While the sell-off on Friday may have felt very sudden, Jim Cramer has seen the market going down for a very long time. With the average stock in the S&P (^GSPC) down 20 percent from its highs last week, Cramer thinks investors should just get used to the notion that good news just won't matter right now.
"I want to talk about the psyche of a bear market so you can understand why nothing is working and the averages can't put together enough of a winning streak to make it so you can get anything but a trading bounce," the "Mad Money" host said.
It seemed to Cramer on Thursday that the market was finally making some progress in checking off the boxes of his market bottom checklist .
However, the combination of Federal Reserve official Bill Dudley's commentary about the need to tighten, plummeting oil prices and China 's market falling yet again on Friday unchecked all of those boxes.
"It's pretty clear by now that the Fed raised rates at exactly the wrong time and without some statement from them saying that they are on hold, we are in a bad way, especially given the nature of today's Fed head's comments," Cramer said.
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So should investors take advantage of the weakness and do some buying?
With all of those boxes unchecked, options expiration and a three-day weekend, Cramer thinks it is too much to do some buying.
"Better to hold on, wait, and get a better moment," Cramer said.
The fact that these boxes were unchecked as quickly as they were checked off has prompted Cramer to go into capital preservation mode. And with stocks being at their most oversold since 2011 — Cramer has no choice but to presume this is just like 2011 when it looked like Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ireland could bring the U.S. down.
Still, the U.S. is in better shape than it was back then, because the damage that $300 billion in the oil patch could cause to the market right now is at least containable, he added. Oil credit is much smaller than banking credit.
"So why not sit here and buy into weakness? Because stocks are more expensive than they were in 2011, and the Fed is no longer our friend," Cramer said.
Cramer thinks investors should keep some powder dry, sell weak stocks in the next spike up, keep a clear head and eventually this will pass.
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