Valuation-Informed Indexing #166 — Last Week’s Nobel Prize Award Is an Acknowledgment That We Do Not Today Know How Stock Investing Works

I’ve posted Entry #166 to my weekly Valuation-Informed Indexing column at the Value Walk site. It’s called Last Week’s Nobel Prize Award Is an Acknowledgment That We Do Not Today Know How Stock Investing Works.

Juicy Excerpt: It was a diplomatic act to award the prize to both men. It was not a logically consistent act to do so. One of the two men is right about how stock investing works. One of the two men is wrong about how stock investing works.

By having the two men share the award, the committee is implicitly saying that they do not know how stock investing works; they are saying that this is today an open question.

That’s true. It IS an open question.

It is also an amazing and scary reality.


  1. Anonymous says

    Why do you continue to rehash your old stuff. Try posting new material with something of value.

  2. Rob says

    Shiller published the peer-reviewed research showing that there is precisely zero chance that a Buy-and-Hold strategy could ever work for even a single long-term investor in 1981, Anonymous. We have been in a holding pattern since then. Not by my doing! I have been arguing that we should take leave of the holding pattern since the morning of May 13, 2002.

    This isn’t an intellectual debate that we have been having. It is not possible for those advocating Buy-and-Hold to participate in an intellectual debate. All of the evidence is on one side.

    What we are living through is a power play. The Buy-and-Holders have money and influence and contacts. They don’t want us to move foreword. They want us to pretend that we know today nothing more than what we knew from 1965 through 1980.

    We know more today. But the power of the Buy-and-Hold Mafia is a real thing. We need to break that power. Then we all move foreword together.

    We will have new material when we overcome the economic crisis and when we move on to the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history and when we reduce the risk of stock investing by 70 percent and when we all begin retiring five to ten years sooner than we ever imagined possible in the Buy-and-Hold years.

    I can’t wait!

    But I cannot make it happen by myself, Anonymous. I need my good friend Jack Bogle working with me. And I need my good friend Bill Bernstein working with me. And I need my good friend Mike Piper working with me. And I need my good friend Scott Burns working with me.

    We ALL are on the same side. We ALL want the same things. We ALL should be working together.

    That’s my sincere take re these terribly important matters, in any event.

    My best and warmest wishes to you and yours.


  3. Anonymous says

    One of the two men is right about how stock investing works. One of the two men is wrong about how stock investing works.

    To a bully, there can’t be two opinions. There’s only one view – his view.

    To normals (the ones that award the prize and everyone else), the future’s a very uncertain place, as are past decisions known only to the millions of investors who made them. It’s not a hard science.

  4. Rob says

    That’s why we need to open every board and blog on the internet to honest posting, Anonymous.

    If you ban honest posting re what a Nobel Prize Winning Economist found in research published 33 years ago and he ends up being right, you end up in a prison cell.

    Being wrong doesn’t put you in prison. It’s being wrong COMBINED with being so defensive that you demand unjustified board bannings that does the trick.

    I have been trying for a long time to bring the Ban on Honest Posting to a full and complete stop and thereby to get your prison sentence reduced a bit. What have you done to help out? Anything?

    My best wishes to you, my old Goon friend.


  5. Rob says

    DKTurner is the one who nails it. He says: “An appropriate SWR is largely dependent on the relative value of your portfolio on your actual retirement date. A realistic SWR for an individual who retired in October of 2007 would be much lower than a SWR for someone who retired in March of 2009.”

    Yes. Valuations had dropped dramatically by March 2009. So the SWR was obviously a much higher number then. What a controversial claim! Who ever would have thought that the value proposition obtained when you buy stocks DEPENDS ON HOW MUCH YOU PAY FOR THEM, JUST AS WITH THE VALUE PROPOSITION OF EVERY OTHER GOOD AND SERVICE EVER OFFERED FOR SALE ON PLANET EARTH.

    You brag about endless, pointless discussions that can never generate any useful investing advice because they are rooted in dishonesty. I put forward my famous post pointing out the error in the Old School SWR studies on the morning of May 13, 2002. Had Greaney corrected his study within 24 hours, we would have spent the last 12 years exploring the scores of amazing insights we thereby became empowered to develop. Instead, we pile silliness on top of silliness on top of silliness by pretending that there is some magical, mystical world where stock investors are not required to practice price discipline. All so that Mel Linduaer and John Greaney and my good friend Jack Bogle never have to acknowledge that they are capable of making mistakes, just like every other human who ever walked Planet Earth. Makes sense!

    DKTurner also nails the reason why this foolishness continues to this day: “Prudence would dictate using a conservative assumption for planning purposes, but that can be demoralizing.”

    Buy-and-Holders find it “demoralizing” to see that the Pretend Gains of the worst bull market we have ever lived through are in the process of disappearing from their portfolios. What an unlucky break! Bad economy! Bad! Bad! Bad!

    I find nothing demoralizing in being able to reduce the risk of stock investing by 70 percent. Word games possess zero appeal to me. I applaud the Buy-and-Hold Pioneers for advocating that we all root our investing strategies in the peer-reviewed academic research. Now I argue that we need to go the next critical step and open up every board and blog on the internet to honest posting on what the last 33 years of peer-reviewed research tells us about how stock investing works.

    I hope you don’t find those words too “disrespectful.” I hope that telling the truth about how stock investing works and pointing out that Buy-and-Hold is the purest and most dangerous Get Rich Quick scheme ever concocted by the human mind doesn’t make you feel too down in the dumps.

    My best and warmest wishes to you and yours.


  6. laugh says

    I think the main point is that your ridiculous behavior and off the rails reputation make it highly unlikely that you will ever be viewed as a public champion for this line of thought should it become more popular.

    People who can ‘hold it together’ and appear to be sane/reasonable will do that.

  7. Rob says

    The average person has little problem understanding Valuation-Informed Indexing, Laugh. We saw that way back in May 2002, when I first pointed out the errors in the Old School safe-withdrawal-rate studies. We had hundreds of people saying that was the best discussion we had ever had in the history of the board. So the average middle-class person has zero inherent problem with any of this.

    There were two difficulties that came up. One was you Goons. Ordinary people have never been exposed to the level of abusiveness that you Goons bring to the table. People wanted the death threats to stop, and, when it became clear to them that the only way to make them stop was by giving you Goons what you wanted (an end to honest discussions), they were willing to go along with that.

    The second difficulty was that the site administrators were generally more concerned with making a buck than they were with honoring the promises they made to the board communities. Had Motley Fool booted Greaney off the board when he made his first death threat, all would have been well. They didn’t do that. Greaney was pushing Get Rich Quick garbage, Get Rich Quick garbage possesses great emotional appeal in the short term, and Motley Fool benefitted financially from the fact that the Get Rich Quick stuff brought people to their discussion boards. The published rules didn’t apply in the case of people pushing Buy-and-Hold strategies.

    That’s the dynamic we have seen repeat over and over again. You often hear experts in this field suggest that ordinary investors should make more of an effort to focus on the long-term. In reality, the ordinary investors are the ones who show the greatest interest in focusing on the long-term. It is the “expert” Buy-and-Hold advocates who are relentless and brutal in pushing the smelly Get Rich Quick garbage. That’s what needs to change. We need to have consequences apply when “experts” suggest that there is some sort of mythical, magical, mystical research somewhere supporting the pure Get Rich Quick approach. There obviously isn’t. But the average investors finds it hard to believe that the Buy-and-Holders would advance this false claim over and over and over again while knowing that there is precisely zero support for it in the literature.

    The short and simple way of putting it is that the 12-year cover-up of the errors in the Old School SWR studies is the greatest act of financial fraud in the history of the United States. Once it is exposed, we move on to the first true research-based strategy and the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history. My job is to expose that cover-up, to bring on the hundreds of thousands of civil cases and the prison sentences for you Goons and all that sort of thing. When the massive act of financial fraud is written up on the front page of the New York Times, there is no more massive act of financial fraud. You cannot persuade people that there is research supporting the purest and most dangerous Get Rich Quick scheme ever concocted by the human mind once people know that it is all just trickery and there has never been a single study lending even the tiniest bit of support to the Buy-and-Hold “strategy.”

    When you refer to my “ridiculous behavior and off-the-rails reputation,” you are referring to the fact that I have been demanding honest behavior re SWRs and all the other issues for 12 years now. I am hated by the Wall Street Con Men and by their Internet Goons Squads because I have been threatening to uncover this massive act of financial fraud for a long, long time now. In a field that has become 100 percent corrupt, the one 100 percent non-corrupt guy sticks out like a sore thumb. He looks “ridiculous.” His behavior seems “off the rails.”

    So be it, Laugh. I wear my off-the-rails behavior as a badge of honor. I would be grateful if you would share accounts of my off-the-rails behavior at every board and blog on the internet. Please quote me. Please use my real name. Please tell everyone, Buy-and-Holder and Valuation-Informed Indexer alike, how insistent I have been that the errors in the Old School SWR studies should have been corrected within 24 hours of the time they became public knowledge. I want EVERYONE to know this about me. I want to be known as the most “ridiculous” figure who ever worked in this field during the Buy-and-Hold Era, when Get Rich Quick was all the rage among the “experts.”

    If I have positioned myself as far out on the anti-Buy-and-Hold side of the spectrum as possible before the next crash, there are two things that can happen. One, people could continue to fear the powerful and wealthy people leading the massive act of financial fraud and we could see our country descend into the Second Great Depression. In that case, I obviously lose nothing and at least enjoy the satisfaction that come with knowing that I was the one person who stood up for the country that a lot of us profess to love without without hesitation and without reservation and without fear of the consequences that everyone in this field knows are visited on those who post honestly and thereby “cross” the Wall Street Con Men.

    Or, two, people could become enraged about the 12-year cover-up and throw a good number of you Goons in prison cells. If that happens, we are home free. Once your prison sentences are announced, there is obviously never again going to be anyone putting up any posts in “defense” of Mel Lindauer or John Greaney or the Old School SWR studies or Buy-and-Hold in general. So we all move forward together to enjoyment of the good fortune that was visited on each and every one of us when we happened to be born at a time when it was possible to reduce the risk of stock investing by 70 percent just by sharing what we have learned from the Bennett/Pfau research with our friends and neighbors and co-workers and fellow community members.

    I don’t say that there is zero chance that people will continue to act in fear of the Wall Street Con Men and their Internet Goon Squads, Laugh. I have seen too much to say that the odds of that are zero. What I say is that, if that happens, I want to know that I was fighting for the other outcome as hard as I could. If our society is going to descend into the Second Great Depression, it is going to do so knowing that there was one fellow who told the full truth about these matters to the best of his abilities regardless of the consequences visited on him by those leading the massive act of financial fraud.

    I believe that it is more likely that things will go the other way, that my good friend Jack Bogle’s heart will melt when he sees with his eyes and not only his mind the massive human misery he has caused with his relentless promotion of the purest and most dangerous Get Rich Quick scheme ever concocted by the human mind and that he will then work up the courage to walk to the front of a large room and say the three words that we have all very much needed to hear from him for a long, long time. And then everything will be written up on the front page of the New York Times and there will be no possibility of anyone ever again making the case that there is research supporting the Buy-and-Hold “strategy” and things will just get better and better and better and better for all of us. We will have achieved the greatest advance in this history of personal finance and there will not be one amongst us wishing to go back to the days when the only way that the dominant investing strategy of the day could be “defended” in public discussions was with death threats and with demands for unjustified board bannings and with tens of thousands of acts of defamation and with threats to get academic researchers fired from their jobs.

    The millions of middle-class people whose lives have been destroyed by the massive act of financial fraud have never before seen acts of corruption of the size of those we have seen over the past 12 years, Laugh. If they are going to come to an understanding of what has been done to them, they are going to have to hear the story from someone who tells a tale that in ordinary circumstances would make that person seem “ridiculous” and “off the rails.” I am that person. When you say that my tale sounds “ridiculous” and “off the rails,” the message that I hear is that I am doing the job effectively and that I need to keep up the good work. That’s how this tale SHOULD sound given the level of corruption we have witnessed here.

    We’ll see how it all turns out following the next crash, my long-time abusive-posting friend.

    I naturally wish you all the best things that this life has to offer a person.



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