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The Meltdown shuffle

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The ongoing Meltdown is not only causing turmoil in global finance and manufacturing, it's also transforming how money-men rank and rate market fitness.

Cases in point: There are rumblings on Wall Street about revamping the membership of the 113-year-old Dow Jones industrial average (DJIA), the closely watched barometer of American market strength. Also, Moody's Investor Service, which has rated corporate dept for 100 years, has begun a ratings list of America's most-troubled companies, a service it not-so-subtly calls the Bottom Rung.

The DJIA has been around since 1896. During its long tradition as a market bellwether, it has rejiggered its member-company list a number of times to reflect changes in the US market, most recently last February, when it kicked out Altria and Honeywell and replaced them with Bank of America and Chevron.

And now some analysts are suggesting that it's time for another change. This time, the proposed losers are members of the failing financial and automotive industries, and the proposed new kids on the block include household names in the US tech sector.

Due to the plummeting stock prices of Citigroup and General Motors, the analysts suggest that they be replaced by two more-healthy American companies. Candidates for inclusion in the 30-member DJIA group include tech giants Google, Apple, and Cisco, with Bank of America-spinoff Visa, financial-services firm Northern Trust, and the duck-loving American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus (Aflac) also named as possible contenders.

The reasoning behind the suggested change is as simple as the politics involved are complex. Both Citigroup and General Motors are not only staggering under the slings and arrows of the outrageous Meltdown, they're also textbook examples of bad management and corporate excess - not the types of companies you'd want to rely upon as predictors of US market success.

And that's what the DJIA is: a predictor. In the stock market, the question is never "What have you done for me lately?" but instead "What are you going to do for me in the future?"

And if the future of the American market is Citigroup and General Motors, we're in deep shit. We'll take Google, Apple, and Cisco as more-accurate predictors of the future than the finance and automotive sectors, thankyouverymuch.

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