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Morality and Money Management

Following his recent death, Vanguard Group founder Jack Bogle was widely and generously eulogized – and justifiably so. But if everyone followed Bogle’s investment strategy, market prices would turn into nonsense and would provide no direction to economic activity.

NEW HAVEN – The death on January 16 of Jack Bogle, the founder of the investment company Vanguard Group, was met with a slew of flattering obituaries. Of course, obituaries often praise their subjects. But Bogle’s seemed more laudatory than usual. And I think there is a reason: Bogle was an unusually morally directed man.

Of course, we cannot judge his success by his personal wealth. When Bogle established Vanguard in 1975, he set it up as a nonprofit. The company has no outside shareholders; all profits are reflected in lower fees, not dividends.

By metrics other than founder wealth, the Vanguard Group is a huge success. It invests for 20 million people in 170 countries. It has $4.9 trillion in assets under management. It may be the world’s most significant investment company.

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