Monday, February 13, 2017

John Bogle: The Trump Regime Wants You To Gorge Yourself On The Financial Equivalent Of Junk Food-- While Depriving You Of Health Care


John Bogle is famous because he founded one of the world's biggest and most successful mutual fund groups, Vanguard. I don't know if he's a Democrat or a Republican but I see he's contributed to politicians from both parties-- to Democrats Joe Sestak and Ed Markey and to Republicans Rick Santorum and John McCain. Over the weekend, he expressed his concern about the Republican push to end the rule that mandates that financial advisors put their clients best interests first. The banksters have captured most of Congress-- the entire GOP plus the Republican wing of the Democratic Party (the New Dems and Blue Dogs).

And this isn't just Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling. Although the Members of Congress pushing hardest for the bankster agenda are the crooked bribe-takers of both parties, what Bogle is most concerned about is the hypocritical Trump, who campaigned against the swamp and has now fully embraced it. Bogle's NY Times OpEd was in response to an announcement by former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn, Trump's director of the National Economic Council, that the regime "intends to review, and presumably overturn, the Obama-era fiduciary duty rule that is scheduled to take effect in April... [calling] it 'a bad rule' and likened it to 'putting only healthy food on the menu, because unhealthy food tastes good but you still shouldn’t eat it because you might die younger.' Comparing healthy and unhealthy food to healthy and unhealthy investments is an interesting analogy."
The now-endangered fiduciary rule is based on a simple-- and seemingly unarguable-- principle: that in giving advice to clients with retirement funds, stockbrokers, registered investment advisers and insurance agents must act in the best interests of their clients. Honestly, it seems counterproductive to go to war against such a fundamental principle. It simply doesn’t seem like a good business practice for Wall Street to tell its client-investors, “We put your interests second, after our firm’s, but it’s close.”

The annulment of the government’s fiduciary rule would clearly be a setback for investors trying to prepare for retirement. But the fiduciary principle itself will live on, and even spread.

The truth is, the existing proposal doesn’t go nearly far enough. It is limited to retirement plan accounts and ignores the other three-quarters of the assets owned by individual investors. Any effective rule must encompass all investors.

It is widely agreed that the fiduciary rule would give impetus to the growing use of lower-cost, broadly diversified index funds (pioneered by Vanguard, the company I founded), such as those tracking, with remarkable precision, the S&P 500 stock index. But even without the rule, there has already been a tidal shift to index funds-- actually, more like a tsunami. Since 2008, mutual fund investors have liquidated more than $800 billion of their holdings in actively managed equity mutual funds and purchased about $1.8 trillion of equity index funds. Low-cost index funds are almost certainly what Mr. Cohn means when he refers to the “healthy food on the menu.”

Several major brokerage firms have already embraced the fiduciary principle, announcing plans to comply with the rule by eliminating front-end commissions (known as loads) on retirement plan accounts in favor of an annual asset charge. And dozens of companies have reacted to the proposed rule by creating a class of generally less costly mutual fund shares with initial loads of 2.5 percent followed by annual charges of 0.25 percent of total assets.

I do not envision these responses to the fiduciary rule being reversed. With or without regulation by the federal government, the principle of “clients first” is here to stay.

In the debate about the fiduciary rule, one basic fact has been largely ignored. Investment wealth is created by our public corporations and reflected in stock prices. Stock market returns are then allocated between the financial industry (Wall Street) and shareholders (Main Street). So when the consulting firm A. T. Kearney projected that the fiduciary rule would result in as much as $20 billion in lost revenue for the industry by 2020, it meant that net investment returns for investors would increase by $20 billion.

By any definition, that’s a social good.

One must wonder how Wall Street, broadly defined, has been able to defy the interests of its millions of clients for so long. After all, 241 years ago, Adam Smith concluded that “consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.”

In other words, it is in Wall Street’s interest to promote the interests of its clients. As Smith put it: “The maxim is so perfectly self-evident that it would be absurd to attempt to prove it.”

Make no mistake. The demise of the fiduciary rule would be a step backward for our nation, allowing Wall Street to continue to profit by providing conflicted advice at the expense of working Americans saving for retirement.

But the principles of fiduciary duty are strengthening. Investor awareness grows with each passing day. The nation’s investors are already awakening to the role of low costs and broad diversification, and understand that long-term investing is a far more profitable strategy than short-term trading.

The fiduciary rule may fade away, but the fiduciary principle is eternal. The arc of investing is long, but it bends toward fiduciary duty.

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At 6:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what the money wants, the money shall get. If not from the fascists, from the other fascists. They don't donate a billion per cycle for nothing.

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

MR. BOgle is a national treasure!

At 9:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: "Comparing healthy and unhealthy food to healthy and unhealthy investments is an interesting analogy."

Interesting? Read the "analogy" again: Cohn, Herr Hair's director of the National Economic Council, said that the regime "intends to review, and presumably overturn, the Obama-era fiduciary duty rule ... [calling] it 'a bad rule' and likened it to 'putting only healthy food on the menu, because unhealthy food tastes good but you still shouldn’t eat it because you might die younger'."

Cohn essentially said "we think its a bad rule because it limits our ability to kill you financially ... and biologically, if the former happens to lead to the latter."

We should NOT be surprised, however we should realize the "favor" Herr Hair's political Tourette's syndrome is doing the country by incrementally stripping away all pretense of respectability and utility from myriad pernicious industries and institutions comprised of truly exceptional psychopaths.

John Puma


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