I will over the next few weeks be putting forward here summaries (in the case of Wade’s end of the conversation) and full texts (in the case of my end of the conversation) of my e-mail correspondence with Wade Pfau, Associate Professor of Economics at the National Graduate Institute for Economic Studies.
Our communication (and friendship) began with a comment that Wade put to the blog on December 16, 2010. Wade on that day put a post to the Bogleheads Forum that was influenced by the work that I have been doing since May 2002 on safe withdrawal rates and on the Valuation-Informed Indexing model for understanding how stock investing works.
Wade wrote: ” I just became aware of your past research in September. Since then, I’ve read archives from many Discussion Boards and websites, and I always find your writing to be very interesting and intriguing….” Wade described retirement research he had done and linked me to the research, saying “I do cite you and John Walter Russell in my paper as the earliest and strongest advocates of this approach.” He solicited my comments, noting that there was still time to make improvements to the research before submitting it to a professional journal (the version at the link was a draft version).
I responded by sending Wade an e-mail containing the following words:
I was excited to see your comments re the safe withdrawal rate issue this morning. I also was happy to see you express a desire to discuss some of these issues in more depth. I think that would be wonderful. I would like to help in any way
possible. We have done extremely important work in the Retire Early and Indexing communities over the past eight years and we need to get more professional research done and to get the word out to people whose retirements are at grave risk of going bust due to the analytical errors made in the Old School SWR studies.
I was shocked and appalled to see the words you put to the Bogleheads.org board this morning. You said: “After reading through lots of historical message board threads and personal websites, I understand that this topic can be rather controversial, though I think much of that controversy was due to a personality clash between the main supporter of using market valuations (who remained rather dogmatic and sure of the absoluteness of his predictions) and everyone else. It seems that this person is no longer mentioned by name, though I do cite him in the paper and I do think he was on to something important, even if he did not always convey his message very well.”
The person you are referring to is obviously me. The words you use to describe me and the role that I have played in The Great Safe Withdrawal Rate Debate are 100 percent inappropriate. My guess is that you are merely repeating defamatory comments that you have heard from abusive individuals posting to discussion boards. It is not appropriate for you to do that. If you have not checked the truth of a claim, it is wrong for you to repeat it as if you had. By doing so, you give the impression to others that there may be some truth to the claim.
I will provide here some links to help you come to a better understanding of the background of the Campaign of Terror that was led by Mel Lindauer (co-author of the book “The Bogleheads Guide to Investing”) and John Greaney (the author of the Old School SWR study posted at the www.RetireEarlyHomePage.com site) in an effort to shut down honest discussion of the SWR matter at all boards and blogs on the internet.
1) My bio is here:
2) This is a link to the home page of my blog. Down the left-hand side of the page, you will see 85 comments by both big-name experts and ordinary people who have become aware of my work and are appreciative of the insights they have picked up:
3) Here is a link to an article at my site titled “Investing Discussion Board Ban Honest Posting on Valuation!” It sets forth 101 comments by community members who have expressed a desire that honest posting be permitted at the Vanguard Diehards board (this is the board where the community that now meets at Bogleheads.org met before Mel Lindauer became incensed at Morningstar’s refusal to ban honest posting on the SWR topic and encouraged community members to form a new site where he could enact a ban on his own):
4) This is a link to a similar article quoting comments made by community members at an earlier stage of the debate, when the discussions were being held at the Motley Fool site:
5) This is a link to the site owned by John Greaney, the author of one of the discredited studies and one of the leaders of the Campaign of Terror against our board communities. Greaney was the first person to make death threats against community members who dared to “cross” him by posting honestly on the SWR matter. When hundreds of community members at the Vanguard Diehards board expressed a desire that honest posting be permitted, Lindauer invited Greaney and his Goon Squad to that board as part of his effort to intimidate and smear those posting honestly:
6) Here is a link to the text of an e-mail that I sent to Rep. Frank Wolf seeking his help with the problems raised by the internet sewer rats who have put forward posts in “defense” of Lindauer and Greaney:
7) Here is a link to RobCast #190, titled “Lawsuits.” This podcast discusses my plans to bring lawsuits (and to encourage lawsuits by other parties who have suffered financially) against those who have aided or defended or supported the efforts of the internet sewer rats to block the desires of the thousands of my fellow community members who have expressed a desire that honest posting be permitted on the internet on SWRs and on many other important valuation-related investment topics.
I am very excited about the possibility of working with you on constructive projects. I think you will understand after reviewing these materials why I have precisely zero willingness to get involved in any way, shape or form in efforts to employ defamation, deception, intimidation, harassment, smear campaigns and threats of physical violence to block honest posting on SWRs and other important valuation-related topics on internet discussion boards and blogs. I am confident that you agree that such sick ugliness has no place in discussions of important investment topics.
I would be grateful if, after reviewing these materials, you would let me know how you plan to proceed re this matter.