Friday, November 29, 2013

What companies comprise "The Dow" and how they have changed over time. I see Creative Destruction, globalization and division of labor. What do you see?

On the nightly news (and throughout the day on cable new stations, i.e. CNN, Fox Business, CNBC) there are  updates as to how the stock market is faring.  The most quoted measure is the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA). It is also referred to as "The Dow".

What most people don't know it that this oft quoted measure comes from the performance of 30 companies. Yes, that is right, just 30.  They are generally regarded as bellwether companies that represent a large/dominant presence in their particular market sector.

This graphic below (from HERE) illustrates how the composition of the DJIA has changed over time.  Because of the shifting nature of economic due to the forces of Creative Destruction the companies that make up the Dow change as well.

Note differences from the the first column to the third.  The list on the left is heavy on mineral extraction and manufacturing.  The list on the right still has some of that but there is clearly a shift to soft manufacturing (pharma, healthcare), technology and retail. Finance/Banking/Insurance is present today where there was none in the early days.

Another observation.  The companies on the left were much more vertically integrated. Meaning they owned more of the supply chain from beginning to end (inputs to outputs). They relied less on the cooperation of others to produce their product.  The companies on the right  depend more on a globalized supply chain of outsourced and/or off-shored inputs to produce their outputs.

Source: The Conversable Economist
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