Jim Rogers Has Advice for Fund Managers

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Even if you are outright bearish, don’t short the market. Stocks could touch crazy levels, but they may be in currencies which are worthless. Indeed, a sovereign default and currency turmoil could rattle world markets in a year or two. In a chat with ET, global investor Jim Rogers says cotton, silver and sugar can be hot picks. Read on.

At one stage we were inundated with gloomy forecasts, which were further reinforced by the IMF and World Bank. And then suddenly stocks surged — something most were not prepared for. How risky is the market today?

Central banks all over the world have printed huge amounts of money, and the real economy is not strong enough for all this money to be absorbed… so, it’s going into stocks and real assets such as commodities. It’s a mistake what they are doing. It’s giving short-term pleasure, but there’s long-term pain as we are going to have much higher inflation, much higher interest rates and a worse economy down the road.

The American bond market is already beginning to go down dramatically as people realise that the American government has to sell huge amounts of bonds, and secondly, there is going to be inflation, serious inflation, as it was always in the past when you had governments printing huge amounts of money.

Stocks are rising even as fiscal deficit is widening. Somewhere it has to snap…

It’s going to snap. Later this year, next year, we are going to have currency problems, maybe even a currency crisis. I don’t know with which currency — maybe with the pound sterling, maybe with the US dollar, who knows. It may be with something none of us have at the moment. When you have a currency crisis, stocks will be affected, many things will be affected. It is not sound, what’s happening out there in the world.

In the 1930s, we had a huge stock market bubble which popped. And then politicians started making many mistakes. They became protectionist. They made solvent banks take over insolvent banks and then both banks failed in the end.

They are doing many of the same mistakes now. What’s different this time is that we are printing huge amounts of money which they did not print at that time. So, we are going to have inflation this time.

What do you do? No politically-elected government can afford so much pain, unemployment and hardships…

America could have. America just had an election. The guy was elected in November and he could have come in the beginning of a four-year term and said the guys before me were hopeless idiots. They ruined things. We have to solve this problem. We have to take some pains now. But don’t worry, we will get through this pain, and in two to three years or four years, things would be fine. And he could have been re-elected.

If the pain comes in 2010, 2011 or 2012, there will be nobody he can blame. Especially, if things go bad later, the opposition will say, wait a minute, 2009 looked good. The next guy is going to say you did it… But you are right. It’s very difficult for an elected government. You have a newly-elected government in India. Whenever you have a new government they can take some of the pain.

You recently said that you would invest in China and Sri Lanka but not in India. Aren’t you betting on the new government in India?

I was trying to make a point that if anyone wants to invest in this particular part of the world, the best place would be Sri Lanka. Because it looks like the 30-year war is coming to an end.

Throughout history, if you go to a place after the war ends you usually find everything as very cheap, everyone is demoralised, people are just depressed and there are enormous opportunities if you have energy.

In my view, investing in Sri Lanka in May 2009 is probably a better bet than Pakistan, Bangladesh, India or some of the other countries nearby. Let’s hope the new Indian government does something. I have heard wonderful things from Indian politicians for 40 years.

And rarely do they produce. It’s not the first time that the Congress party has been in the power. If they mean it, India’s going to be one of the greatest development stories in the next 20 years. But I don’t know if they mean it.

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Jim Rogers has taught finance at Columbia University’s business school and is a media commentator worldwide. He is the author of Adventure Capitalist and Investment Biker. See his website.

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