Jim Rogers' Investment Wisdom

Global investment advice from someone who knows: Jim Rogers was able to retire at age 37 after running Quantum Fund for 10 years with George Soros. In particular, he's paying attention to Singapore's market.

Most of my thoughts, you couldn't print.”

—Jim Rogers

Jimmy Rogers retired at age 37 after having run the Quantum Fund for 10 years with George Soros. While the stock market went up 50%, Roger’s fund soared above 4,000%. Then, the independent-thinking man, not yet even middle aged, took advantage of his newfound wealth.

He left his day job.

But, he wasn’t idle. Since then the five-foot-six inch (by my estimate), now seventy-year-old investor in apparent great condition, has been busy. He wrote five books, invested his own money and started funds for others to invest in. Plus, he lectures widely.

Street Smarts, Adventures on the Road and in the Markets

This is what he was doing at the Cosmos Club in New York City on May 15, 2013. Roger was speaking as part of the China Impact Speaker Series sponsored by the China Institute in Manhattan. He has a new book, , published in February 2013 and due to be printed in Mandarin. It was sold at the event.

Rogers was interviewed by Betty Liu, an anchor for Bloomberg television. This is my impression of that 45-minute exchange about financial markets with my personal take following. He also shared some of his personal life.

The market today

Roger’s says this is the first time in history that so many different countries are printing so much money at the same time. He feels markets are artificially inflated.

New markets going forward

Investment Biker

Rogers wrote the book . He is taking that adventurous streak to a whole new level. Burma and North Korea attract Rogers right now. He said that Burma was one of the richest countries in the area before the 1962 Burmese coup d'état. He thinks it will rise again. A stock market exchange will open there in 2015.

North Korea, if combined with South Korea, would create a powerhouse of potential wealth, he said, in part due to pent up need and also because of the proximity of the two countries to China. He thinks the two could unite within the next several years, a novel idea that I have not heard elsewhere.

But, our speaker also conceded that investing in either country right now is difficult. He said that everyone wants to get into Burma so the field is crowded. As for North Korea, he said currently the only way to pierce that country’s potential would be to invest in a Chinese company that is already engaged in activity in North Korea. For most, of course, either ploy would be very difficult, if not impossible.

Rogers also said that he is early to invest in potential areas of growth. This might apply to his prediction for North Korea in particular. Rogers offered that he is trying to delay his action on his typically almost premature timing so he isn’t invested without results for as long.

Malaysia

Rogers made some comments about Singapore’s neighbor to the north, Malaysia. This primarily Muslim country has gained recent economic momentum, according to Rogers, because commodities have done well. Malaysia has natural resources. He also said the governmental mandates that Malay Malays (not Chinese Malays, Indian Malays, etc.) should receive special privileges have inhibited some forward progress.

A cautionary word about investment decisions

The investment guru finds that after a victory in the stock market there is a tendency for the investor to think he can repeat the triumph. Rogers thinks it is wiser to take a rest before the next big decision-making process. A psychological correlate of this is that overconfidence (perhaps engendered by a victory) is the enemy of the trader.

The Singapore/Switzerland connection

Singapore is attracting the wealthy and it has the highest percentage of the world’s millionaires — one in six households have over a million American dollars in liquid assets. It’s corporate and personal tax rates are favorable.

Since Swiss Bank secrecy laws are being challenged, even more wealth will likely be drawn to Singapore. Though in the past Hong Kong has been a rival for this business, Singapore is more attractive now, in part because of its location. It is not bordering China nor is it part of it. Rogers is invested in the Singapore market.

One way to invest

Rogers does what I call “disaster investing.” In a nutshell, he puts money in a market when everyone else is afraid to do so. Rogers says he invested in Japan after the tsunami and in China the last time its stock market fell.

My take

One message that seemed clear from Roger’s wisdom is that Singapore could be considered as an investment option now. Rogers lives there. He is invested in the Singapore market. Clearly, it is less risky than trying to sneak into investing in North Korea through the back door.

Also, there are transparent ways to invest in Singapore. One is the I Shares Trust MSCI Singapore index (NYSE: EWS). Another is companies with fast growing dividends just profiled by Motley Fool.

Sadly, Rogers did not give any hint as to when markets, hyper inflated in his view, will fall. He says he is not a market timer. Nor, really should anyone else be. But, that being said, those who feel uncomfortable about Dow being at 15,000-plus might consider taking some money off the table. On the other hand, if Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke keeps pouring cash into our economy, the top might be a long way off.

Roger’s personal side

Rogers lives in Singapore with Paige Parker, his third wife, and two daughters, ages five and nine. It is well publicized that he insists his children learn Mandarin because he wants them to be prepared for the future.

Rogers is very proud of the fact that his nine-year-old, Happy, won a Mandarin speech contest in Singapore.

He said, “My daughter is the only one that ever won that contest with blue eyes.” He followed this with, “The five-year-old speaks even better Mandarin!”