Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to the discussion thread for one of my columns at the Value Walk site:
That is a flat out lie, Rob.
It is funny you mention Wade Pfau. He is the person that said you have caused him more harm than those you refer to as goons. In fact, he told you to stop talking about him. He also pointed out how you are wrong on the SWR issue. He is the actual author of the paper that you claim to be an author. When you have been confronted on Wade Pfau, you claim he is lying.
As for Shiller, he says not to use CAPE for timing, PERIOD. Your “short term” comment is also a lie. In fact, when you have been asked this before, you say that Shiller is merely lying.
You have also misrepresented Jack Bogle. When confronted on what you have said about Jack, you claim that he is lying. The same goes for others like William Bernstein, Larry Swedroe, Rick Ferri and a long list of others. You claim they are all lying.
So are to believe that each and every one of these well respected people are all lying and that only Rob Bennett is the one telling the truth…..or is Rob Bennett the liar. A simple Google search shows us that Rob Bennett is the obvious liar. This track record of poor behavior has led to your banning of virtually every popular investment board on the internet.
Before the Civil Rights revolution, we had laws in many states saying that people with black skin could not drink from the same water fountains as people with white skin. Were all the people who lived in those states lying when they said that they believed that the laws of their states were good and should be followed?
The companies that make cigarettes used to argue that smoking is good for your health. Were the people who knew about the research showing that smoking causes cancer lying by failing to speak out?
Lance Armstrong was once viewed as a hero for winning the races he won as a biker. Most of the journalists who covered him were aware of charges that he used performance-enhancing drugs. Were they liars for not including mentions of that fact in their articles even though they knew that Armstrong would use his considerable wealth to sue them if they did?
People are people, Sammy.
I wish that Bogle would come 100 percent clean today. I wish that Wade Pfau would work with me to get the research that we produced together on the front page of the New York Times. I wish that Shiller would say every time that he is asked about timing that his research shows that short-term timing never works and that long-term timing always works and is always 100 percent required.
But I also acknowledge the other side of the story. Each of those three people knows from personal experience what happens to people who tell the full truth re these matters. Each of them wants to be effective. And so each of them tells himself that it is better if he tells half of the truth and leaves half for his listeners to figure out for themselves. I don’t agree with the choice they have made. I believe that we all need the help that they could provide by telling the full truth. But I also have to acknowledge that each of those three (and all the others playing the half-truth game) have helped us all in a huge way by telling those half-truths in a way insuring that at least half the truth can be heard. Each of those three knows that no truth at all would be heard from them if their careers were destroyed because they told the full truth.
We’re in a tight spot, Sammy. We’re also in a wonderful spot. The shift from Buy-and-Hold to Valuation-Informed Indexing is the biggest advance in the history of personal finance. We will all live better lives after we all give ourselves permission to tell the full truth re these matters. But we are not there today. It makes lots of people feel bad to hear the full truth. Lots of people have their lives riding on Buy-and-Hold and cannot bear to hear that there is now 34 years of peer-reviewed research showing that it can never work in the long term.
If we were starting from scratch today, Bogle and Pfau and Shiller would all be speaking in a perfectly clear way. But we’re not. Those 34 years of cover-up happened. We cannot go back in a time machine and play it differently on the second try. We are going to have to find a way as a nation to come to terms with the cover-up. There is no other possibility open to us.
I am certain that the answer is not to say that Bogle and Shiller and Pfau are telling the full truth. Doing that just encourages continuation of the cover-up. I am also certain that the answer is not to baldly call Bogle and Shiller and Pfau “liars,” as you suggest. That claim might be accurate in some hyper-technical sense but it is not true at all in the real world of flesh and blood and sin and redemption. These three men are great men. They have helped us all in huge ways. They are entitled to some respect and affection as a result. If we must say that they are not speaking in an entirely accurate way, then fine, we need to say that. But we need to BALANCE those harsh words with some kind and ALSO ACCURATE words that help people understand the CIRCUMSTANCES in which these half-truths were put forward.
That’s my sincere take. I rank Shiller as the most important investing analyst of all time. I rank Bogle second. I rank Pfau in the top ten. These are great men. Yes, they are great men telling haf-truths about stock investing today. We all need to work together to change that. We all need to do so in a CHARITABLE way if we are to avoid causing even more problems rather than solving the ones that face us today.
There is one other person who has written about these matters who has a history of engaging in half truths. I knew about the errors in the Old School safe-withdrawal-rate studies in May 1999, when I put my first post to the Motley Fool’s Retire Early board. It wasn’t until the morning of May 13, 2002, that I put forward my famous post showing that those studies are in error because they do not contain an adjustment for the valuation level that applies on the day the retirement begins. I was for those three years, in your terminology, a “liar.”
So be it. It’s a correct claim, considered without context. What I said about investing during those three years certainly was not entirely true, I certainly did not say all that I knew.
I was afraid, Sammy. It scares people when they learn that the numbers that they have used to plan their retirements are wildly off the mark. It scares them a lot. A common reaction is to strike out at the people reporting this news to them. So I was afraid. Now look at what has happened to me over the past 13 years. Was I not right to be afraid? Do my deceitful actions not become at least somewhat understandable when considered in the light of what came after?
Bogle is afraid.
Shiller is afraid.
Pfau is afraid.
And it’s killing us all that these three (and many, many others) are not helping us all out by telling us the full and complete truth of what they believe about how stock investing works in the real world. We need them. And they need us. So we are going to have to figure out a way to acknowledge that, yes, they have not told the full truth for these 34 years, but that, yes, they are also great men who have helped us all out in very important ways.
They are humans, Sammy. Humans sometimes lie under pressure. It has been known to happen. Humans are also capable of doing all kinds of wonderful things if you give them half a chance. These three men have done all kinds of wonderful things for millions of people. Let’s all be sure to tell that part of the story too when we point out where they have failed themselves and others in their guarded statements about what we learned as a result of Shiller’s “revolutionary” (his word) research of 1981.
Maybe Bogle and Shiller and Pfau really are liars. But they are liars who have done more good for this world than 99 percent of their fellow humans ever manage to do. If I am going to be pinned to the wall and forced to call these great men liars,” I am going to add some words about how they are a lot more than just common, ordinary liars. They are liars and they are great men. That’s the full truth re that one, in my assessment.
Humans are flawed creatures. Great mystery of the last 34 years of investing history solved in four words! Who’d a thunk it?
I hope that you have never been tempted to tell a lie, Sammy. I hope that you are as perfect as you make yourself out to be in the way you frame your questions.
My best and warmest wishes to you and yours.