Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to the discussion thread for another blog entry at this site:
Yes or No: Are you more important than John Bogle?
I would rate Bogle and me as roughly equal in importance. I obviously could not have developed the Valuation-Informed Indexing concept without the years of important contributions from Bogle that I use to support every aspect of the model other than the valuations-related aspects. But Buy-and-Hold without the valuations-related aspects is an unmitigated disaster; it has caused the biggest economic crisis in U.S. history. So what good is Bogle’s stuff without the elements that I have added over the first 15 years of The Debate About Having a Debate? Just as I am nothing without Bogle, Bogle is nothing without me.
The issue here is that both Buy-and-Hold and Valuation-Informed Indexing are numbers-based strategies. When you root your strategy in numbers, it is important to get the numbers right. Numbers-based models have more power than other models because people trust numbers in way that they do not trust subjective opinions. But what if you get the numbers wrong? And what if the thing you get wrong is 80 percent of the story? When you leave out valuations, you don’t just get little things wrong. You get all of the most important questions WILDLY wrong.
I don’t ever want to try to diminish Bogle’s contributions. He laid the groundwork for the VII strategy. So for me to diminish Bogle is for me to diminish myself, which makes no sense. But I don’t feel comfortable lying to people about what the peer-reviewed research says re the numbers they use to plan their retirements and Bogle lies about that issue on a daily basis. So, yes, my correction of Bogle’s lies is a very, very big deal.
The best way to think about it is that Bennett’s work makes Bogle’s work honest and real. Bogle did work of huge importance but like all of those darned humans he is capable of making a mistake and he made a doozy. To unleash the power of all of the genuinely amazing work that Bogle has done, someone had to come along who absolutely refused to lie about the safe withdrawal rate issue and about scores of other critically important investment-related topics. I am that someone.
My work COMPLETES Bogle’s work. Valuation-Informed Indexing is the investing strategy that Bogle would have gotten behind if only he knew what Shiller showed us in 1981 back when he first started talking about stock investing. Bogle was ignorant of how investing works in his early years because the entire world was ignorant of how investing works in Bogle’s early days. Nothing Bogle has done counts for anything until he corrects the error he made.
But Bogle is deeply ashamed of having destroyed millions of lives and of having caused an economic crisis. He is deep in cognitive dissonance. I am in the process of building a national movement of people who will DEMAND that honest posting re the last 35 years of peer-reviewed research be permitted on the internet. That movement will force Bogle to give up his cognitive dissonance and give meaning to all the good work he has been doing for decades.
Bogle doesn’t work without Bennett and Bennett could never have dreamed of doing what he has done without Bogle. You can’t have one without the other. The two have made contributions of equal importance.