Jan 28, 2018

Ed Thorp and AQR on Retirement

I'm appreciative of the work AQR does and I am appreciative of the work that Ed Thorp has done so when AQR interviews Ed I'm even more appreciative.  Rodney Sullivan, Antti Ilmanen and Aaron Brown interview Ed on topics such as his early career, investing today, market efficiency, retirement challenges, lessons from the global financial crisis, investment education, and heroes and mentors.

Here are some quotes from the retirement section:

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"Individuals have a much more difficult time dealing with risk analysis and planning than institutions. Many individuals are going to come up short and it's going to be very painful for them in their later years. So, even though the institutions who have pushed for this see it in their own best interest, I don't think it's in the best interest of the retirees, and I don't think it's in the best interest of the country as a whole."

"It's the opposite of the invisible hand. It's the invisible foot in the mouth. Everybody's working for his own particular self-interest and it's damaging for the country as a whole. A great example is the lack of willingness to address climate change. It’s similar for individuals and their retirement."

"These issues are real. When people retire, they must have money to spend and it has to come from somewhere. There is a rational way to figure out how much they need."

on investment committees: "I found it difficult to persuade them that all this cerebration was a waste of our time...The network access, to me, is where the value comes in. Not the asset allocation discussion."

"Stocks have historically outperformed over moderate to longer periods by a significant amount. I believe that the equity risk premium is real, and will lead stocks to continue to outperform in the future."

"I find that retirement savings is individual specific. There's not one cookie-cutter answer for everybody."

on endowments: "We did simulations to create assurances that things would work out in a worst-case scenario. Our finding was to draw no more than 2% a year from the endowment. They have a portfolio that behaves like roughly 20% bonds and 80% equities, but they feel fairly secure."

"what they've done is to make the rules such that it's very difficult to change the investment policy. That way they may hang onto this policy and prevent defections during the tough times when there's a big downturn."

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