Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 92: Taking Stock

So, the DJIA finished down another 400 points today. This will of course lead to much gnashing of teeth.

The left will say it's the fallout from the Bush years, scams by the Banksters and Corporatists, GOP obstructionism, lack of tax revenue, etc.

The right will say it's the left's failed policies, entitlement spending, too many taxes, etc.

Who's correct?

Neither of them. Both of them. But the bottom line is, the DJIA swings up and down every day. Sometimes the swings are big. Sometimes they are not. In all the years these things have happened -- has it made an impact on you? How?

Most likely it hasn't meant a damn thing. That's because the DJIA is an outdated way to evaluate the health of the U.S. economy. Not many common folk even understand what's being measured. It's a look at a supposedly representative sample of major corporations that is supposed to provide a decent snapshot of our national business climate. But it doesn't. For one thing, it only measures 30 publicly traded companies in the entire U.S.

How many companies are in the U.S.? Does 30 of anything adequately measure the big picture?

I had an argument years ago with a statistician who represented what I thought was an absurdly small sample as appropriate for the company. But I was told that even though the sample was indeed miniscule, she alleged that it was "statistically accurate."

Look at it like this. If you took a baseball player's batting line from one game in a season, or even two, that can be considered "statistically accurate." If that batter's two games read 1-9, four strikeouts, that's not a good indication of the player's abilities. I assure you, anyone can find lines like that in the careers of Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ted Williams or any other Hall of Fame player. The sample is too small.

Same with the DJIA. Ford and GM aren't part of the index (GM was booted a couple of years ago). Two of America's dominant 20th century companies aren't included? Think the demise of the car industry would have an effect on the Dow?

10 percent of the DJIA companies are pharma companies. That should skew things statistically, wouldn't you think? The same amount are banking/lending giants (AIG and Citigroup were on the list before they contributed to the economic catastrophe of a few years ago). Think it's safe to say that all of these have an interest in the index? The last time the stuff hit the fan, the government panicked and organized $700 billion in relief. Gosh, you don't think that these same greedheads and cheats would like to see the rubes panic, do you?

Another tenth is made up of Coca-Cola, Disney and McDonald's. Come on. Does America need any of these? These are the companies that are going to determine the strength of our economy?

General Electric's on the list. They earned more than $14 billion last year. And paid no taxes in the U.S. Yep, that's right, a $3.2 billion tax break. How were your taxes this year? Corporations are people, you know. And some people are more equal than others. GE, of course, owns NBC and other media entities.

Do you trust these "people" to do the right things?

Do you think that scaring people with huge swings on the DJIA can create instability that, ultimately, might serve the very entities that cause these swings?

1 comment:

  1. Remember the stox stuff I did last time before the markets tanked?

    Did it again this time. The day the Dow dropped 400 points, I made $9.97.

    Of course, I don't have Stephens Investments helping me this time.