Hope you're happy with yourself, Supreme Court. You just killed America's economy.
That was the snap conclusion CNBC and Fox Business Network reached in the minutes following the Supreme Court's surprising decision to uphold President Obama's signature health-care reform law.
Minutes after the court's ruling, CNBC flashed on its screen the declaration: STOCKS SELL OFF ON HEALTH CARE DECISION.
This came as CNBC was interviewing Barclays Capital stock strategist Barry Knapp, who said the health-care reform's affirmation would raise all sorts of uncertainties and be bad news for business and investor confidence, meaning the stock market would fall forever.
"Our view was that if the bill was upheld it would be a clear negative," Knapp said.
But let's take a look at just how terribly damaging this ruling actually was to the stock market.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down about 100 points at 10:00 a.m. ET, minutes before the court's ruling was announced. It was down about 89 points at 10:20 a.m. ET, after most of the world (excluding CNN and Fox News) realized the court had upheld health-care reform.
By 10:40, it is true, when CNBC was interviewing Barry Knapp, the Dow was down to its worst levels of the day, off by nearly 160 points. But it has since "rebounded," if you can call it that, to a 120-point decline.
That's not an awful lot of movement for a fairly surprising decision that will supposedly destroy the economy. And in any event there is no surer way to make an idiot of yourself than in trying to hang great significance on minute-by-minute moves in the stock market.
Update: As a matter of fact, by 3:40 p.m., about 20 minutes before the close, the Dow had clawed all the way back to a much-less-terrifying 66-point decline. Maybe the Supreme Court didn't destroy the economy after all?
Update Two: The Dow ended the day down just 25 points, in what Carl Quintanilla of CNBC tweets is the biggest one-day comeback for the Dow in five weeks. Behold the wisdom of crowds!
What's more, there's another way of possibly interpreting the health-care decision, from a macroeconomic perspective, which is that maybe the Supreme Court ruling removes one very large uncertainty from the discussion.
At 10:48 a.m., Reuters wealth editor Lauren Young tweeted: "'Employers are relieved. They can move forward. It removes some of the uncertainty,' source at big consulting firm says."
Yet throughout the morning, CNBC's anchors returned to the economy-killer theme again and again, reporting that their sources were saying that now suddenly everybody is going to be uncertain about what will happen to the nation's health-care laws after the highest court in the land basically rubber-stamped the biggest health-care law in the land.
Will Republicans be able to repeal it? Will states opt out of it? Will all the nation's doctors will suddenly lock together, Transformer-like, into a giant health-care-delivering robot? So many uncertainties! So naturally businesses across the country will have no choice but to shut down all activities, holding off on all hiring or spending, until all of these questions are answered, or the giant health-care robot eliminates the need for insurance companies, whichever comes first.
Fox Business Network is just as certain the economy was doomed. Their correspondents and sources, too, labeling the decision "an economy killer," calling it a new tax and "another area of uncertainty." They, too, declared this the reason the stock market was down Thursday morning.
"He's so hypocritical. He's hurting middle-class families," one guest on Fox Business Network's "Varney & Co." said of President Obama. "Special-needs families rely on flexible spending accounts. No more! I mean, he's hurting so many different people, and they don't even realize it."
Shocking no one, wanna-be President Mitt Romney agreed with all of those Chamber of Commerce members talking to CNBC and Fox Business Network.
"Obamacare is a job killer," Romney said, a single tear rolling down his cheek in honor of all the jobs that would be lost.
Just as stunningly, some group called the Job Creators Alliance said it would no longer be creating jobs now that health-care reform has been upheld.
“Today’s decision not only leaves the hurdles to job creation that Obamacare posed untouched, but adds additional uncertainty to the economy which will make it much more difficult for our economy to grow," the group wrote, sounding very much like what people had already been saying all over the business television channels.