It's noon and the Dow is down over 300 points (about 2.4% in this age of big numbers) and so, if it hasn't started already, people are going to try to say that the markets are rejecting the public's choice of a second Obama term, and of a larger Democratic majority in the Senate, or both of those things.
In late 2008, while markets were tanking, I was a guest on Kudlow where the host kept hammering me about how markets were reacting negatively to the impending Obama presidency. Kudlow, a professional economist, made this argument repeatedly for weeks, with a straight face, even as the financial system collapsed. Kudlow used to work for Bear Stearns, back when he was a hotshot forecaster. He knows better. But, he said it anyway because it made for good television and supports his political preferences.
If you'd invested on Kudlow's argument that the markets hate Obama, you'd have missed out on a more than doubling of the Dow and the S&P 500, which both bottomed around the time Obama took office. And, of course, if Kudlow had really believed that markets were tanking in anticipation of Obama, he should later have credited Obama with his first term bull market.
So, just to clarify about today's action -- it might have something to do with fear of continued gridlock and the fiscal cliff, but I doubt it, as nobody expected the election results to solve those particular issues.
More likely issues:
- Greece faces a huge austerity vote amidst crippling protests in Athens. If Greece's parliament can't pass a budget that the European Union will accept, the possibility of a Greek euro exit returns.
- Economic growth is slowing in Germany, which has been the EU's growth engine through these lean times.
- Michele Bachmann retained her house seat. (Just kidding).
Any headlines you read that blame today's stock losses (which, for all we know, will be reversed tomorrow, or not) on the election can be dismissed as either lazy or partisan.