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Numbers and Trends

The Shift Index


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There is no shortage of indicators for measuring today’s cyclical events, but what we often need is a way to quantify long-term trends. Our Shift Index, a composite of 25 metrics tracking a variety of concepts, is a way to measure the deep, secular forces underlying today’s cyclical change.

The Shift Index consists of three indices — the Foundation Index, Flow Index, and Impact Index — that quantify the three waves of the Big Shift. Exhibit 22 summarizes these indices and describes the specific indicators included in each.

The current Shift Index Report focuses on the U.S. economy and U.S. industries, although the detailed analysis of industry-level data was covered in a supplement named The 2009 Shift Index: Industry metrics and perspectives issued in Fall 2009. Subsequent releases will broaden the Shift Index to a global scale and will provide a diagnostic tool to assess the performance of individual companies relative to a set of firm-level metrics.

The choice of metrics above was the result of a robust selection process. Many metrics are directional proxies chosen in the absence of ideal alternatives. Some are drawn from secondary data sources and analytical methodologies; others are proprietary. Given the limited data we could find or generate to directly measure the forces underlying the Big Shift, we have not attempted to prove causality, although we have not refrained from offering hypotheses regarding potential causal links. In this regard, we hope the Shift Index will catalyze research by others to test and refine our findings.

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