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:
The paper doesn’t list me as co-author.
But that is certainly the role that I played. I didn’t go to Wade asking that he write a paper. He came to me because he had learned about Valuation-Informed Indexing by reading my posts at the Bogleheads Forum. He was afraid to post there because of the abusiveness he saw from you Goons whenever I or someone else discussed Shiller’s research and the many important implications that follow from it. So for about two years he just soaked up knowledge that he had never acquired when he was working on his Ph.D. at Princeton. He was the one who approached me and asked if I would be willing to work on the paper with him.
He felt that he did not even have the right to work on the paper if I did not agree. He said that he would give me 100 percent of the credit for the Valuation-Informed Indexing concept. He is obviously very well read in this field. And he said that he had never heard of anyone who had developed the concept in a way even approaching the degree to which I had developed it. We discussed scores of issues in e-mails that I have posted to my web site. There were several occasions on which he was amazed by what he learned from me. He would tell me that he was surprised by something that I said but then when he did research to discover the reality that what I said turned out to be correct. That happened enough times that he said that he had learned to assume that what i was saying was right because his skepticism about something I said had been answered so many times.
Wade wrote in the Acknowledgments section of the paper that: “The author is extremely indebted to suggestions and reading recommendations provided in the thread ‘Any Studies on Long-term Market Timing?’ at the Bogleheads Forum (www.bogleheads.org). Because market-timing strategies are specifically not part of John Bogle’s investment philosophy, the author wishes to thank without implicating users including Adrian Nenu, afan, alec, Alex Frakt, bob90245, cjking, crl848, dmcmahon, DP, grayfox, Les, lostcowboy, market timer, matt, Mel Lindauer, Norbert Schlenker, peter71, pkcrafter, Rodc, SP-diceman, tadamsmar, wearethefall, and yobria. I am also extremely grateful to Rob Bennett for motivating this topic and contributing his experience and encouragement.”
The thread to which he refers came into existence as a result of the 15-year Great Safe Withdrawal Rate Debate that began when I put a post to a Motley Fool discussion board asking whether a valuation adjustment is needed to calculate the safe withdrawal rate accurately. Not one person has been able to find a valuation adjustment in the Greaney retirement study (to which I referred in my Motley Fool post) or in any other Buy-and-Hold retirement study or in any other Buy-and-Hold retirement study in the 15 years of discussion that followed from that post. I have developed a funny hunch over the years that that might be because there is no valuation adjustment in those studies. Yet not one of the Buy-and-Hold studies has been corrected in the 15 years. Wade once asked the authors of the Trinity study to correct their study but was rebuffed.
Wade had zero problem acknowledging that I was the lead author on that study in the days before you Goons threatened to send defamatory e-mails to his employer if he continued to post his honest views about it. Again, the e-mails in which he expresses his fears of you Goons are posted at my web site. I have no problem with the acknowledgment he gave me in the study. It was perfectly appropriate and generous-spritied. I particularly liked it that he also thanked the Buy-and-Holders who participated in the debates that led to creation of the study; that was a very balanced and charitable and life-affirming way to approach things; that was typical of Wade’s behavior in those days.
I do NOT believe that Wade should have agreed to stop posting his honest views on safe withdrawal rates as a means of appeasing you Goons. I told him that that was an “insane” decision. We had planned to have that paper featured in a front page story in the New York Times. It merits that sort of treatment. Every investor alive needs to know how much valuations matter to long-term investing success. Wade is in a position to help advance the ball re these matters and I strongly believe that he should be doing all that he can do.
That said, Wade is in very good company re his fearfulness. I have mentioned in earlier comments here that I held back saying what I knew about safe withdrawal rate for three years because I was afraid of what you Goons would do to me if I dared to “cross” you in that way. That was shameful behavior. And of course there are lots of others who remain fearful today. Bogle is in that group. Shiller is in that group. Bernstein is in that group. Swedroe is in that group. And on and on and on and on and on.
Once we send a clear message that it is safe for everyone working in this field to express his or her sincere views, no one will be holding back. Some will be advocating Buy-and-Hold. That’s good. Some will be advocating Valuation-Informed Indexing. That’s also good. Some will be advocating elements of both models. That’s also good. No one should ever be afraid to express his sincere views re these terribly important matters. The only way to change things is for some of us to work up the courage to show others the way. I have endeavored for 15 years now to set a good example by being as honest as I can possibly be while never crossing the line and becoming uncharitable while also being as charitable as I can possibly be without ever crossing the line and becoming dishonest.
I am 100 percent certain that there will come a day when Wade and I will be working together again and when he will praise me to the skies for my contributions to that paper as I of course have always praised him to the skies for his contributions. Wade and I are on the same side as are Bogle and I and Shiller and I and Bernstein and I and even in a deep sense Greaney and I and Lindauer and I.
I hope that helps clear up any confusion re these points at least to a small degree.
I naturally wish you the best of luck in all your future life endeavors, my long-time Goon friend.