Jim Rogers is an investing legend, world record holder and best-selling author. And his is a voices in the investing world well worth listening to.
Jim co-founded the legendary Quantum Fund – which generated returns of more than 4,200 percent over ten years – then drove around the world… twice.
He used this investing and travel experience to write several excellent books that blend travelogue, investment insight, and political commentary. Today, Jim is viewed as one of the founding fathers of the boots-on-the-ground approach to investing in emerging and frontier markets around the world. (We highlighted some lessons from Jim’s books here and here… and here.)
Jim also happens to be a fellow Singapore resident. I recently sat down with him for an exclusive one-on-one interview (you can see the entire interview, in video form, by clicking here). Below are some excerpts from this exclusive interview. (This interview took place late last year… but Jim’s insights remain relevant.)
Jim’s big picture approach
Me: In some ways, it’s a very basic question, but I think sometimes it’s very helpful just to take a step back and talk about how Jim Rogers looks at investing in general.
Jim Rogers: Well, I wish there was some simple answer, We’d all be rich… But ideas come from a variety of places for me… Walking down the street, sometimes I notice something different. Something’s happening. Something’s changing.
If I see a disaster in the press, I used to get very interested when there’s a disaster. The Chinese have a word that is weiji, which means disaster and opportunity are the same. That word doesn’t exist in English, but the Chinese have been around a few thousand years. So they know that disaster and opportunity go together.
Chinese for disaster and opportunity
I try to watch governments. In China, for instance, the government is spending huge amounts of money to clean up China. China is filthy… But now I see the government spending a lot of money to clean it up. That leads to opportunities…
And once they pop into my mind, I then have to do a lot of research, obviously, to make sure I know what I’m doing. And I make plenty of mistakes.
Where disaster is meeting opportunity right now
After discussing some markets that Jim feels are in bubble territory (which you can read about here), we moved on to which markets he thought offered good value right now.
Jim Rogers: Well, if I weren’t talking to you right now I’d be buying some Russian government bonds, in [Russian] rubles… Rubles are a disaster. Russia is a disaster. Interest rates are very high. You’ve got 10 percent or 11 percent short term bonds in Russia. [Short term bonds are considered among the safest types of bonds and usually pay very low interest rates.]
I’m not buying any China right now, but if I came across something I would… If I weren’t so lazy I would be finding some opportunities in Vietnam, [which] has a stock market.
Nigeria, Kazakhstan, we’ve opened accounts… because I see potential opportunity. You know, I avoided Nigeria since I was in university. It goes back that far because it’s a disaster, but I think I see opportunities now.
Nigeria: Land of opportunity?
Likewise Kazakhstan. I mean I was bearish in Kazakhstan for 49 years, but I think I see changes taking place there now. Positive changes. I’m sure there are opportunities.
But don’t just take his word for it
I also asked Jim about some of the biggest risks investors will have to deal with in coming months and years. Partway through that part of our conversation, he offered this pearl of investing wisdom:
Jim Rogers: Another very important lesson about being an investor is you don’t listen to me, do what you know. If I tell you to invest in Vietnam and you can’t spell it, you can’t find it on a map, for God’s sakes, don’t go invest in Vietnam unless you know a whole lot about it. So don’t listen to anybody except yourself if you want to be successful. I can tell you some of the things I’m doing but I don’t want you to, nobody should do what I’m doing unless they themselves happen to know a lot about it.
See the full interview
Jim had a lot more to say about investing, how to live a satisfying life, where to travel and his worst mistakes when I spoke to him. You can learn how to see the entire interview by clicking here.