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:
How does that compute with your fantasy of me (and others) to go to prison for disagreeing with you?
It’s of course 100 percent preposterous that anyone would go to prison for disagreeing with me Sammy. But death threats? Demands for unjustified board bannings? Tens of thousands of acts of defamation? Threats to get academic researchers fired from their jobs? Those sorts of things don’t belong in an investing discussion.
Shiller was awarded a Nobel Prize for showing that valuations affect long-term returns. If valuations affect long-term returns, investors need to change their stock allocations in response to dramatic shifts in valuation levels. That’s ABC logic. The Buy-and-Holders say something very different. The Buy-and-Holders say that there is NO NEED for investors to change their stock allocations no matter how much valuations change. Huh?
The Buy-and-Holders really believe what they say. So there is no crime in them saying it. They are helping us all out by arguing their beliefs to the best of their abilities.
But there are lines. You can’t intimidate others into not stating their sincere views. That’s what you have been doing for 13 years now. I have talked to many academic researchers who have felt intimidated. I have talked to many journalists who have felt intimidated. I have talked to many bloggers who have felt intimidated. I have talked to many investment advisors who have felt intimidated.
This is a problem of huge public policy significance. People invest to finance their retirements. If the Buy-and-Holders are wrong (there is now 34 years of peer-reviewed research showing that they are), people need to know that. Our economic system could fail if we do not get the word out. Heaven help us all, but our political system could fail. We are already seeing a loss of confidence in our political system on both the left and right and we haven’t even experienced the next price crash yet.
Bernie Madoff is in prison because he caused thousands of failed retirements. If Shiller is right about valuations (and there is now a mountain of evidence backing him up), Buy-and-Hold will have caused MILLIONS of failed retirements before we reach the end of this economic crisis. This is not a joke. This is serious stuff.
I am the best friend you have on this planet, Sammy. I am asking you to come clean. The sooner you come clean, the less angry people will be. The less angry people are, the shorter your prison sentence will be.
Your friend is not the person who always tells you what you want to hear. Your friend is the person who tells you what you need to hear when there is something that you very much need to hear but that you do not want to hear.
That’s my sincere take re these terribly important matters, in any event.
And, yes, I really DO wish you all the best. I will do my absolute best to see that things go as well as possible for you given the circumstances that apply. I obviously am not going to engage in financial fraud myself and thereby set things up so that down the road I join you in prison. But anything short of that I am 100 percent happy to do. Please just let me know when you open your mind to the possibility of acting in your own best interests re these matters.