Cramer: Is Trump Turning His Back on 'America First'?

 | Apr 13, 2017 | 5:40 AM EDT
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Is Trump really sacrificing the American worker to a chimerical bargain with China to end Kim Jong-un's run in North Korea?

If that's the case, then he should welcome himself to the foreign policy club, the one by presidents who always seem to sacrifice our workers to keep the world safe.

I get it.

Plus, of course, South Korea is a friend.

Sure, South Korea has walked all over us, exporting millions of cars but taking very few of ours, while we keep a dedicated Army of our soldiers to protect them. Yes, we have thousands of soldiers protecting them, but they do even less for us than Germany. No matter. That, too, is a bargain we have always made, one I was hoping Trump would rethink or revisit. (Thank you, writing partner Matt Horween, for reminding me of that conundrum.).

So, because of the North Korean dictator's threats, it seems to those who own the stocks of companies that have been hurt by the unfair trade with China and South Korea that we are back to the same old, same old. We won't get tough on trade with China because we need Chinese help with North Korea. We won't get tough on trade with South Korea, because they are the bulwark of democracy on the peninsula.

A major reason for the rallies in the steels -- and now the drubbings they got yesterday -- has to do with a belief that we are no longer going to let China push us around on trade. Same with the aluminums. The rails. Anything materials or material handling, including Caterpillar (CAT) . Sure, while worldwide economic growth may be greater now than it was, much of the move has to do with a belief we would end the "business as usual" doctrine with China. We would make sure they understood that their currency is still way too low.

But if we ask for Chinese help with North Korea, I can see why people would be antsy and dump these stocks. I could see why people would dump the rails, too. Anything that moves coal to steel, anything that allows us to get a return on steel, all of those industries do need protection from the rapacious Chinese and the South Koreans. It doesn't matter, by the way, that Trump says he thinks the dollar is too high, as he did in an interview last night. These countries make up their own rules, and that statement won't impact them.

Now, it is entirely possible that these stocks were all in the wrong hands, and this is the long-awaited shakeout. We've seen that in other winners, like the semiconductors. It might just be the desire to have fewer risky stocks right now.

And I think it is too early to tell if Trump is turning his back on America First in order to score a foreign policy victory. If he were, he wouldn't be the first president to do so.

Too soon to judge.

But if history wins out, then North Korea gets away with being North Korea, China does nothing and we would have, once again, been had. And the sales that were made, sadly, will prove to be good ones.

(What will move markets this quarter and how should investors position themselves ahead of time? Jim Cramer sat down with four of TheStreet's top columnists recently to get their views. Click here to listen to his latest Trading Strategies roundtable with them and read their advice for stocks, bonds, forex and gold.)

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