Bogle’s Expectations for Stocks and Bonds
Be Sensible About Rebalancing
Indexing Always Pays Off
October 21, 2013
To Veterans and Principals,
The press reports mentioning Vanguard just keep pouring in! Here are a few that may be of special interest.
WSJ-1: “Give me a B . . .” Monday, October 7, 2013. An impressive piece about the Bogleheads coming to visit to our campus. A capacity crowd of 209 Bogleheads joined us on October 16-18, representing a “fan club” that now includes 37,000(!) members.
WSJ-2: A Nobel for the Random Walk . . . Tuesday, October 15, 2013. This op-ed piece claimed that “one beneficiary of Mr. Fama’s insight [on the ‘Efficient Market Hypothesis’] was John Bogle.” Alas, wrong on two counts: (1) I have never accepted the EMH and don’t today. (2) It was Nobel Laureate Paul Samuelson who was the major inspiration for the creation of the first index fund. So . . .
WSJ-3: Eugene Fama and Efficient Financial Market Theory. Saturday, October 19, 2013. My “no-punches-pulled” response to that op-ed, reaffirming my own CMH (look it up!) and its supremacy. I quickly received an apologetic note from the author of the original piece, reading simply, “I blew it.”
WSJ-4: Should You Invest for the Fun of It? Saturday, October 19, 2013. A long piece of journalism, with numerous quotes from former Vanguard director Burton Malkiel and me. To sum up: “funny money” should amount to no more than 5% of your investments . . .
NYT-1: The Erosive Effect of Expenses . . . Wednesday, October 16, 2013. From a special Times section on WEALTH, some of my comments on why investors must consider not only the drag of fund expense ratios on their long-term investment returns, but also the “hidden” costs of fund portfolio transactions, cash drag, and sales loads and fees for distribution and advice.
M*01: Bogle, Buffett, Dad: Readers’ Top Investment Influences. Sunday, October 6, 2013. From Morningstar’s Christine Benz, yet another poll, this one citing the opinions of investors naming the individuals who’ve had the biggest influence on their investment philosophies. You’ll have to read this short piece to see who it was that edged out the great Buffett for the top spot.
MF-1: Investing Legend . . . Wednesday, October 2, 2013. A nice piece that honors Vanguard’s recent 39th birthday, and provides some welcome perspective on index funds, and on staying the course. “The trick to what I’ve done in investing is I don’t do anything. I look, and watch, and observe, and laugh.”
Whether we should wish it to or not, the spate of positive mentions of our firm and our philosophy seems unlikely to slow down. Phew!
Best to all,
October 10, 2013
To: Veterans and Principals
From: John C. Bogle
I’m back on the speaking circuit a bit (more to come on that later this month). I wasn’t sure whether or not to circulate “Financial Management: Profession or Business?”, the keynote speech I delivered on September 25 at the 70th Anniversary of the Philadelphia CFA Society (Chartered Financial Analyst).
But when the SRO audience at the National Constitution Center gave me a huge ovation for my efforts, and Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Joe DiStefano described the speech as a “stem-winder.” (His column is also attached.) I decided it was better for you at least to have the opportunity to peruse it.
Funny thing: audiences (especially this one) seem to like being critiqued, and inspired to lofty goals.
Think about it.
September 26, 2013
To: Vanguard Veterans and Principals: Happy Birthday to Us!
September 24, 2013 marked the 39th anniversary of the birth of Vanguard, incorporated on September 24, 1974. We were tiny then, with only 28 crew members on board when we began operations in May 1975. The environment was difficult in those early days—we were suffering regular net cash outflows month after month. But we were all excited to be undertaking “The Vanguard Experiment” in a new model of mutual fund governance.
In this industry’s then-half-century of existence, the idea of a mutual mutual fund organization had never been tried before. Our formation was novel, contentious, and politicized, and in truth our continuing existence was in doubt. Few in the finance community noticed the new firm, and those who did belittled it.
But radical changes in finance were on the way. The creation of the world’s first index mutual fund (“Bogle’s Folly”) followed in short order, a direct result of our unique “at-cost” structure. Going “no-load” soon after and eliminating our entire broker-dealer distribution network was without precedent in the industry. The introduction of our novel defined-maturity bond fund strategy followed, changing almost overnight the bond fund landscape of the period. Other departures—less radical—followed in the years ahead.
It seems to me a long time ago when Vanguard began, but I still recall the trials and tribulations, the slings and the arrows, the successes and the profound disappointments, the hopes and fears that punctuated our nearly four-decade history. But it’s a treat to see that in recent weeks our astonishing acceptance in the marketplace continues to be celebrated in the media. I have attached just four recent examples:
- 1. Motley Fool “Father of the Index Fund,” commemorating Vanguard’s 39th anniversary and generously crediting Vanguard for “creating an entirely new way to invest.”
- 2. Philadelphia Inquirer exclusive on the human aspects of my long career, headlined “John Bogle’s Enduring Wisdom.”
- 3. Morningstar Rekenthaler Report describing your founder as one “who entered 2008 as the mutual fund industry’s leading figure, whose position, five years later is that much stronger . . . his legacy, never in much doubt has now been totally cemented.”
- 4. The Wall Street Journal, September 14-15, 2013 “What We Learned From the Financial Crisis,” emphasizing the importance of “character” in investing. For whatever it may be worth, I was highly complimented to have this major story conclude with a paragraph citing words from a speech I gave almost 15 years ago (!): “To earn the highest returns that are realistically possible, you should invest with simplicity. Rely on the ordinary virtues that intelligent investors have relied on for centuries: common sense, thrift, realistic expectations, patience, and perseverance. Call them ‘character.’ And in investing, over the long run, character will be rewarded.”
Please revel with me as we mark our 39th birthday and thank you all for your commitment to our long-standing mission of serving investors.
Jack recently appeard on Chuck Jaffe’s radio show MoneyLife for “The Big Interview.”
To Vanguard Veterans and Principals
I’m sending along some of the press clippings that you may have missed during the dog days of summer, now rapidly coming to a close:
M/1. Bogle Weighs In On Key Issues. Morningstar’s summary of my extensive interview at the 25th Annual Morningstar Investment Conference. Responding to tough questions, I gave blunt—but, I hope, tactful—answers.
F/1. Enrich Your 401(k) In One Simple Move Using The Bogle Gospel. A nice article from FORBES on August 30. Little you’ll see there will surprise you, except that my correcting (sort of) the math of a Nobel Laureate may be a first.
FT 1/2/3. Vanguard’s Bogle Responds To ‘Parasite’ Tag. The first of five articles published by the Financial Times during the late summer, my somewhat sharp response to a London money manager’s opinion piece alleging that index funds are Passive Parasites . . . A commentary on this debate—An Elegantly Simple Formula Shows Why Passive Investing Will Earn Higher Returns Than Active Investing—is attached as well.
FT 4/5. Hidden Fund Costs Are Hurting Investors. Separately, the Financial Times relied on research that I recently completed for the Financial Analysts Journal. Included is an interesting ETF story whose headline—Performance will Replace Price as Weapon of Choice —may well be correct.
FA/1. Bogle Pressures SEC On Fund Firm Fiduciary Rule. A rare story from Fund Action on the work that I’ve been doing to persuade the SEC to deal with the (almost) industry-wide conflict between the interests of fund managers and the interests of fund shareowners.
HK/1. From Hong Kong, The Ten ___iest People On Wall Street. It may well be that Maria Bartiromo deserves to be ranked #1, but it’s a tad idiotic for me to be #6, especially compared to Tim Geithner (#7) and Jamie Dimon (#8), both of whom are three decades younger than I. (To avoid the possibility of violating company policy, I will not provide translation.)
These are interesting times. Be sure to enjoy them.
Jack Bogle’s letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal regarding a recent opinion piece about hedge funds was published in the June 6, 2013 edition.
I fear that The Wall Street Journal’s opinion piece by hedge-fund specialist Bob Rice (“The Hedge-Fund Investment Puzzle,” June 1) conceals more than it reveals.
Yes, as he writes, “it is plain common sense” to seek “downside protection, strategies that tend to zig when markets zag, and broader opportunities for profit.” But while the idea of market timing is indeed simple, many hedge fund managers have tried, but precious few have succeeded.
Citing Benjamin Graham as the first “hedged fund” operator is an especially unfortunate example. “The trick,” Mr. Rice writes, was Graham’s “clever way to make money . . . whether it [the market] continued to rise, or started to fall.”
How did the hedged strategy work out in the bull market of the Roaring Twenties and thereafter? Thanks to Joe Carlen’s recent book, “The Einstein of Money,” we know the answer. Mr. Carlen carefully documents the returns earned in the “Benjamin Graham Joint Account” (the predecessor to Graham-Newman Corporation).
From 1929 through 1932 inclusive, the Graham account turned in a loss of 70%, compared to a loss of 64% for the S&P 500 Index. (Dividends are included in both cases.) “The strategy unraveled quickly,” Mr. Carlen writes. “There was no longer any reliable advantage to be gained from that kind of hedging.”
Despite Mr. Rice’s high confidence in hedge funds (based on unspecified data), forewarned is forearmed!
John C. Bogle
Valley Forge, Pa.
Mr. Bogle is the founder of the Vanguard Group.