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Rest in Peace: 'Uncertainty'

November 7, 2012: 2:00 PM ET

Corporate America's favorite excuse bites the dust.

FORTUNE -- There are lots of things I'll be glad not to hear anymore. Campaign ads. 47 percent. You didn't build that.

But, most of all, I'll be glad to be rid of "uncertainty."

This single word has become the excuse emblem of corporate America during President Obama's first term, explaining away everything from static headcounts to sluggish acquisition activity. Never mind that companies are sitting on record amounts of cash, or that stock market bulls have been slaughtering the bears for nearly three years. If CEOs aren't 100% certain about what tomorrow will bring, they just can't bring themselves to even get out of bed in the morning.

It's a wonder that some of these folks haven't tried to monetize sunrises.

Those spouting the uncertainty line kept tying their stasis to Election Day, suggesting that they only could move forward once the final votes were tallied.

Well, now it's over. Obama won the White House. Democrats kept the Senate. Republicans kept the House. Meet the new government, same as the old government.

We know The Affordable Care Act isn't being repealed. We know Glenn Hubbard isn't taking over at Treasury. We know China will not be named a "currency manipulator" on January 20. We know that Karl Rove will stop asking for money.

To be sure, we don't have complete clarity. But the point is that we never do. And if CEO's cite "uncertainty" over the fiscal cliff as their reason for not moving forward, then they might as well close up shop. Because after the fiscal cliff will be some other macro economic crisis, and then another and then another election.

Corporate America need to get over the fact it isn't the Wizard of Oz that Dorothy was searching for, and accept that it is the Wizard she found. Powerful, but not omniscient.

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About This Author
Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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