that the market entered Tuesday’s session in a no-win position. On the one hand, he said he thinks bearish investors overreacted to August’s CPI report, stressing it was only slightly worse than consensus estimates even though it likely guarantees a third-straight aggressive interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve next week.

At the same time, Cramer said if the inflation data had, hypothetically, come in slightly better than expected, bearish investors would’ve found a way to spin the narrative toward a focus on whether the Fed was being too aggressive with price pressures already easing.

Cramer said he’s choosing to look past that “false dichotomy.” Instead, he said he believes that even after the August CPI report it remains possible for the U.S. central bank to “thread the needle” and raise interest rates to control inflation without sending the economy into a downturn akin to the Great Recession. “This is not 2007 or 2008,” he said.

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