What Would Jack Bogle Tell Us Now?

Unfortunately, we don’t have Jack Bogle “around to calm us down anymore,” writes Wealth Logic founder Allan Roth in a recent Financial Planning magazine article.

Roth, a long-time follower of Bogle, offers a hypothetical interview with the late founder of The Vanguard Group that he created based on an actual interview from 13 years ago, during what Roth describes as “the depths of the last bear.”

Here are the takeaways from Bogle’s hypothetical “responses”:

  • Take a deep breath.  Both hope and the markets will rebound.
  • Stocks have not yet bottomed, and could drop another 15% or20%, but it’s important to stay calm and maintain perspective.
  • Investors should keep an adequate portion of their portfolios in bonds.
  • As all market cycles go, we have gone from hope to greed and now we’re at fear. Eventually, hope will return, as will greed, unfortunately. But I think it’s going to be a while before we have the kind of greed that we have witnessed in this recent era reappear.
  • Staying the course is the better strategy–it’s never a good idea to try to time the market.
  • If long-term investors go to cash, they will probably end up paying a lot of capital gains taxes. Even if they’re right to do so in the short term, however, what will they do next? People tend to be bullish at market highs and bearish on the way down—effectively buying high and selling low—which makes no sense.
  • What’s happening in the markets now seems to be signifying a final (at long last) reversal of the long-running bull market that has characterized the recent era.

Roth concludes: “Jack Bogle was right then, and his wisdom is just as relevant now. Clearly, he didn’t know the coronavirus was coming, but he knew steep market plunges were part of investing and that each plunge was different. Hope will indeed return.”