The lag in banks and small businesses makes Jim Cramer less optimistic about a V-shaped economic recovery

The U.S. economy has the potential to bounce back quickly from the coronavirus recession, but don’t expect a boom to happen without a bounceback in small businesses and in turn the financial sector, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Wednesday.

“I think the economy’s going to look better six months from now, but based on the action in the market, it’s probably not going to be [great],” the “Mad Money” host said. “I’ll start believing in a V-shaped economic recovery the moment we get a V-shaped recovery in the bank stocks, but not before.”

“Until then, the only real boom will come with a vaccine,” Cramer said.

The comments came after a trading session where the major averages all retreated, Apple reached a new milestone and the Federal Reserve released notes from its July meeting.

The S&P 500, one day after the index hit its first highs since February, touched a new intraday high during the trading day, but the benchmark finished down 0.4% at 3,374.85 after the central bank delivered a bleak economic forecast. The 30-stock Dow dipped 85.19 points for a 0.3% decline to settle at 27,692.88. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.6% to 11,146.46.

“As I see it, the pandemic has caused some permanent changes in the economy, and if those changes aren’t rolled back, you might not like where we’re headed,” Cramer said.

In the morning, Apple‘s market valuation crossed the $2 trillion mark, doubling its market cap in just over two years after becoming the first $1 trillion U.S. company. The stock closed up 0.13% at $462.83, though the valuation slipped back under $2 trillion.

The broader economy, however, remains in tough shape. The Fed warned in the July minutes that the “ongoing public health crisis would weigh heavily on economic activity” in the near term and that it posed “considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term.”

Despite encouraging data coming out of recent earning reports of big box retailers, weekly mortgage application volumes in housing and the commodities markets, Cramer said the weakness witnessed in the financial sector leaves him concerned.

“They can’t get out of their own way. They are so far away from their highs, it’s incredible. I would feel a heck of a lot better about the economy if the big banks were going up and the financial technology stocks were going down,” Cramer said.

“I think the weakness in the banks is far more important than Apple hitting $2 trillion today or the homebuilders rallying or even commodities going higher because it’s about credit risk, and credit can really hurt the stock market.”

The KBE, or SPDR S&P Bank ETF, is trading 32% under levels at the start of the year, severely lagging the roughly 4% gain in the S&P 500.

“Small business is integral to our economic future, and right now that’s what’s being eroded, if not being wiped out,” Cramer said. “That makes it a lot harder for me to be as optimistic as I’d like because, sooner or later, that pain will make its way into the market, most likely via the banks … which is why they’re doing so poorly.”

Disclosure: Cramer’s charitable trust owns shares of Apple.


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