In Dow Shakeup, the Financial Sector Gains at Other Sectors' Expense


Yesterday, the committee in charge of selecting the stocks on the Dow Jones Industrial Average announced the biggest shakeup in nearly a decade. While three stocks were sent packing, three new editions were formally invited to the club.

Who's In

Who's Out

Goldman Sachs

Bank of America





Source: The Wall Street Journal.

According to the official press release, the changes "were prompted by the low stock price of the three companies slated for removal and the Index Committee's desire to diversify the sector and industry group representation of the index."

The biggest impact of the shakeup is on the composition of sectors represented by the blue-chip index. As of now, the technology sector is the most heavily weighted sector, accounting for 18.65% of the daily price changes. After the move, which is set to occur on September 20, it will be replaced by the financial sector, which will account for 23.85% of the index.

Even a cursory glance at the graphs above shows that virtually every sector will cede territory to their collective financial counterpart. At today's prices, the service sector will decline from 15.58% down to 13.12% and the namesake industrial goods sector will fall from 16.42% to 13.83%.

The one exception to this is the consumer goods sector, which is being boosted by the inclusion of Nike in the place of Alcoa.

The rise of the financial sector relative to its peers should come as no surprise. In the first case, two out of the three companies being added to the index -- Visa and Goldman Sachs -- are financial companies.

And in the second case, the financial sector continues to gain prominence in the wider world. "Fifty years ago, 4% of Harvard's undergraduate class went into finance," my colleague Morgan Housel wrote last year. "Today it's about a quarter. At Princeton's School of Engineering, financial engineering is the most popular undergraduate major. "

Given the turmoil caused by firms like Goldman Sachs, you'd be excused for concluding that this is an accurate but unfortunate reflection of the direction of the American economy. As Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, remarked in the middle of 2011, "We would be better off if we downsized the whole financial sector by about 80%."

Munger may be onto something. But in the meantime, investors will just have to live with another reminder of the financial sector's growing role in society.

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John Maxfield owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool recommends Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Nike, and Visa. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Nike, and Visa. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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