"Retirees Now Frequently Base Their Retirement Decisions on the Portfolio Success Rates Found in Research Such as the Trinity Study.... This Is Not the Information They Need for Making Their Withdrawal Rate Decisions."
"Big Moves Out of Stocks Should Not Be Done at All. But Strategic Asset Allocation Can Be Done At Very Rare Times, Maybe Six Times in an Investor’s Lifetime, Three Times When the Market Is Stupidly High and Three Times When Stupidly Low."
"There Is An Extensive Literature About the Predictability of Long-Term Stock Returns. There Is an Extensive Literature About Short-Term Market Timing. My Question Is About Long-Term Market Timing. The Literature Seems Slim."
"For Years, the Investment Industry Has Tried to Scare Clients Into Staying Fully Invested in the Stock Market at All Times, No Matter How High Stocks Go. It's Hooey. They're Leaving Out More Than Half the Story."
"There Are Time-Periods Where Stocks Are a Terrible Addition to That Portfolio. Yet Inexplicably, We As Planners STILL tend to Suggest That It Is 'Risky' to Not Own Stocks When in Reality the Only Risk Is to Our Business."
"There Is a Growing Behavioral Economics Movement, But It So Far Has Had Limited Impact. Economists Are Not Fond of the Softness and Imprecision of Psychology. These Notions Are Considered Vaguely Unprofessional and Flaky."
"I Was Hooked on the Idea of [Passive] Index Indexing, But Something Inside Made Me Wonder "Too Good to Be True?" and "What's the Downside?" I Happened on to Your Site and Valuation-Informed Indexing Seems to Make Sense."
"Rob's Da Man! Never in the History of the Diehards Forum Has One Poster, Always Making Civil and Well Thought-Out Posts, Managed to Irritate So Many Without Anyone Being Able to Articulate a Good Reason As to Why."
"Rob Bennett: Some People Disagree With Him, and He Rubs a Lot of People the Wrong Way. But He Has Interesting Ideas About Valuation-Informed Indexing, and He Delves Into a Lot of What Makes a Successful Investing Strategy."
"The Return Predictor Is Based upon the Principle that Over the Long Term, Stock Market Prices Will Reflect the Ten-Years Earnings Growth of the Underlying Companies. Prices Return to a Common Growth Pattern."
"You Go About It in a Manner that is Catastrophically Unproductive by Adding Missionary Zeal that Inflates Your Importance and Demeans Others. The Whole Idea That There is a New School of Safe Withdrawal Rates Reeks of Personal Aggrandizement."
“What Warren Buffett Did Was Essentially Quite Close to What Rob Bennett Has Written. Buffett Has in Fact Been Cleverly Incorporating Long-Term Market Timing Based on Valuation of the Market in His Allocation of Money to Stocks.”
"You've Got to Say One Thing for Rob. He Has NEVER Lowered Himself to Ad Hominen Attacks -- Subliminal or Otherwise -- on Any Other Person on This Board. Not Once. Ever. At Least Give Him Credit for That."
"Mr. Bennett, You Are Spot on About Integrating Some Type of Valuation Filter to One's Stock Allocation. Astute Investors Have Incorporated Some Type of 'Valuation Timing' Into Their Investment Decisions Since the Beginning of Time."
"There Is Nothing More Doubtful of Success Than a New System. The Initiator Has the Enmity of All Who Profit By Preservation of the Old Institution and Merely Lukewarm Defenders in Those Who Gain By the New One."
"Difficult Subjects Can Be Explained to the Most Slow-Witted Man If He Has Not Formed Any Idea of Them. But the Simplest Thing Cannot Be Made Clear to the Most Intelligent Man If He Believes He Knows Already What Is Laid Before Him."
"I Certainly Have Seen the Academic Profession Squelching Unfashionable ideas and Have Often Been on the Wrong Side of It. Kuhn Shows How Most Pathbreaking Scientific Ideas Are Rejected at First, Usually for Decades.”
"Rob Bennett Was an Early Pioneer in 3rd Generation Modeling by Advocating (Through Various Online Forums) that Withdrawal Rates Must Be Adjusted for Market Valuations Consistent with Research by Campbell and Shiller."
"I Am Fascinated by the Growing Body of Research that Revolves Around the P/E10 Ratio by Robert Shiller, Doug Short, Wade Pfau, Michael Kitces, John Hussman, Crestmont Research, Jim Otar, Mike Philbrick, Adam Butler & Rob Bennett."
"Rob Is an Enigma in the Personal Finance World. He Has Interesting Theories on Investing Based on Market Valuations. But He Weaves a Tale Which Makes the Stories of Alexander Litvinenko & Gareth Williams Seem Tame by Comparison."
"I Have Read Everything I Can About Valuation-Informed Indexing. Buy-and-Hold Is Extremely Problematic. I Respect the Passion, Hard Work and Research That You Have Put Into This Very Important Issue. Your Work Has Huge Value."
"The Amount of Return You Can Expect From a Diversified Equity Portfolio Is Inversely Correlated to the Market Valuation at the Start of the Holding Period. It Is One of the Most Robust Statistical Relationships in Modern Finance."
"I've Had Similar Experiences. I Know of Two Young Professors Who Wanted to Do Research on Fundamental Index and Reported to Me That Their Colleagues Advised Them That This Line of Research Could Derail Their Career Prospects."
"As with Drug Studies Funded by Drug Companies, It Would Be Churlish to Suppose that the Chicago School of Business Was in the Bag. But It Would Also Be Idealistic to Assume That There Was No Funding Bias at All."
"This Sort of Intimidation Is Not Acceptable. The Cigarette and Pharmaceutical Industries Found Research Supporting Their Products By Funding It. But That Was Big Money Supporting Outcomes, Not Dissuading Others."
"The Situation [Referring to the Intimidation Tactics Used to Silence Academic Researcher Wade Pfau's Reporting of the Dangers of Buy-and-Hold Investing Strategies] Seems Well Below Any Professional and Academic Acceptable Standards."
"It Is Obvious that Rob, in Attempting to Identify New Safe Withdrawal Rate Strategies...Is Goring Your Ox. If Rob Improves on [the] Safe Withdrawal Rate Methodology, the Implication Is Clear: You Are All, Metaphorically, Out of Business."
"Naturally, I Am Finding That Valuation-Informed Indexing Can Allow You to Reach a Wealth Target With a Lower Saving Rate and to Use a Higher Withdrawal Rate in Retirement Than You Could With a Fixed Allocation."
"A Careful Examination of Past Returns Can Establish Some Probabilities About the Prospective Parameters of Return, Offering Intelligent Investors a Basis for Rational Expectations About Future Returns."
"How Can It Be That One-Year Returns Are So Apparantly Random and Yet Ten-Year Returns Are Mostly Forecastable? In Looking at One-Year Returns, One Sees a Lot of Noise. But Over Longer Time Intervals the Noise Effectively Averages Out and Is Less Important."
"The Notion That Rich Valuations Will Not Be Followed By Sub-Par Long-Term Returns Is a Speculative Idea That Runs Counter to All Historical Evidence. It Is an Iron Law of Finance That Valuations Drive Long-Term Returns."
"It's January and the Temperature Is Below Freezing. If You Asked Me Whether It Will be Warmer or Cooler Next Tuesday, I Would Be Unable to Say. However, If You Asked Me What Temperature to Expect on April 9, I Could Predict "Warmer Than Today" and Almost Surely Be Right."
"If the Response Is "Who Knew?", It Won't Be Much Comfort for Retirees in the Employment Line at Wal-Mart. This is Especially True Since a Rational Understanding of History and the Drivers of Longer-Term Stock Returns Can Help Retirees To Avoid That Surprise."
"New of the Demise of the Random Walk Has Only Very Slowly Spread, In Part Because Its Overthrow Came as a Shock. If the Random Walk Hypothesis Were Correct, the Most Likely Return Would Be the Historic Average Return. The Evidence, However, Is Strongly Against This."
"I Don't Care If You Do or Don't Believe That the Market Will Behave Similarly in the Future As It Has in the Past. Either Way, This [The Stock-Return Predictor] Is an Excellent Way to Understand What the Market Has Done In the Past."
"It Really Is a Shame and Indefensible That So Many Feel the Need to Jump Into It With No Interest of Posting on the Topic But Just to Disrupt. Are You That Insecure? Some on the Forum Have an Interest in This Topic. If You Don't, Stay Out!"
"Irrational Behavior Does Follow Patterns. But How Many Experts in Behavioral Finance Believe That Such Knowledge Can Be Used to Predict Markets? Basically, None. Your Model Cannot Attain the Level of Predictive Value You Claim."
"The Safe Withdrawal Rate Studies Are Based on History. This [The Retirement Risk Evaluator] Shows, Based on the Same History, What the Probabilities Are for the Future at Various Starting Points. If the First Has Value, Then Surely This Does Too."
"There Are Hundreds of People Who Contributed to This. This Calculator [The Stock-Return Predictor] Demonstrates in a Compelling Way the Power of This New Internet Discussion-Board Communications Medium."
"A P/E10 of'26' Is Bad. Now Look at the 30-Year Return Predicted by the Calculator -- 5.4 Percent Real. That's Not Bad. There Are All Sorts of Strategic Implications That Follow From Understanding That Stocks Provide Different Sorts of Returns Over Different Sorts of Time-Periods."
"I Would Never Invest in Anything Without Having Any Idea What the Expected Return Is. For Instance, I Would Not Walk Into a Bank And Say "I'll Take One Certificate of Deposit, Please" WIthout Asking What Rate They Are Offering."
"I've Seen Things Said on Investing Boards That I Have Never Heard Said in Discussions of Any Non-Investing Topic. The Question of Whether Valuations Affect Long-Term Returns Is a Topic That Causes People More Emotional Angst Than Does Abortion or Impeachment Proceedings or the War in Iraq."
"It's Not Possible For Those Who Have Come to Believe That Stocks Are Always Best to Accept that Valuations Matter. The Two Beliefs Are Mutually Exclusive. If Valuations Matter, There Is Obviously Some Valuation Level At Which Stocks Are Not Best. The Two Paradigms Cannot Be Reconciled."
"Dear Rob -- 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."
"I Think Rob Bennett Did Provide An Important Contribution in Terms of Describing a Way for P/E10 to Guide Asset Allocation for Long-Term Conservative Investors. I Also Think He Was Right on the Issue of Safe Withdrawal Rates."
"Because the Precise Timing of This Mean Reversion Is Not Known in Advance, Expecting the Result to Happen in the Short-Term Will Not Be Possible. But Long-Term Investors Who Can Be Patient Can Wait for This Mean Reversion and Will Eventually Come Out Ahead."
"Your Work Is at Odds with the Ethos of the Board -- Here the Theme is John Bogle's Philosophy, Which Eschews Market Timing. This Board Came Into Existence to ESCAPE One Individual, the Very Individual With Whom You Have Openly Aligned Yourself."
"Why Is It Such an Odious Violation of the Tenets of Bogleheadism to Explore Whether Someone Who Has Enough Patience Might Be Able to Benefit from the Transitory Nature of Speculative Returns (the Idea That the P/E Ratio Eventually Ends Up Where It Started)?"
"Let Me Explain Why I Posted About This Here. Valuation-Informed Indexing Has Had Critics for Years. But Until Norbert Did It In 2008, Nobody Seemed to Have Provided a Serious Investigation of It. I Couldn't Understand Why. That Bothered Me."
"If You Really Don't Like Market Timing in Any and All Forms, You May Not See Any Point in an Empirical Investigation. You View Me as One of a Long Line of Hucksters Trying to Sell You Some Snake Oil. I Don't Want to Be Such a Person."
"Having a Completely Ineleastic Demand for Equities Is a Bit Bonkers. No One Acts That Way with Life's Other Important Commodities. Campbell Advocates a Linear Valuations-Based Strategy so That You Wouldn't Be Making Big Changes. This Would Be Like Rebalancing But More Flexible."
"The Whole Idea of Valuation-Informed Indexing Belongs to You. Do You Mind if I call the Paper 'Valuation-Informed Indexing'? I Would Give You Credit. I Have Been Toying With the Idea of Sending the Paper to the Journal of Finance, Which Is the Most Prestigious Journal in Academic Finance."
"I Definitely Need to Cite You as the Founder of Valuation-Informed Indexing, As I Have Not Found Anyone Else Who Can Lay Claim to That. Shiller Pointed Out the Predictive Power of P/E10 But Never Discussed How to Incorporate It Into Asset Allocation, As Far As I Know."
"I Tested a Wide Variety of Assumptions About Asset Allocation, Valuation-Based Decision Rules, Whether the Period Is 10, 20, 30 or 40 Years, and Lump-Sum vs. Dollar-Cost Averaging To Show That the Results Are Quite Robust to Changes In Any of These Assumptions."
"I Wrote Up the Programs to Test Your Valuation-Informed Indexing Strategies Against Buy-and-Hold and I Am Quite Excited. You Say in the RobCast That VII Should Beat Buy-and-Hold About 90 Percent of the Time. I Am Getting Results That Support This."
"Never Underestimate the Power of a Dominant Academic Idea to Choke Off Competing Ideas, and Never Underestimate the Unwillingness of Academics to Change Their Views in the Face of Evidence. They Have Decades of Their Research and Academic Standing to Defend."
"Since They Did Not Diagnose the Disease, There Is Little Popular Confidence That They Know the Cure. What If Economics Is, Actually, At the Same Level as Medicine Was When Doctors Still Believed in the Application of Leeches?"
"I Love the Humans Dearly (the Title of the Book I Am Writing Is Investing for Humans: How to Get What Works on Paper to Work in Real Life) But They Can Be a Trial at Times. Hey! Helping the Humans Learn What It Takes to Invest Effectively Is Not All That Different From Being Married!
"Wow, I Did Not Realize You Had Achieved This Much Success and Had Many Devoted Believers/Followers. That’s Great, Then Ignore the Opposition. It Is Great to Have Opposition: That Means You Are Doing Something Right."
"I Do NOT Believe I Know It All. I Believe That Shiller Discovered Something Very Important and It Appalls Me That More People Are Not Exploring the Implications of His Findings. My Aim Is To Launch a National Debate."
"I LOVE Everything About Buy-and-Hold Other Than the Failure to Encourage Investors to Take Price Into Consideration When Setting Their Stock Allocations. That's a Mistake That Was Made Because Shiller’s Research Was Not Available at the Time The Strategy Was Being Developed."
"Valuation-Informed Indexing Sounds Like a Real Thing. If It Is and I Can Thoroughly Understand It, Then It Will End Up In My Classrooms and in My Students' Minds (Of Course, With References to You and Wade)."
"As a Fan of Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, I Know That Progress Can Be Frustratingly Slow and What Is Typically Needed Is Either a Crisis or the Ascent of a New Generation of Scientists Who Did Not Build Their Careers on the Old Models and Theories."
"We Trace the Deeper Roots [of the Financial Crisis] to the Economics' Profession's Insistence on Constructing Models That, By Design, Disregard the Key Elements Driving Outcomes in Real World Markets."
"Rob Gets Himself So Worked Up Over What Someone Else Is Doing With Their Own Money and Not Bothering Rob in the Least. As Long As They Aren't Knocking on Your Basement Door, What Do You Care? They Are Happy and Content. Leave Well Enough Alone and Focus on Your Own Account."
"I've Been on Forum Since the BBS Days and I Think Rob is Special. He Could Be an Internet Meme If He Put Some Effort Into It. Someday, He Will Realize That the Only Thing He's Good At Is Being an Epic Loser. He Just Needs to Embrace That Idea and Run With It. Watch Out, LOLCats, Here Comes Pathetic Guy!"
"You Guys [the Greaney Goons] Are the Same Jokers Who Have Done This Before, Sparring with Rob Over Nonsensical Issues On This Site and Others, Leveling Personal Attacks, and You Don't Even Use Real Names! Rob Is Entitled to His Opinion, But the Fact That You Challenge Every Jot and Tittle of What He Says Makes It Clear You Have An Unholy Agenda. Please Take It Elsehwere."
"Rob, Take This As Friendly Advice. You're a Smart and Articulate Guy and You Could Be Making Valuable Contributions to This Discussion. I've Dealt with the Mentally Ill Before and I've Found That They Sometimes Can Be Reasonable If Gently Redirected."
"I’m a Numbers Guy. And I Believe I Understand Rob’s Thesis, that Future Returns, Over the Next Decade, Have a Tight Inverse Correlation to the PE10 for the Starting Point. Remember, Correlation Doesn’t Need to be 100%, Only That There’s a Bell Curve of Potential Outcomes that Shift Meaningfully Based on the Input."
"I Have had Academic Researchers Tell Me That They Dream of the Day When They Will be Able to do Honest Research Once Again. I Have had Investment Advisors Tell me That They Dream of the Day When They Will be Able to Give Honest Investing Advice Again."
"Let’s Call a Spade a Spade, Shall We? Wade Pfau Stole Your Research and Put His Name on it, Throwing You Just a Tiny Crumb of Acknowledgement to Ward Off a Lawsuit. He’s Profiting Handsomely By His Theft, Leading a Charmed Life, Widely Published, Widely Respected. While Rob Bennett Continues to Toil in Total Obscurity. It’s So Incredibly Unfair, I Think If It Happened to Me, It Could Actually Drive Me Insane."
Rob Bennett to Dallas Morning News Columnist Scott Burns: “Perhaps I Am One of the Unfortunate Humans Who Cannot See His Own Flaws Even When They Are Pointed Out to Him…. I Feel That I Can Say That We Are Friends Again.”
I reported yesterday on an e-mail sent to me by Dallas Morning News Columnist Scott Burns on the Wade Pfau matter. Set forth below is the text of my response, sent on October 9, 2012.
Thanks much for your response. It is super to be able to hear your voice up close and personal once again.
I of course agree with much of what you say, as I have ALWAYS agreed with much of what you say. I believe I have told you before how, when I was collecting materials to use to put together my retirement plan, I created an entire binder to hold my favorite Scott Burns columns. I certainly consider myself a big fan of you and your work product. I hope that always comes through in my communications with you.
I especially like your statement that: “We’re all struggling to find real information and less noise, but no one is yet in possession of Diogene’s lantern.” That’s a perfect statement in every way. I certainly do not say that I am the sole possessor of Truth. I would disassociate myself in every possible way from anyone who said such a thing. I have an article at my site titled “The Case Against Valuation-Informed Indexing.” ( http://www.passionsaving.com/valuation-informed-indexing-case.html ) The entire purpose of such an article is to signal to my readers that I do NOT view myself as in possession of all Truth and that I think that anyone who comes to believe that I am is making a terrible mistake.
I DO believe that I have raised many important questions and at least put forward a sincere effort at setting forth some tentative answers to those questions. I DO believe that investing is a highly emotional endeavor and that just about everyone’s views of how stock investing works are influenced by whether we are in a bull market or a bear market at the moment the assessment is made. I DO believe that the Buy-and-Holders made huge contributions and advanced the ball in highly significant ways. I DO believe that the Buy-and-Holders are smart and good and hard-working people who are entitled to our gratitude and respect and admiration. I DO believe that many Buy-and-Holders become hyper-defensive when their core beliefs are challenged and that they have created huge problems in this field with their wildly inappropriate behavior.
I DO believe that I have pitted myself against ignorance. I am a reporter. That’s the job. It is my aim to dispel ignorance with every word I write. I obviously do not succeed in every case. But that is always the aim. I hope that I balance my desire to dispel ignorance with an appreciation of the need to evidence warmth and balance and charity. I get the strong sense that you don’t believe that I measure up in that department. I have spent much time questioning myself as a result of your
numerous expressions of that belief. I cannot see where I have failed in that department. Perhaps I am one of the unfortunate humans who cannot see his own flaws even when they are pointed out to him. All I can say is that I sincerely do not see it your way at this time. I will continue trying to look inward and perhaps some day I will come along to your view of my behavior.
Anyway, it makes me happy that you cared enough to send me a response. I feel that I can say that we are friends again.
Please do not hesitate to ask me if there is ever anything I can do to help you out in any way or if there is ever a time when there is some question that you think I might be able to help you with. If my work has the value that I believe it has, it’s because of all that I learned from you and many others with whom you associate. I never forget those who have helped me learn. That’s a big deal to me. One of the things that my mother stressed to me over and over again is that you can lose just about anything you acquire in this life but that you never lose something you have learned. I am grateful for the many ways in which you have helped me throughout the years.
Please keep doing what you do. You have my warmest wishes for your happiness and success and feelings of inner peace. Don’t let the bad guys get you down, man.