The Observer 100 Index: Week One

nyo100 0 The Observer 100 Index: Week OneThis year will bring either a dazzlingly financial apocalypse (the analyst Howard Davidowitz has said we’re on “a death march”), a revival that catapults New York into a new era of giddy splendor, or an uneven and slow sludge back to normalcy. Manhattan will expire, sparkle, or crawl.

One comparatively easy way to take the city’s temperature as its health gets sorted out is to follow the stocks that define it. We assembled the Observer 100 Index to watch the city wheeze, cough, sigh, and sing.

The rule was to pick the public American stocks (which means no LVMH, which is foreign, no Condé Nast, which is private, and no Ikea, which is both) that have woven themselves into New York’s chromosomes. See them here.

The index’s companies send Manhattan its envelopes of movies, market its anti-anxiety drugs, make its k-cups of pressurized coffee grounds, put on its concerts, and lend and manhandle its money. Some are nefarious (the Altria Group is Philip Morris renamed), expensive (Coach), omnipotent (Goldman) and benign (John Wiley and Sons). Some are all those things but also inconspicuous–like Fortune Brands, which, if you’re a certain type, makes your bourbon, golf balls, and kitchen faucet.

We’ll tally the two that rose and fell the hardest over the past week. Only one presidential administration ago, the inaugural winner and loser–see the image above–both belonged to the same gargantuan conglomerate, which is as good a way to begin as any.