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By Jason Stipp | 06-01-2010 12:25 PM

Bogle: Don't Peek in Volatile Times

The Vanguard founder and former chairman says most investors will do well to ignore incredible market volatility, which otherwise tends to lead them to foolish decisions.

Jason Stipp: Now, I think during the downturn, it seems that nearly everything was correlated and went down at once, in a case of pretty extreme volatility. Now, for folks who are in retirement, and who needed to tap their assets for living expenses, I think that this really showed to be a tough time for them.

If we are in for a continued potentially tough time for the market, or maybe more volatile time for the market, should investors think about that volatility differently when they're planning their portfolios? How should they take into account that there could be a time when nearly everything goes down for a little while?

John C. Bogle: Well, first, I think we have to distinguish between investors who are actually withdrawing capital from their account regularly--"A." And "B", and investors who are relying on the income from their accounts to give them what Social Security or pensions or private retirement plans do not provide.

And if you look at it as income delivery, I don't see any reason to be concerned. I can see a lot of reason to be concerned, but also a lot better reasons to ignore this incredible volatility, which just leads people into making very foolish decisions.

So if you can follow it to some limit of degree the rule, one of my favorite rules of investing, which is don't peek, that's P-E-E-K and not P-E-A-K, you'll do fine.

If you're drawing down, you should make sure drawing down your assets over and above the amount of income you need, you should just have to be sure that you have a very healthy dose of bonds in your portfolio, and that will dampen the volatility in a very considerable way, with some mix of corporates and governments again. And municipal bonds I think are quite attractive here for the investor in the higher tax bracket.

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