My last two blog entries reported on e-mail correspondence between Former Financial Analysts Journal Editor Rob Arnott and I in which we discussed the brutal (my word) intimidation tactics that have been employed by Buy-and-Holders in recent years to block the publication of academic research revealing the deficiencies of the “status quo” (Arnott’s phrase) thinking on how the stock market works. He reported that he has had difficulty finding journals to publish his more controversial work and that articles of his that challenged the conventional thinking of today have generated hate mail. In fact, he has not yet been able to find a journal to publish an article on an important topic that he co-authored with Nobel Laureate Harry Markowitz! (I checked his e-mail three times when writing these words to be sure that I did not just imagine this part while experiencing a fever.) I expressed my shock at this report and noted that I believe that the reason why I feel a greater sense of urgency re solving the problem is that my perspective is that of a journalist rather than that of an investing expert and I thus tend to focus on the public policy implications of the 30-year cover-up of Yale Economics Professor Robert Shiller’s “revolutionary” (Shiller’s word) findings showing how stock investing really works (not at all how the Buy-and-Holders have been for many years now telling millions of middle-class investors it works).
Late in the afternoon of December 6, 2012, Arnott replied to my e-mail of that morning. He wrote: “I am very pleased that you were not offended at my frank advice. I’m too embroiled in my own controversies to magnify them further with collaboration. Your ideas are sound. Your stridency is unhelpful to your cause. Anyway, all the best.”
I immediately sent back the following words: “I understand. I hope that I am not guilty of stridency. You are certainly not the only person who has said that I am. So I am going to need to work harder to examine my own behavior. I wish you all the best as well.”
I then sent an e-mail to Vanguard Founder John Bogle, Four Pillars of Investing Author William Bernstein, and Academic Researcher Wade Pfau saying: “Since the three of you were copied on the e-mail that I sent to Rob Arnott this morning, I wanted you to see the resolution of our conversation as set forth in his e-mail to me this afternoon and then my response to him. And I of course wish the three of you all the best that this life has to offer as well. Please take good care.”
The following afternoon I received a final e-mail from Rob Arnott containing the following warm message: “Have a wonderful holiday season!”