I have for several weeks been reporting at my blog on my 16-month e-mail correspondence with Academic Researcher Wade Pau. The most recent blog entry (posted this morning) was titled: Academic Researcher Wade Pfau (In Response to a Threat by the Greaney Goons to Get Him Fired From His Job for Posting Honestly on Safe Withdrawal Rates): “I Think I Should Stay Publicly Quiet for Awhile As I Really Don’t Want Anyone Sending Messages About Any Topics to Officials at My University.” Wade posted his reaction to the blog entry as a comment to it. His words are set forth below:
After months of trying to prop yourself up at my expense, and showing such utter lack of personal integrity in posting the contents of my private emails when I explicitly asked you not to, you’ve finally gotten to your big payoff: the “proof that I’ve been threatened into silence.”
Let’s back up:
-As this whole email history reminds, I was always somewhat confused about your position. I now realize you believe that market valuations can be used to better identify a “safe withdrawal rate.” But I don’t think so. The U.S. experience has been rather unique, and the relationship between past market valuations and withdrawal rates in the U.S. is not necessarily indicative about future withdrawal rates. There is even less historical data to link valuations to safe withdrawal rates than there this is to simply look at what withdrawal rates worked in the past.
-The Trinity study came about as an offshoot of research by financial planners. But financial economists had long known there is no such thing as a safe withdrawal rate from a portfolio of volatile assets, well before the Trinity study was ever written. This means that you didn’t discover anything that wasn’t known before. It is dishonest for you to pull out all these 1.5 year old quotes from me and ignore what I’ve learned and said since then.
-Your blog post today refers to a heated exchange that DRiP Guy and I had at Bogleheads in April 2011. And do you recall what the outcome of that exchange was? That is when I realized that he was right about this whole matter. And so I did not write to the Trinity authors to ask for a correction, I wrote to apologize to them for being too publicly critical of their study, but to also point out some reasons why the limited U.S. historical data may not really be sufficient to have a clear idea about the safe withdrawal rate. I told you that before.
-I’ve said the Trinity study is not helpful for new retirees. You’ve said that this doesn’t go far enough because the study needs to be corrected. But what you really mean is: you want to become rich and famous and you think this will happen if there is a formal process to republish old studies acknowledging you for “discovering” an “error” in them and providing your proposed “correction.” Since you are wrong about the “error” and the “discovery” and the “correction,” I’m not sure how successful you are going to be with this plan.
-Now about this job threat business. You’ve accused DRiP Guy of calling my employer and all sorts of other oddities, but why don’t you just provide a link so that people can judge the accusation for themselves:
This was still a period of uncertainty about what would happen in Japan after the Great Kanto earthquake the month before, and a new president had also just been installed at my university indicating a shift in power away from the group that had hired me. So you have here what looks like your big triumph… proof I’ve been silenced. However, I quickly recovered from my initial concern and realized that the whole thing was ridiculous. Anyway, there is no threat there. intercst knows how to push your buttons. That’s all. I wouldn’t lose my job even if people did complain about me, and as far as I know, no one ever did email or call my employer. My research has not been impacted by any alleged threats, and it is really insulting and disgusting all of the times you’ve suggested otherwise. And I was still peeved that you misrepresented why I emailed the Trinity authors, which is what caused the whole issue in the first place.
-You owe Mr. Bengen an apology, because it does look like the 2000 retirees are going to be okay after all with 4%. We are getting far enough along in their retirements to see this. While that doesn’t mean that 4% was safe ex ante, it does mean that he did not cause millions of failed retirements, as you’ve explicitly suggested before.
-Finally, you shouldn’t have posted my private emails. That is so unethical. And it really doesn’t help to build you up. Posting my outdated private emails will only give second thoughts to anyone in the future who might have been willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.
I’m not going to get into a back and forth with you about this. I already know your response. You will be outraged. You will suggest that I’ve turned my back on average Americans and sold out to Wall Street. You will remind us all that you’ve been a victim of death threats. You will say that we could have discussions about all of these diverse viewpoints if only some internet discussion boards would be opened to honest posting. You will say that you discovered errors in the 4% rule and that those with a vested interest in preserving 4% have terrorized you for trying to get past studies corrected. As such, you will ignore everything I wrote above. You will just spin my comment as proof that I’m really afraid to speak truthfully. You will do this all in a very long series of comments which may approach 10,000 words in total. But it’s all so tiring and implausible. Please don’t spend your day doing this. Go play with your kids. It’s time to move on.