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:
According to Wade Pfau, who is the expert, yes. Anyone can go to his site and search your screen name of hocus and will see what he said about you and SWRs. I would tell you that you should take it up with him if you disagree, but I understand he no longer speaks with you after you decided to send out over 30,000 emails about him even though he asked you to stop.
I sent the 30,000 e-mails to academic researchers who work on these issues. They all want to do good and honest work, Sammy. And they help us all when they do.
And Wade very much wants that too. I worked with him for 16 months. We exchanged hundreds of e-mails. He told me that he wants that at many different times and in many different ways. Nothing could be more clear.
I know that we will all be in a better place when I can go to any discussion board or blog on the internet and post with 100 percent honestly and not have any concern whatsoever that intimidation tactics will be directed at me. We all do our best work when we feel free to follow our ideas where they lead us as we further develop them. Is that not so?
I want that for everyone. I want it for Bogle. I want it for Shiller. I want it for Pfau. Heck — I want it for you, Sammy! I have learned from you on numerous occasions. I want to learn more from you. Once you no longer feel a need to cover things up, you are going to feel free to say all kinds of things that you do not feel safe to reveal today.
I once recorded a podcast where I talked about my vision for the future of investing analysis. One thing I mentioned in that podcast is that I would like to see Money magazine have a ten-part series of cover stories focused on an “I Was Wrong” theme. Bogle could write one. And Bernstein. And Carl Richards. And Michael Kitces. I would write one. I have been wrong about some things. I think people might well learn more by me writing about things that I have gotten wrong than they would by hearing me push my views on SWRs one more boring time. No?
We permit (and even encourage!) honest posting in all fields other than stock investing. We all should be taking a step back and asking ourselves why the investing field is so different. It’s not that honesty is less important in this field. It’s that honesty is MORE important in this field.
Say that a bicycle manufacturer uses a new kind of metal to make bikes for the purpose of making them more lightweight but that in reality for some reason using the new metal made the bikes heavier. That’s a mistake, right? The company needs to fix that, right? So they do. It’s not a mistake that ruins millions of lives. So the people who make that kind of mistake feel comfortable acknowledging the mistake and thereby moving on to better things.
The problem in the investing field is that mistakes have devastating consequences. Get the safe withdrawal rate wrong and millions of people suffer failed retirements. Yikes! That’s why we have seen a cover-up of the errors in the Old School studies. Also, the errors that we make in the investing field are not revealed in practical terms for a good number of years. People don’t see their retirements fail immediately. It can take as long as 10 years before they even begin to see negative consequences. And the first negative consequences might not be that dramatic. It can take a long time indeed before people see in the flesh-and-blood world why it is so critical to always, always,always take valuations into consideration when putting together a retirement plan.
I don’t have anything to take up with my good friend Wade. We don’t agree on every little question. But we agree on 90 percent of the stuff that matters. The most important thing that we agree on is that academic researchers should not be intimidated into silence when they do powerfully important research that would help millions of people if it were featured on the front page of the New York Times. Wade was so excited about the research that we co-authored that he told me he could hardly sleep some nights during the months that we were putting it together. He told me that he had visions of winning a Nobel prize. And i think he will indeed win a Nobel prize in the end. His prize has been delayed, not cancelled.
Wade doesn’t speak to me today. But we sure will be speaking on a daily basis once he wins that Nobel prize! I am pretty darn sure of that. And he will be thrilled that I sent out the 30,000 e-mails when we all get to the other side of The Big Black Mountain. Wade and I are on the same side just as Bogle and I are on the same side and just as, ultimately, Sammy and I are on the same side. We all want the same things, Sammy.
We all need to work together to bring this intimidation stuff to an end. We cannot do our best work for so long as we are afraid of what will be done to us if we state clearly and firmly and simply what we have learned about stock investing from the last 34 years of peer-reviewed research in this field. We are on the one-yard line today. We are almost there. But not quite. We all need to hang in there and remain optimistic.
That’s my sincere take re this terribly important matter in any event, my old friend.