CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Monday said the meltdown in the oil market is “emblematic of everything” that’s “going wrong” in the economy.
“So many things are broken, so many prices have gone haywire in every different industry that the averages themselves are no longer capable of relaying what publicly traded companies are actually worth,” the “Mad Money” host said.
Crude prices have collapsed completely as the West Texas Intermediate turned negative for the first time in history. The futures contract for May, set to expire Tuesday, lost all of its value and then some to finish at negative $37.63 per barrel. The price is down nearly 122% this year.
That means oil producers are willing to pay traders to store the oil amid a coronavirus pandemic that has depleted demand for the substance. Worldwide lockdowns have spelled trouble for the cruise line, airline and restaurant industries, resulting in an extreme lack of demand for travel and, in turn, oil.
Those industries would benefit from cheap oil prices in normal times, Cramer said.
“Really, this is a windfall for anyone with storage, because right now you could make fortunes simply being paid to take oil and stick it somewhere. Then you can sell it off at a higher price a month from now,” he said. “That’s a malfunctioning market that it couldn’t work today. It simply shouldn’t happen, and it didn’t involve a lot of volume.”
With shopping centers ordered shut, even more consumers have resorted to spending money at online retailers such as Amazon and Alibaba, while Shopify outfits businesses with software to take advantage of the e-commerce economy. Vertex produces essential medication for cystic fibrosis, he added.
Oil stocks, however, are uninvestable here, given that many oil companies could find it hard to keep their businesses above water, Cramer warned.
“The main takeaway from today is that our economy remains closed,” he said, “and when an economy is closed … you don’t need a lot of fossil fuels.”
Disclosure: Cramer’s charitable trust owns shares of Amazon.