SOME time soon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average seems likely to break through the 20,000 barrier, an event that will be greeted with banner headlines and a sign that capitalism is flourishing again. In fact, the Dow is a flawed measure, which uses the odd approach of weighting its component companies by share price. The biggest stock in the Dow is Goldman Sachs and despite its prominence on the campaign trail (and among Donald Trump’s new team), it is hardly the most important company in America; its weight depends on its near-$240 share price. Like other financial shares, it has shot up in the wake of Mr Trump’s election; boosted both by hopes of bank deregulation and of potentially higher interest rates, which tend to boost bank profits. William Wright of New Financial estimates that Goldman staff’s wealth, in the form of options and shares, has risen by $2.3bn since the polls; not exactly a “revolt against the elite”.
The Dow is up 9% since November 7th, well ahead of the more broadly-based S&P 500’s 6.6% gain. The S&P uses a weighting by market value—its…Continue reading