Posts filed under “Index/ETFs”

Wacky Email of the Month: Obama to Rejigger DJIA

Since its the Friday before a 3 day weekend, let me share with you the goofiest email I have received this month, from somewhere in the Netherlands. The full email (which is all over the Internet in its original language) is reproduced below, immediately following my response.

 

My response:

That is hilarious. I presume you are joking.

The editors of Dow Jones (WSJ, Barrons etc.) manage the Dow Index — not the US president, who has nothing to do with how its calculated (its based on component prices, not market caps). The Dow today consists of 30 stocks, not 12. The WSJ/Dow Jones is now owned by Rupert Murdoch — who also owns Fox News — and last i checked, has not deferred any of his editorial choices to the President. There are some people here who even think that Murdoch does not care for either President Obama or his political party. (Perhaps Google can give you some color on this).

Indeed, anyone with access to Google can figure out how the Dow is composed. Do you know the author of this piece? Has he recently suffered a severe blunt head trauma? That is the only thing I can think of that would explain what he wrote . . .

 

Reader Update:

You are two steps behind. Most of the Dow Indexes were sold to the CME who in turn has sold them to S&P.  The sale to the CME was a while ago.  The sale to S&P is recent.

 

 

Original Email:

Obama: “Truth, from fiction to reality”

Dow Jones Index to 58 points

After intensive consultation with his advisors, President Obama has decided to modify the formula used for calculating the Dow Jones Index. On January 1, 2013 the Dow Divisor will be changed to 30. The result of this change will be that the Dow Jones Index drops from the current 13,124 points to about 58 points. The underlying value of the 30 component stocks of course remains unchanged. With this modification to the formula Obama aims to make the large Dow fluctuations of recent decennia a thing of the past, and hopes that this will bring stability to the stock market. Banks, major investors and pension funds welcome this change in the Dow Jones Index formula.

To understand Obama’s proposal we must go back in Dow Jones history. The Dow was first published in 1896. The Dow was calculated by dividing the sum of the 12 component company stocks by 12:

Dow-index_1896 = (x1 + x2+ ……….+x12) / 12
In 1916 the Dow was enlarged to 20 companies; 4 were removed and 12 added:

Dow-index_1916 = (x1 + x2+ ……….+x20) / 20

The shares of a number of companies were split in 1927, and for those shares a weighting factor was introduced in the calculation. The formula is now as follows
(x1 = American Can is multiplied by 6, x2 = General Electric by 4 etc. )

Dow-index_1927 = (6.x1 + 4.x2+ ……….+x20) / 20

On 1 October 1928 the Dow was further enlarged to 30 stocks. Because everything had to be calculated by hand, the index calculation was simplified. The Dow Divisor was introduced. The index was calculated by dividing the sum of the share values by the Dow Divisor. In order to give the index an uninterrupted graph the Dow Divisor was given the value 16.67.

Dow-index_Oct_1928 = (x1 + x2+ ……….+x30) / Dow Divisor
Dow-index_Oct_1928 = (x1 + x2+ ……….+x30) / 16.67

Since then the Dow Divisor has acquired a new value every time there has been a change in the component stocks, with a consequent change in the formula used to calculate the index. This is because at the moment of change the results of two formulas based on two different share baskets must give the same result. When stocks are split the Dow Divisor is changed for the same reason.

In autumn 1928 and spring 1929 there were 8 stock splits, causing the Dow Divisor to drop to 10.47.

Dow-index_Sep_1929 = (x1 + x2+ ……….+x30) / 10.47

After the stock market crash of 1929, 18 companies were replaced in the Dow and the Dow Divisor got the value 15.1.

Table: Changes in the Dow, stock splits and Dow Divisor

The table above makes it clear that the Dow Jones formula has been changed many times and that the Dow Divisor in the period 1980-2010 has actually become a Dow Multiplier, due to the large number of stock splits in that period. Where in the past the sum of the share values was divided by the number of shares, nowadays the sum of the share values multiplied by 7.5. Dividing by 0.132 is after all the same as multiplying by 7.5. (1 / 0,132 = 7,5). This partly explains the behaviour of the Dow graph since 1980.

Figure: the Dow Jones since 1896

The proposed change on 1 January 2013 restores the formula to what it originally was: the sum of the share values divided by the number of component shares.

Dow-index_Jan_2013 = (x1 + x2+ ……….+x30) / 30

The aggregate current value of the 30 component stocks is 1736 dollars. By changing the Dow Divisor from 0,132319125 to 30 (a factor 227 larger) the index will, at current values, change from 13124 to 58 points (a factor 227 smaller).

The emotional factor in the current formula, the nervousness or euphoria of investors resulting from large fluctuations in the Dow, will be greatly reduced by this change (227 times) and so rationality should gain the upper hand in investor’s decisions.

Obama’s proposed change must still be approved by House and Senate. Both Republicans and Democrats have told Obama they support his proposal. Politicians, irrespective of political colour, desire stability in the stock markets. For the investor however it will take some getting used to: the Dow Jones at 58 points.

Category: Index/ETFs, Really, really bad calls

A Breakdown Of ETF Assets & Flows

MarketWatch – Investors win as ETF wars heat up The ETF wars are once again heating up to the benefit of everyday investors. BlackRock, the leader and pioneer of ETFs through its famous iShares products, is feeling the pressure of increased competition in the ETF space and is likely to lower their pricing. Comment Recently we pointed…Read More

Category: Index/ETFs, Investing

Top 10 Investor Errors: Mutual Fund vs ETFs

Welcome to post number six in our continuing series of most common investor errors.

Today, we are going to look at something that relates back to several of our earlier bullet points on fees and active management relative to investor structures.

Mutual Fund vs ETFs: The average mutual fund charges far more than the average ETF does. Whenever possible, I recommend substituting a low cost ETF over the more expensive Mutual fund.

The fund industry seems to have figured this out. Some have put out ultra-low cost mutual funds that typically mimic broad indexes. Others have ETF-ified their existing mutual funds, converting them into Exchange Traded Funds. Over the next decade, it would not surprise me to see nearly half of the existing mutual fund offerings morph into ETFs.

The bias against mutuals over ETFs is in the many ways that mutual funds can tag you with hidden costs, taxes, 12b-1 fees, and expenses. With ETFs, you pretty much get what you pay for.

Do note however: Even within the ETF universe, there are a wide range of internal fees. These expenses come off of the top of your investment performance, so it pays to watch them closely.

Reducing your costs is a surefire way to improve long term results. Consider what ETFs you can substitute instead of mutual funds.

 

 

Previously:
Top 10 Investor Errors
1. Excess Fees
2. Reaching for Yield
3. You Are Your Own Worst Enemy
4. Asset Allocation vs Stock Picking
5. Passive vs Active Management

Read More

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Index/ETFs, Investing

Case-Shiller Home Price Indices (November 2011)

Through November 2011, the S&P/Case-Shiller1 Home Price Indices declined 1.3`% for both the 10- and 20-City Composites in November over October. For a second consecutive month, 19 of the 20 cities covered by the indices also saw home prices decrease.

For year over year data, the 10- and 20-City Composites posted losses of -3.6% and -3.7% versus November 2010. These are worse than the -3.2% and -3.4% respective rates reported for October.

Click to enlarge:

More charts after the jump

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Category: Index/ETFs, Real Estate

Index Funds Don’t Pick Themselves!

I was sitting on Friday’s hilarious Dilbert, expecting to post it Saturday, but so many friends and colleagues mailed it in to me, I was compelled to post it today: >

Category: Index/ETFs, Investing

2011 Dow Dogs & Daredevils

In this week’s Barrons, Mike Santoli takes a closer look at the 30 individual Dow Industrial stocks. A few observations worth noting: The winners were stable, defensive companies, while the losers were financials and the more cyclically sensitive names.  The 2011 winners marked their second consecutive successful year: McDonald’s (MCD), Home Depot (HD) and Kraft…Read More

Category: Index/ETFs, Investing

Barron’s: Buy Emerging Markets

Where the Buys Are Emerging markets are cheaper than their developed counterparts with far more growth. Earnings for the MSCI Emerging Markets index are expected to grow at 15% over the long term, versus 12% for MSCI World index. Recent Change P/E** 2011** Market Index Level YTD 1-Yr 3-Yr* 2011 2012 Price/Book Brazil Bovespa 52,482.82…Read More

Category: Index/ETFs, Investing, Markets

Trannie Swan Dive to Take Down Crude Oil

The Dow Transportation Index was down almost 4 percent Tuesday and if there is any silver lining  in the current market turmoil is that Trannies usually lead crude down, which will drop gas prices.  The chart below shows the 12.2 percent swan dive in the Dow Transports since July 7th with crude oil barely moving. …Read More

Category: Index/ETFs, Technical Analysis

The New Nasdaq

Nasdaq OMX is rebalancing the Nasdaq-100 index (QQQs), which currently has one company — Apple (AAPL) as more than 20% of the index. The WSJ notes “Apple’s market capitalization is roughly $300 billion, twice that of Google. But its weighting in the index was five times that of Google. After the rebalancing, Google’s share of…Read More

Category: Index/ETFs

Dow Jones by the Numbers

I normally NEVER care about PR releases — they are rarely on topic, and mostly worthless — but this run of Dow Jones data was surprisingly relevant to the end of Q1: Dow Jones Industrial Average Long term data · Highest intraday level (12419.71 at 12:08:49 on 4.1.11) since June 6, 2008. · Down 1787.81…Read More

Category: Index/ETFs, Investing, Markets