Jack Bogle transformed the investing industry when he launched the first of an index mutual fund in 1976, and notable economists and investors have championed the idea of a low-cost fund with broad market exposure -- Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A) - Get Report (BRK.B) - Get Report Warren Buffett even called Bogle a "hero" for American investors in his annual letter this year.
"The reality is that if you have Paul Samuelson, and essentially Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett and David Swenson on your side -- coming up to bat, kind of like murderers' row if you talk about the Yankees -- I simply wouldn't want to be the pitcher on the other side," Bogle told TheStreet in an interview. The founder of the Vanguard Group recalled a quote from French author and poet Victor Hugo to emphasize his point,"No army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come."
(Murderers' Row refers to the dominant 1927 New York Yankees baseball team, describing what is said to be the best starting nine in baseball history, which included Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.)
Buffett, 86, has been "huge booster" of Bogle and his ideas, he said.
"[Buffett] talks about indexing all the time," Bogle, 88, said. "He's a great believer."
Buffett even used Vanguard's S&P 500 Admiral Fund (VFIAX) - Get Report for his 10-year "bet" with the former co-manager of asset manager Protege Partners, Ted Seides. The Berkshire Hathaway CEO argued that "active management by professionals -- in aggregate -- would over a period of years underperform the returns achieved by rank amateurs who simply sat still."
"Most investors, institutional individuals, would be better off in an index fund," Bogle said. "It's not only true, but it's mathematically correct."
And nine years into the bet, Seides essentially called it off as Buffett's index fund trounced Protege Partner's five funds-of-funds. Buffett did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.
Still, Bogle says he and Buffett are in different leagues.
"I'm a simple guy that says I can't be Warren Buffett," said Bogle. "I would not know how to do what he has been able to do with such incredible success, in an honest, straightforward way."
But it's not just Buffett who is backing Bogle. David Swensen, the manager of Yale University's endowment fund, "totally agrees" with Bogle, he said. Swenson told NPR in 2015 that very-low-fee index funds make the most sense for individual investors.
Nobel laureate Paul Samuelson, who Bogle called the "greatest U.S. economist" of the 20th century, has also endorsed the Vanguard founder. Bogle said Samuelson used to send "tributes" to him, saying that Bogle was doing the right thing for Samuelson's children and grandchildren. Notably, Samuelson lamented in a well-known Newsweek column in August 1976 titled "Index Fund Index" about the lack of access to index funds for retail investors. Weeks later, Vanguard's index fund launched.
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