Set forth below is the text of an e-mail that I sent to Carl Richard, author of the Behavior Gap blog, on November 13, 2009. The e-mail was sent in reply to an e-mail that Carl sent me earlier the same day (which was described in an earlier blog entry). I will describe Carl’s response in a forthcoming blog entry.
Thanks for your response.
I am particularly grateful for your comment that ” I have read everything I can about Valuation-Informed Indexing, and I agree with you that buy & hold passive investing is extremely problematic… I value and respect the passion, hard work and research that you have put into this very important issue…,I think what you are doing has huge value.” I would like to post this comment (attributed to you) at the “People Are Talking” feature at my site (it appears as a widget on the left-hand side of the home page of the “A Rich Life” blog). Please let me know if you object.
I love your blog. I am certain that I have said that in the comments that I have posted. And you are saying that you respect my work as well. So what the heck is the problem here?
I certainly don’t expect you to agree with all that I say. And I am certain that you feel the same coming at it from the other direction. We both want your blog to achieve great things. We both want lots of people expressing lots of different viewpoints. So there shouldn’t be any friction at all. Yet there is some sort of issue. It’s strange, no?
I believe that you have identified important insights about what you refer to as “the Behavior Gap.” I believe that I have separately identified important insights re the problem with the Buy-and-Hold model. I believe that there is an intersection between the two. I believe that belief in Buy-and-Hold has CAUSED some (not all) of the problems that you refer to as the Behavior Gap. Pointing out the areas where that is so is what I add to the discussion at your blog. That’s my contribution.
I can try to “tone it down in the interests of blog community harmony. That’s a reasonable thing to ask. But the underlying issue is that there are some who will be upset any time I even suggest that Buy-and-Hold is dangerous. And that’s what I believe, Carl. I am NOT posting the same comment over and over again at your blog. I have posted 42 different comments, all on-topic and all aimed at being helpful but, yes, all coming from that same perspective that informs me that Buy-and-Hold is dangerous, that Buy-and-Hold causes the emotional state that generates much of the Behavior Gap.
I will make an effort to comment less frequently. But I believe that the sore point is going to remain for some readers of your blog. I think the issue here ultimately needs to be addressed and resolved. I believe that we must make the shift to a new model if our economic and political systems are to survive and that the shift is going to cause some short-term upset while also bringing on some amazing long-term benefits.
I think that the only reason why my comments stick out so much is that there are not enough people today making comments along these lines. EVERY poster evidences the same fundamental belief system with every comment posted, not just me. With me, people notice because the belief system is a less frequently voiced one. I think that it IS the content that is causing the friction, not any desire on my part to shove anything down anyone’s throat (are those who have put forward 40 comments rooted in a belief in Buy-and-Hold trying to shove Buy-and-Hold down our throats?).
I certainly do not want you to agree with me across the board. I don’t even think that would be healthy. But I think it would be helpful if you took some time to reflect on the extent to which the widespread belief in Buy-and-Hold might be a contributing factor to many of the Behavior Gap topics you explore. My intent going back to the first comment was to highlight cases in which I think that might be the case. My goal is not to start a fight. My goal is to advance knowledge of the questions you explore at your blog. I am grateful for the work you do. I cannot apologize for trying to add to its impact and value.