Late night I sent my story about General Motors and the indexes out to a few people, including some people at Dow Jones. This morning General Motors is pulled from the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Coincidence? I’ll let you decide.
Today, Dow Jones pulls GM and Citigroup out of the DJIA. The two companies will leave June 8 to give index fund investors time to adapt to the deletion and addition of two new components, Cisco Systems and Travelers. Since GM is getting knocked off the New York Stock Exchange tomorrow, GM will be going to an over-the-counter market, representatives for Dow Jones Indexes said they will use “the best available price source” for the next week. Can you imagine, the Dow being priced off the Pink Sheets. That’s the true Wild West of Wall Street. Oh, the humanity!
Since the DJIA is created by the editors of the Wall Street Journal, there’s no requirement for them to remove GM before today.
One thing to remember is that an index isn’t a portfolio. A fund or ETF is a portfolio. It lives in the real world and costs money to maintain. An index is just a construct that measures the market.
A Dow component since 1925, GM has been a significant part of measuring the stock market through the 1920s bubble, the crash of 1929, the Depression and every up and down of the American economy since. It’s only fitting that the index itself should suffer and be brought down by this once mighty component. If the index is the market and GM has been a huge part of the market and the American economy for so long, it’s appropriate that the Dow should hold it until today to give a proper measurement of the U.S. stock market and economy. But, that’s not good for funds that follow the Dow, such as the Dow Diamonds (DIA). They will probably suffer the loss even though they would have liked to get rid of the stock months ago.
However, the S&P 500 is rules based and a company needs to have $3 billion of market capitalization to remain in this “Large-cap index.” GM hasn’t had $3 billion since December. At the close on Monday, it was still in the index.
Here’s a great video from The New York Times: The Decline of G.M..
Meanwhile back at the other automobile bankruptcy in America, it appears Tommy Lasorda has been brought in as Chrysler’s vice chairman to make the Chrysler bankruptcy work. I wonder if they will bring in Joe Torre to fix GM.