John Bogle was truly a pioneer. Few people would forgo billions by passing it all back to customers as savings to be invested and grown over time but that’s what he did.
It’s impossible to ignore the common sense importance of avoiding high fees. Bogle’s cost matters hypothesis and battle against high fees did more for the average investor — past, present, and (likely) future — than anyone else ever. When you consider compounding, the savings he’s generated has to exceed $1 trillion. He, by way of Vanguard, transformed the industry. His legacy will be felt for generations.
Of course, Bogle was more than just a low-cost advocate. He was a long term advocate. He was a do nothing advocate. And he advocated for enough:
At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel ‘Catch-22′ over its whole history. Heller responds, “Yes, but I have something he will never have…enough.” …
When I finally tracked down the source of the story, it turned out to be a poem, published by in the New Yorker magazine in 2005. It’s delightful; even better, it’s only 92 words long:
True Story, Word of Honor:
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer
and I were at a party given by a billionaire
on Shelter Island.
I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel
to know that our host only yesterday
may have made more money
than your novel ‘Catch-22’
has earned in its entire history?”
And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”
And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”
And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”
Not bad! Rest in Peace!
Rest in Peace indeed…
I haven’t read of a ton of Bogle’s stuff, but I thought I’d share three big resources I’ve bookmarked (to eventually work through):
- Bogle sat for a fireside chat with Bill Bernstein and a long Q&A session at the recent Boglehead meeting in October 2018 (videos with links embedded below). You can also find videos with him at past meetings here.
- John Bogle’s Blog. You’ll find links to his academic articles and speeches going back to the 1970s.
- The Bogle Research Center on the Vanguard site. You’ll find links for Op-Ed articles and more speeches (I didn’t cross check the speeches).
- John Bogle, Who Founded Vanguard and Revolutionized Retirement Savings, Dies at 89 – The Inquirer
- Samuel Andrews: The Man With the Billion Dollar Ego – Farnam Street
- The Art of Decision-Making – The New Yorker
- Basic Probability – Seeing Theory
- Fads in Belief – S. Godin
- When It’s Time to Do Something – M. Housel
- Intellectual Humility: The Importance of Knowing You Might Be Wrong – Vox
- The Most Powerful Person in Silicon Valley – Fast Company
- Can Student Loan Debt Explain Homeownership Rates for Young Adults? (PDF) – Federal Reserve
- Physics Explains Why Time Passes Faster as You Age – Quartz
- The 773 Million Record “Collection #1” Data Breach – T. Hunt