Jim Rogers

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The Financial Times published an interview with Jim Rogers, who’s one of my favorite investors. He’s written incredibly interesting books on macroeconomic adventures, but more importantly managed to retire 30 years at the age of 37 after making a fortune with George Soros for his Quantum Fund:

What is your basic investment strategy?

Buy low and sell high. I try to find something that is very cheap, where a positive change is taking place. Then I do enough homework to make sure I am right. It has got to be cheap so that, if I am wrong, I don’t lose much money. Every time I make a mistake, it is usually because I did not do enough homework.

Do not underestimate the value of due diligence. In the 1960s, General Motors was the world’s most successful company. One day, a GM analyst went to the board of directors with the message: “The Japanese are coming.” They ignored him. Investors who did their homework sold their GM stock – and bought Toyota instead.

I’m not buying any stocks at the moment. If anything is undervalued now it is commodities and some currencies.

Where should people put their money in the recession?

Invest only in things you know something about. The mistake most people make is that they listen to hot tips, or act on something they read in magazines.

Most people know a lot about something, so they should just stick to what they know and buy an investment in that area. That is how you get rich.

You don’t get rich investing in things you know nothing about.

You can read the full interview here.

I’m a fan of Jim Rogers. He wrote a book ten years predicting a run in commodities. He also wrote one of my favorite books, Adventure Capitalist, a fascinating story of his journey around the world where he talks about the macro-economy of each place he visits.

Here’s a recent video on Bloomberg. He thinks US stocks suck and the US Bond market is the last bubble left and mentions TBT. Here’s my post on my short bond trade. There may even be a currency crisis in the US and other countries. I still think its a good time to buy gold!

A lot of people think Jim Rogers is an alarmist with strange ideas. However, he is a very rich alarmist who sold his Manhattan home at the peak and moved to Asia.

Check out this great video where he explains the mistakes of the 30s which he sees repeated again now.

One of my favorite books is Adventure Capitalist: The Ultimate Road Trip, which chronicles his road trip around the world. I strongly recommend it.

Check out Part 2 of the interview:

Part 3:

Here’s an excerpt from a recent interview with Jim Rogers on why he prefers investing in China over India.

High oil prices, inflation, food prices etc have hit countries like India very hard. How should counties like India tackle the situation?
• Inflation affects everyone. Not just India. We pay the same price for copper. Copper price is the same in Australia, Germany and the US and India. India is not getting any worse than other countries. Except for the fact that the Indian government spends periodically more money in controlling inflation. The problem with India is that your politicians are worse than American politicians. You know Indian politicians believe and argue that the cause for inflation is commodities trading. How absurd is that.

Recently India banned Futures trading in some commodities like rice, wheat, rubber, potato etc to control price rise and inflation.
• It is the same tactic that politicians have done for hundreds of years everywhere in the world. Politicians would blame for anything wrong on three groups of people. They blame financiers/financial types. They blame foreigners: It is always good to blame foreigners. And they blame the Press. They blame you guys for commodity inflation in India. If the Press is not writing about inflation, we would not have a problem, politicians would say. It is absolutely insanity.

India banned Futures trading in some commodities without any logic or reasoning and study. And it has not done anything good for commodities in India or in the rest of the world. The commodity prices are still up and up. India needs to understand that there is no easy solution to high prices. As prices go up, people use less of anything and people would continue to produce more and that has always been there in the boom market. I read that India produces lots of foodgrains and do not have storage facilities and tonnes of rice and wheat are destroyed in public sector storage facilities.

How sad it is. It is terrible thing to happen. So let India do things to protect commodities rather than ban Futures trading in them. By banning commodities in boom market, the Indian government is making things worse. Look at China. The Chinese instituted price controls. Price controls have been around for thousands of years. They always make things worse. If you tell somebody that rice is only Rs 2, you have no other ways.

If you tell a farmer that you can sell rice only for Rs 2, he will tell I am not going to produce any more rice. Farming is hard work. I cannot make any money with price controls by producing and selling rice for Rs 2. So then you have less rice and shortage of rice. Even Romans had price controls, it never worked. So the Indian government is making things worse for India. It has been making things worse for the people in the last 50 or 60 years.

Some politicians in India blame commodity Futures trading as the reason for price rise; inflation is a big political issue in India.
•By banning commodity Futures, food prices would not go down. Because people sell in any prices they want to in Futures. So banning Futures is a senseless decision. In commodities market, we know what the price of wheat is. There is a public price for wheat according to demand and supply world over. So India banning Futures does not have any effect on wheat market. Indian government instead of being transparent and serious is creating lots of black market by banning Futures trading. It is going to make lots of people desperate. Politicians have been doing the same thing for many years, all over the world. Not just in India. It is worst for all of us.

What is the reason for the global food crisis now?
• The number of hectares of global wheat farming has declined over the years. The inventories of food are in the lowers ebb now in the last 50-60 years. In the last 30 years, farming has been in a terrible state. There is a terrible shortage of farmers now across the world. Young people do not go for farming. They study computers and get jobs. All the farmers in the world are old now. They are all men. Young people do not go to farms these days because farming is a hard physical job.

Seeds, fertilizers, tractors…there is a shortage for these stuff. We have a shortage of even tractor tyres now. That is the reason why we have shortage of food and there is a food crisis. It is not again speculators who have created the food shortage. Speculators take delivery of wheat. They don’t hoard wheat; it is the government that is hoarding wheat. It is the governments that are making the prices higher. Argentina says you cannot export wheat. A lot of counties say you cannot export wheat. The governments should call farmers to produce more and invite more people to farming by offering incentives.

When farming is coming down, governments like in India are trying to introduce price control mechanisms and bring down prices, and ban Futures. So things are getting worse. Things will be bad if it goes like this way. The food crisis will get worse, if countries act like this way. There will come a time when people will not get enough food. They are going to starve. The world is going through several weather problems. There will be droughts. So things are getting worse for farmers. I promise politicians who rule us are not going to go to the fields and cultivate. Do you think your politicians will go to the fields and work hard till evening to raise more rice? No way.

US President George Bush recently commented that it is the large population in countries like India and China that are causing the food shortage and crisis.
• I don’t agree. Look how things are blown out of proportion by politicians. Why can’t the people in Asia eat and live happily? Is it the prerogative of the US that only they should eat? There are three billion people in Asia. Thirty yeas ago Mao Tse-Tung was still running China. Thirty years ago Indira Gandhi was running India. Vietnam was destroyed.

Now there are three billion people in Asia, working hard, saving and investing. They want to eat more and they should. There is nothing wrong in that. Why should the developed world say that you should not eat? That is discrimination. I hope Asia continues to consume more so that their standards of living would go higher. All the western politicians who say that Asia should not eat more, let them go to the fields and work hard and produce more wheat, rice and maize so that food prices do not go higher.

Do you think India and China are driving the global commodities prices?
• Not just India and China. Most countries are driving the global commodities prices. America consumes lots of sugar, wheat and petrol. Europe does, everybody does. If America stops using petrol, there will be lots of petrol available in the world. If Europe stops eating wheat, there will be lots of wheat available. So what I want to say is that everyone is driving the global commodities prices. Everyone in the world is driving the demand for everything.

Which is the commodity you are most bullish on these days? Gold or Crude Oil?
• I am not particularly bullish on a commodity. I am in fact bullish on all commodities. I am not a good market timer. I am a very good or a very bad sure time trader. So I have no idea. I own all the commodities. I go to commodities based on historic fundamentals.

You recently said that it is the right time to invest in agri-commodities. Is there great investing opportunities in agri-commodities?
• I have bought into agri-commodities recently. I am an admirer of agri-commodities, and I hope there are great investing opportunities there. I make plenty of mistakes. But I try to buy commodities cheap. And agri-commodities are cheap and thus hold great investing potential.

What do you think of Indian stock market? Is it overheated and overpriced?
• It was certainly overheated, and that is why it has come down crashing recently. I am not a good judge of the Indian stock markets. Sometimes I get the Indian stock markets exactly right. Sometimes I get it exactly wrong. So I am not a good judge. So, I would not buy Indian stocks because it is too high. And your government continues to do stupid things like don’t trade in commodities. So if I am a foreigner I cannot invest in Indian commodities. It is sad. Vietnam recently said all the problems is because of importing gold. So don’t import gold. So Vietnamese cannot import gold.

Most astonishing thing. So governments keep doing these kinds of things. Vietnam said their problems are because people have been buying gold. Come on, how crazy can you go? Don’t worry; politicians can go crazy at any lengths. You know America said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There were not. They spent hundreds of thousands of billions and killed tens of thousands of people to find those weapons. So politicians do a lot of crazy things.

Among the three emerging nations, Russia, India and China, which one would you rate first as an investment destination?
• China, of course.

Why not India? Can you compare China with India?
• Indians have the worst bureaucracy in the world. India learned bureaucracy from the British. Indian bureaucracy has remained stagnant. Just stagnant. They do what they think only. There is no proper education, no infrastructure in India. It is the most wonderful country in the world. I admire India’s diversity. I tell my friends, if you can only visit one country in your life time, go to India. India is an amazing country.

But as a place for investment? Oh, no, I would think twice. Even Indians who have been doing great business elsewhere in the world, and when they go back to India to do business, it has not been a good experience for them. Many of them get out of the business and go back to other countries to do business.

You have driven through India?
• I have driven through India a couple of times extensively. In 1988 and 2001. It was spectacular; it was wonderful. I loved it. I love traveling across any place. You learn a lot about that place while traveling. The highway from Kolkata to Mumbai should be one of the greatest highways in the world. But the Indian infrastructure development is so bad, that it took seven days for me to cover Mumbai and Kolkata highway. But everyday in India was an adventure, which I loved. Yes, it is a great place to travel. But if you looking for efficiency and investment, it is not the right place yet.

So it is better to go to China?
• Yeah, in China, a truck driver travels 70 km an hour average. China has the best roads in the world. On the Mumbai-Kolkata road, a truck driver goes 20 km an hour. That shows the efficiency between the nations. To cross state boarders in India, it is a nightmare. In China, it is all great. In China, they do what they say. In India, the government says lots of things, and they do not do it. Yes, smart Indians make lots of money. There are several success stories in India. India has the most beautiful women in the world, but has the worst politicians and bureaucrats.

If you haven’t read his latest book, A Bull In China, I strongly recommend it.

Jim Rogers recently gave a presentation in Vancouver, Canada where he reiterated his belief that we’re in the middle of a commodities bull market. His logic is simple: the supply of paper currencies in increasing while the supply of hard commodities like aluminum and copper is dwindling. He also believes that there will be a long-term economic shift to China.

Here’s a condensed version of his speech, courtesy of the kind people at Agora Financial Publications.

The commodity bull market has a long way to go. This bull market is not magic. It’s not some crazy “cycle theory” I have. It does not fall out of the sky. It’s supply and demand. It’s simple stuff.

In the 80s and 90s, when people were calling you to buy mutual fund and stocks, no one called to say. “Let’s invest in a sugar plantation.” No one called and said, “Let’s invest in a lead mine.” Commodities were in a bear market and in a bear markets people do not invest in productive capacity. They never have. Perhaps they should have, but they’ve never done it throughout history and probably never will. There has been only one lead mine opened in the world the last 25 years. There’s been no major elephant oil fields [of more than a billion barrels] discovered in over 40 years.

Many of you were not even born the last time the world discovered a huge elephant oil field. Think about all the elephant fields in the world that you know about. Alaskan oil fields are in decline; Mexican oil fields are in rapid decline; the North Sea is in decline. The UK has been exporting oil for 27 years now. Within the decade, the UK is going to be a major importer of oil again. Indonesia is a member of OPEC. OPEC stands for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Indonesia is going to get thrown out because they no longer export oil, they are now net importers of oil. Malaysia has been one of the great exporting countries in the world for decades. Within the decade, Malaysia is going to be importing oil. 10 years ago, China was one of the major exporters of oil, now they are the 2nd largest importer of oil in the world. Oil fields deplete, mines depletes. This is the way the world’s been working for a few thousand years and it will always work this way. So supply has been going down for 25 years.

Meanwhile, you know what’s happening to demand. Asia’s been booming. There are three billion people in Asia. America’s growing. Most of the world has been growing for the last 25 years. So supply has gone down and demand has gone up for 25 years. That’s called a bull market.

One of the things you’ll find if you go back and do your research is that whenever stocks have done well, such as the 1980s and 90s, commodities have done badly. But conversely, you find that whenever commodities have done well, such as the 1970s, stocks have done poorly. I have a theory as to why this always works, but it doesn’t matter about my theory. The fact is that it always works this way and it’s working this way now.

So before I set off to my second trip around the world, I came to the conclusion that the bear market in commodities was coming to and end. So I started a commodities index fund. [Editor’s note: An ETN based on the Rogers International Commodity Index trades on the AMEX under the symbol: RJI.] This is an index fund. I do not manage it. It’s a basket of commodities we put in the corner. If it goes up we make money; if it goes down we lose money. But since Aug 1st 1998, when the fund started, it is up 471%.

I [mention this index] to show you that the commodity bull market is not something that will happen someday. It’s in process right now, and it’s going to go on for years to come, because supply and demand are out of balance. And by the time we get to the end of the bull market, commodities will go through the roof. There will be setbacks along the way. I don’t know when or why, but I know they are coming, cause markets always work that way. Commodities have done 15 times better than stocks in this decade and they’re going to continue that [trend].

You remember my little girls. My 5-year old never owns stocks or bonds; she only owns commodities. She’s very happy owning commodities. She doesn’t care about stocks and bonds, but she knows about gold. I assure you, she knows about gold.

Some of you probably diversify, or believe in diversification. I do not diversify; I am not a fan of diversification. This is something that stockbrokers came up with to protect themselves. But you’re not ever going to get rich diversifying. I assure you. But if you DO diversify, commodities are the best anchor because they are not going to do what the rest of your assets are going to do.

I will give you one brief case study about oil, because it’s one of the most important commodities. Some of you know that oil in Saudi Arabia is owned by a company called ARAMCO. It was nationalized in the 70s. They threw out BP and Shell and Exxon. But the last Western company to leave did an audit [of Saudi oil reserves] and came to the conclusion that Saudi Arabia had 245 billion barrels of oil. Then in 1980, after 10 years, Saudi Arabia suddenly announced that it had 260 billion barrels of oil. Every year since 1988 – 20 years in a row – Saudi Arabia has announced, “We have 260 billion barrels of oil.”

It is the damndest thing. 20 years; it never goes up; it never goes down, and they have produced 67 billion barrel of oil in this period of time. When nuts like me go to Saudi, we ask, “How can this be? How can it be that they always have 260 billion barrel of oil?” (By the way, last year they said they have 261 billion barrel of oil). And the Saudis say, “You either believe us or you don’t,” and that’s the end of the conversation.

I have never been to the Saudi oil fields, and even if I had, I wouldn’t know what I was looking at. But I do know something is wrong. I know that every oil country in the world has a reserve problem, except Saudi Arabia of course. I know that every oil company in the world has declining reserves. So I know that unless someone discovers a lot of oil quickly, the surprise to most people is going to be how high the price of oil stays and how high it goes eventually. That is the supply side. Let’s look at the demand side.

The Indians use 1/20th as much oil as their neighbors in Japan and Korea use. The Chinese use 1/10th as much per capita. There’s 2.3 billion people in India and China alone. Well, the Indians are going to get more electricity. The Indians are going to get motor scooters. They are going to start using more energy, so are the Chinese. But if the Indians just doubled the amount of oil used per capita, they would still use only 1/10th of what the Koreans use. If the Chinese doubled their oil use, they would still be using only 1/5th what the Japanese and the Koreans are using. So you can see what kind of pressures there are on the demand side for oil and energy, at a time of terrible stress on the supply side. These are simple things.

So I would urge you are to take a lesson from my little girls. My little girls are learning Chinese. My little girls are getting out of the US dollar. My little girls own a lot of commodities. I would urge you to do the same.

While, I’m not going to be learning Chinese any time soon, I’m still holding on to my gold, silver and energy stocks. They’ve taken quite a beating this year, but I they’re still in a long-term bull market. Even though the US dollar has shown some strength in the past 2 weeks, nothing has changed in the fundamental economy. The US government is still broke, it looks like we might have a Trillion Dollar deficit by 2010, and  yet it still willing to bail-out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the tax-payers expense.

A couple of days ago, legendary investor, commodity bull and one-time partner of George Soros, Jim Rogers, was interviewed by Betty Liu of Bloomberg’s Singapore office. It seems that Jim Rogers is also of the opinion that Fannie Mae is going to lose a lot of money along with other investment banks.

He’s still bullish on commodities like oil and food grain and he’s bearish on the US Dollar. Surprizingly, he’s also bullish on Arline stocks.

Here’s an excerpt of the relevant portions of the interview:

Financial Sector

LIU: All right. Jim, first, talk to us about the story of the week that we’ve seen so far, Lehman Brothers, you know, you’ve been very critical so far about what’s been going on on Wall Street, the accounting, all of that. Do you believe, I mean this is relevant – do you believe that Lehman Brothers is in fact in so good shape that they’ve got no liquidity problems or what’s your view on this right now?
ROGERS: Well, okay, I am still all – short all of the investment banks on Wall Street through the ETF. I know they are all in trouble. I know most of them have phony accounting. And you know, in bear markets, they all go down to eight. So, I just presume they are all going to go to eight before it’s over, before the bear market is over.
LIU: Do you believe that we could another Bear Stearns as we did in March?
ROGERS: Oh, why not, sure. There are certainly – and I’m also short Citibank and I’m also short Fannie Mae. So, you know, some of these companies have – have horrendous balance sheets and if the bear market has a ways to go, which in my view, it does, then you are going to see some really, really low prices. But, Betty, there’s nothing unusual about this, just go back and look at any previous bear market. Financial stocks sell at unbelievably low prices during bear markets. This was not going to be any – well, this one may be a little different because it’s just going to be worse for the financial companies during this bear market, because the excesses during the past five or ten years have been so horrendous in the financial communities.

LIU: All right. And Jim, you know, I want to turn back to, of course, the Fed and the banks and all of that. You were talking before about some of the stocks that you’re short on. Are you short on Lehman Brothers?
ROGERS: I’m short the ETF, Betty, the investment bank ETF, which means I’m short all of them. I am not short any specific investment banks. First of all, I have too many friends at all of those places, I don’t want to short any of them specifically. So, I am just short at the ETF, which means I am short all of them, I mean some would do well, some will do probably too badly, but the ETF in my view is going to go down a lot more.
LIU: Well, does what happened with Lehman Brothers over the past week, does it perhaps stoke your interest in shorting Lehman along with Citigroup? And Fannie, I believe is the one you talked about as well.
ROGERS: I’m already short Fannie Mae and Citibank, and have been for sometime. I’m just going to kind of stay with the ETF. It’s easier for somebody like me, who’s too lazy to spend a lot of time on any specific one, except for Citibank and Fannie Mae.

Monetary Policy

LIU: All right, Jim. So, tell us, you have also been very critical of the Fed and Ben Bernanke. I want to ask you first one thing. How do think the Fed has handled so far what’s been going on on Wall Street? You think that they helped situations or actually made things worse?
ROGERS: They made things worse, Betty. They printed huge amounts of money, which has caused great inflation which could cause the dollar to go down, and the Federal Reserve has taken on something like $400 billion of bad assets on to its balance sheet. Now, you and I as American taxpayers are going to have to pay off that debt some day. What’s Bernanke going to do? Get in his helicopter, and fly around, collecting bad debt? Is he going to start repossessing cars, repossessing houses that go bad? I mean, this is insane Betty, the Federal Reserve has $800 billion on its balance sheet. They have already committed $400 billion to bad debt. What then they are going to do next? Where are they going to get the money the next time things start going wrong?

Investment Strategy

LIU: Okay. Okay, well, given that scenario, Jim, as an investor, where are you going to put your money right now?
ROGERS: I own commodities, I have been buying agriculture, I bought airlines today. I bought a lot of airlines around the world today, both stocks and bonds. Swiss franc, Japanese yen, renminbi, these are the few things I have been buying recently.

Airlines

LIU: You bought airlines? A lot of people are very bearish on the airlines, talking about the fuel cost. Why are you buying airlines?
ROGERS: Well, Betty, you just got through the same why, everybody is very bearish. No, I don’t buy things just because people are bearish, but I fly a lot, and the planes are full. You cannot buy a new – if you order a new plane today, you couldn’t get it for several years. This Boeing and Airbus have problems. You read every day that the airlines are cutting back their capacity. Fares are going up. I mean, Betty, everybody knows about the fuel cost. Is there any airline left that doesn’t know we have fuel problems? They are adjusting for all of it.
LIU: Well, that’s true. But there’s also talk about bankruptcies in the airline industry. And you think some could go bankrupt?
ROGERS: How much more bullish in the news do you want? Twenty-four airlines have gone bankrupt this year. That’s great news. You know, five out of the seven largest American airlines went bankrupt during this decade. So, fine. Bankruptcies are signs of bottoms, not signs of tops.

Commodities

LIU: Right. You know, staying with oil and commodities, we’ve seen a pullback in some commodities in recent months. But which commodities do you like right now, Jim, and which don’t you like?
ROGERS: Well, I mean, yes, a lot of commodities have come down pretty hard. If people are talking about a bubble, I’d like to know what they’re talking about. I mean, many commodities, nickel, zinc, lead are down 50 percent. Silver is down 80 percent from its all-time high. Sugar is down 80 percent from its all-time high. What kind of bubble is that? Cotton is down 40 percent from its all-time high. Coffee is down 60 percent from its all-time high. I have been buying agriculture recently, I’m holding off a little bit right now because it looks like Congress is determined to do something to drive down commodity prices. If they do, it’ll be a fantastic buying opportunity and I’ll buy more.
LIU: Jim, you – .
ROGERS: But what I bought most recently is more agriculture.
LIU: More agriculture? In China, did you buy?
ROGERS: I bought agriculture stocks in China. It’s not legal for – I mean, it’s almost impossible for foreigners to buy commodities – commodities and sales in China.
LIU: Right. Okay, also, you’ve said before that we’re half- way through the commodity bull run. You still think that, or I mean how long can this bull run last for?
ROGERS: Well, Betty, there are number of acres devoted to wheat farming. It’s been declining for 30 years. The inventory of food is at the lowest level in 50 or 60 years. We are burning a lot of our agricultural products in fuel tanks now, as fuel. That’s useless, that’s hopeless. Talk about a bubble, that’s a bubble. It’s crazy that we’re spending so much money burning our agricultural products as fuel. But you can go on a long time, nobody has discovered any major oil fields for over 40 years. Betty, all the oil fields in the world are in decline. I mean, there’s been one lead mine opened in the world in 25 years. The last lead smelter built in America was built in 1969. Unless somebody starts bringing on a lot more capacity soon, that bull market has got a ways to go.

Oil

LIU:All right. Jim, also talk to us about oil. You know, you’ve been very bullish on oil. We’ve had a lot of people talk about, you and I had a debate about whether or not there’s speculation in oil markets right now. You say no, others say yes, like Soros, he says it’s going to bubble. What do you know that others don’t about the oil market?
ROGERS: Look, look, Betty, there are always speculators in every market. Look at the New York Stock Exchange right now. You think there aren’t any speculators down there on the floor of the stock exchange? There are always speculators. That’s what business is all about. I submit to you that most of the people and – I don’t know about most of the people, I shouldn’t say that, but we know that the IEA, the definitive authority on oil has said that the world has an oil problem. The Saudis have told Bush that we have an oil problem. Betty, if there is lot of oil, please, would somebody tell us where it is, so we can all invest in it? The world has a serious oil problem. Now, Betty, that does not mean that oil cannot go down 50 percent. During this bull market since 1999, oil has gone down twice by 50 percent, going down by 50 percent in 2001 and again, in 2000 whatever it was, ‘05 or ‘06. So sure, you can have big reaction in any bull market. But that’s not the end of the bull market. There is no supply of oil unless you – somebody can tell us where the oil is, the bull market in oil has years to go despite new corrections which may or may not come.
LIU: Well, but you know, and I know you always hate having me ask you about – about limits or caps and all of that. But, given the supply/demand situation that you’re talking about, how high can oil go?
ROGERS: Betty, I know you – how you’re paid to ask questions like that, but I don’t know the answer. I’m not smart enough. I know that unless somebody discovers a lot of oil, the price of oil can go to $150, $200. You pick the number.

U.S. Dollar

LIU: All right, Jim. And I’ve got to turn to the dollar very quickly. What do you make of the comments by Bernanke earlier this week, noting the dollar slide, you have been very, very critical of Bernanke on this.
ROGERS: It is astonishing. Now, this is a man that under oath in Congress said, “If the price of the dollar goes down, it doesn’t affect ordinary – it doesn’t affect most Americans.” So, I almost fell out of my chair when I saw him say that. We know the man doesn’t know about markets, we know he doesn’t know about the currencies. Now, we know he doesn’t even understand civil economics, simple economics. So, I was astonished to see him, what, two or three days –
LIU: Right.
ROGERS: – suddenly said, “Well, if the dollar goes down, it affects us all.” It’s called inflation. So, somebody’s been teaching him economics. It’s about time, he should go back and take Economics 101.

Not exactly fresh news, but its been reported that Dick Cheney, our beloved vice-president is betting against the US Dollar. He has tens of millions of dollars in foreign government bond and currency funds and international and emerging market stocks. His excuse is that it’s in a blind fund and he doesn’t know what his advisers invest in. That sounds like complete rubbish to me. I can’t imagine someone as intelligent as Dick Cheney not knowing what a huge chunk of his reported $95 million networth is invested in.

I’ve believed for sometime now that the government actually wants a weaker dollar and have been investing accordingly, but having the vice-president profit from it is a bit too unethical. The fact that he’s been profiting from the war in Iraq through no-bid contracts to Halliburton (in which he still retains a large amount of shares) is bad enough. If this had been China, he’d have been executed for bringing dishonor to his country!

Ethics aside, at least he’s good at investing. By being bearish on the dollar and the US economy he joins the ranks of supermodels, billionaire investors and sovereign wealth funds!

But there’s significant conflict of interest. Rather than spending $2 Billion a week in Iraq, if the government was spending that money on infrastructure development we might have a better economy. A stronger economy wouldn’t need this rate cuts and government deficits wouldn’t be in the trillions of dollars. This might have conceivably led to a stronger dollar.

Instead we have a dollar that is the weakest its ever been. For the first time in history, the Swiss frank is stronger than the US dollar. Most foreign currencies have appreciated considerably against the dollar over the past 2 years and I don’t see any signs of this trend reversing.

So are you going to follow the leader and bail on US investments too? Or are you going to stick your guns and weather the storm?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXUU_lyb0Lc[/youtube]

While Jim Rogers has never had a good opinion of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanake, he seems particularly upset with his latest actions. He thinks that he had no right to bail-out Bear Stearns (BSC) to the tune of $230 Billion of the US taxpayers money. He claims that if BSC had filed bankrupcy,the billions of dollars of bonuses paid out in January would have to be returned. So effectively Bernanke facilitated a bail-out so that his pals on Wall Street could continue to drive their Maseratis! Sounds a bit too conspiracy-theory to me, but in principle I agree with him. It’s not fair that the Wall Street guys take huge risks to make huge amounts of money, but when they mis-calculate, instead of being punished by the market (in terms of bankruptcy and financial ruin) the Fed just bails them out.

He also admits that he’s been buying agriculture for a while, since its the cheapest commodity and that he’s also out of the dollar. He also thinks that gold should be over $2,000, adjusting for inflation. The short term dollar rally isn’t fooling him, he’s using it to liquidate the rest of his dollars.

I always like it when he rips into Ben Bernanke! Mr Rogers says that job of Federal Reserve is NOT to bail out a few financial institutions and the stock market, but to maintain a strong currency and job market. He says the Bernanke’s lowering of the interest rates is debasing the currency which will lead to higher inflation.

He also explains why we’re going to see the worst recession in a long time and also mentions some of his current investments.

Its a great informational video. Definitely check it out!

[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=LjLMAQiIRyU[/youtube]

Jim Rogers thinks the US has lost its title as the world’s economic engine. He thinks the subprime mess will last for years, Bernanke doesn’t know anything about the economy and should resign, the US dollar is on a permanent decline and China will become the world’s foremost economic power.

Everyone is recognizing the weakness of the US economy and Federal Reserves lack of interest in a strong dollar. Realizing that the dollar is going to continue its free fall,  everyone from super-models to rappers are dissing the dollar. Even OPEC wants oil priced in a non-US dollar based currency, which it called “a worthless piece of paper”.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Its still not too late to buy gold and replace your dollar-based assets with foreign currencies.

Here’s an interesting article from England’s Standard newspaper:

Six more hard years tipped for subprime fallout

Benjamin Scent

Monday, November 19, 2007

The US subprime crisis will continue for years to come and America may be facing a permanent decline as an economic power, famed investment guru Jim Rogers said over the weekend.

“The situation is going to continue to deteriorate,” he said in Hong Kong.

“When you have a bubble, it normally takes years to work out all the ramifications.”

The subprime crisis is not over, Rogers said.

“I think we have a long way to go before it’s finished,” he said later at a conference. “When you have a bubble like this, it usually takes five to six years to clean it up.”

Rogers said not many people have lost their houses yet despite a credit bubble that allowed Americans to buy a house with no down payment – a situation unprecedented in US history.

But he said many will lose their homes before the crisis is over.

“Inflation’s going to get much worse. You are going to have more people losing money. You’re going to have more bankruptcies,” he said.

On top of his dire prognosis, Rogers said he does not see anything that could be done to save the day.

But, he said, any steps the US authorities take to try and stop a recession will not help the economy anyway.

“Let it happen,” he said. “There are these bad elements in the economy that need to be cleaned out.”

Rogers said that America’s position as an economic power may be starting a permanent decline.

“The United States has certainly peaked,” he said.

“America, in [my daughter’s] lifetime, will certainly be a shadow of its former self.” Rogers has one daughter, Happy, who is four.

China will be the “next great country in the world,” following Britain’s economic dominance in the 19th century and the United States after that.

He said of the ramifications of a devalued dollar: “You’ve got to figure out ways to protect yourselves. It’s going to change, the world as we know it.”

The dollar’s decline is getting “very bad,” he said.

He predicts many countries are going to stop using the US dollar.

In response to reports that Gulf countries, including the United Arab Emirates, are pondering dropping their currencies’ pegs to the US dollar, he noted some countries had already done so and expects more to follow suit.

“In 20 years, very few [countries] will have their reserves in US dollars – very few,” Rogers said. “You have to be nuts to buy US dollars in the twenty-first century.”

Rogers also called on US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke to resign for devaluing the greenback.

“All he knows about is printing money, and he’s doing it,” Rogers said. “He doesn’t know about the value of the dollar; he doesn’t care about the value of the dollar.”

The bow-tied investment sage, who helped launch the Quantum Fund with George Soros, said the yuan could replace the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency in 15 years, after it becomes fully convertible.

“I don’t suspect the euro’s going to last 15 to 20 years from now,” Rogers said.

“The yen will never be able to replace the dollar.”