First and foremost in a top-down approach would be an overall evaluation of the general economy. The economy is like the tide and the various industry groups and individual companies are like boats. When the economy expands, most industry groups and companies benefit and grow. When the economy declines, most sectors and companies usually suffer. Many economists link economic expansion and contraction to the level of interest rates. Interest rates are seen as a leading indicator for the stock market as well. Below is a chart of the S&P 500 and the yield on the 10-year note over the last 30 years. Although not exact, a correlation between stock prices and interest rates can be seen. Once a scenario for the overall economy has been developed, an investor can break down the economy into its various industry groups.