The Investors Podcast: Jim Rogers

Jim Rogers was interviewed on The Investors Podcast earlier this week. Rogers is currently a private investor based in Singapore. Earlier in his career, he co-founded the Quantum Fund with George Soros (they were previously colleagues at Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder). He did well enough to retire in 1980, after just seven years at the fund, and has since pursued a variety of other interests including travelling, writing and teaching part-time at the Columbia Business School. 

You can listen to the full interview here. Some highlights below (paraphrased, mistakes are my own):

  • On gold: He owns some gold, but isn’t currently adding to it. Too many people love gold at the moment. It is a commodity just like any other.
  • On his investment philosophy: He isn’t a particularly good market timer. Learnt in life that the more people question, ridicule and laugh at you, the more likely you are on to a good thing. Most important thing is to find something that is cheap but where there is a positive change.
  • On catalysts: Just because something is cheap doesn’t mean you should be investing there. Often a good reason why things are depressed, so it’s critical to find a positive change that is taking place. He is usually early with his investments so he now tries to wait a year or two because it takes some time for catalysts to work their way through an investment.
  • On change: The world has always been changing. Pick any year in history and look at the world 15 years later – things were always completely different to what people expected. His view is that this is Asia’s century. In 1807, the smart people moved to London, in 1907, they moved to New York and post-2007, they [should be moving] to Asia.
  • On the US dollar: Post-2008, central banks have been the most powerful influence in the economic world. He owns the US dollar because everything else looks worse on a relative basis. People think of it as a safe haven. Might be a bubble at some point.
  • On Japan: It is a closed economy and society. They can continue to trick each other for a long time. Everyone will say things are great but it is likely to end badly (doesn’t know when).
  • On India: Has invested there on occasion, but with limited success. India has a very high debt to GDP ratio. Questions the sustainability of India’s growth. The country used to be one of the great agricultural societies but the government has protected farmers for too long. Hasn’t had a great manufacturing record (can’t think of Indian products that are successful on a global scale) and the services sector is still small as a percentage of the overall economy.
  • On Soros: They haven’t had any contact since he left the Quantum Fund. Soros was a great market timer, which is a skill you can’t teach. They were both very passionate and dedicated to what they were doing back then.
  • On position sizing: He has no preconceived position sizes for his investment ideas. He does what he wants because he has no one to answer to. He is not particularly disciplined in managing his personal portfolio but has enough money to get away with it.
  • On macro indicators: Looks at a wide range of data. Biggest warning signs are “this time it’s different” and when he sees everybody doing the same thing.