Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Yes John Bogle!
"The failure of our financial system has brought what looks like a significant recession upon the land, with hardship resonating throughout the economy. The citizens of New York City were the first to feel the blow. ... In 2006 the wealthiest 20% of wage earners in Manhattan made $350,000 on average, nearly 40 times the $8,800 income earned by the poorest 20%. But there is a silver lining around the loss of jobs among the large portion of that 20% who work in financial services. Last year a substantial sum, $620 billion by my rough calculation, poured into a system that supports the money shufflers and middlemen, whom I call the 'croupiers,' of the financial services industry. That's a lot to pay for financial intermediation. ... And don't forget that these costs recur year after year. Even as I expect these numbers will drop until the present crisis passes, aggregate intermediation costs could easily total $4 trillion over the next decade. ... As the layoffs descend on New York, with even the mighty Goldman Sachs announcing in October that it would ax 3,000 jobs, the city must retool. ... Our obsession with these flawed markers of sucess has, in turn, led to far too much young talent flooding into a field that inevitably subtracts value from society. I am not the only one to make this observation. In Berkshire Hathway's 2005 annual report, Warren Buffett offered the parable of the Gotrocks family. Sole owners of corporate America, this huge clan sits back and collects the generous rewards of investing. ... But in total the family ends up with less. Why? Because the Gotrocks are now paying the helpers, thus diminishing the total return earned by all the businesses in their portfolio. Worse, the Gotrocks are now forced to pay taxes on the capital gains incurred as the helpers swap stocks back and forth. After several go-rounds with different helpers, the Gotrocks finally listen to an old, wise uncle who advises them to fire all the helpers and simply reap 100% of their investment gains themselves", my emphasis, John Bogle (JB) at Forbes, 17 November 2008.
JB is a founder of Vanguard and its S&P 500 Index Fund. He's a giant in a field of pygmies. Right on JB! Connie Yu, are you listening yet? "The mighty Goldman Sachs"? Is Bogle alluding to "Casey at the Bat"? Did Goldman, like Casey, strike out?