“The most important lesson in life is… ” — Jim Rogers
Yesterday, about 50 of us on the FreedomFest Asian cruise heard famed financial guru Jim Rogers (“The Adventure Capitalist”) speak on his living in Singapore and your latest investment advice. Jim is an old friend who, as the former partner of George Soros, made millions of dollars in a joint hedge fund. Rogers traveled the world in the early 2000s as told in his book “Investment Biker.” My favorite book is “Street Smarts,” which can be ordered from Amazon.
Rogers and I have two things in common — we both have taught at Columbia Business School and we share the same birthday, Oct. 19. Thus, we are known as the “crash babies.”
Now he lives with his wife and two young children in Singapore, where they are learning Mandarin Chinese. Jim believes that just as the future belonged to the British in the 19th century and the Americans in the 20th century, so the Chinese will own the 21st century. But he still feels that the dollar is king and English is the language of international commerce. Yet he warns that the United States is in danger of being a Third World country in terms of infrastructure of education. The Asians are more advanced now than the United States (except in places like Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines).
Jim is a generally a bear on the stock market and bullish on commodities, but he’s not invested in gold right now. He hopes to see it under $1,000 an ounce. But he did warn of another crisis coming in the “next two or three years.” The dollar will be the safe haven at that time, but in the long term he’s bearish on the dollar. China will have its share of crises, he said, just like America in the 19th century suffering from civil war and numerous panics. He’s keen on education.
My Asian tour’s next stop is Vietnam, followed by Hong Kong (where I will be having lunch with Richard Yong, a top economist at the University of Hong Kong), Taiwan and Japan. I’ll have another report next week. Vietnam will be my 77th country to visit.
Interesting fact: All of the Asian countries have been growing much faster than the United States since the 2008 financial crisis, but all of the emerging markets except one (Thailand) have underperformed the U.S. stock market. It just goes to show that Wall Street is not Main Street. In my newsletter, I’m not recommending any index funds in Asia, although that might change. Wall Street is where the action is.
At the end of Jim’s talk, I asked him what the most important lesson he’s learned in life was. He said, “Having children — they are more important than anything else you do in life, your career, your business, your friends.”
You Blew It! Bottleneck to Paradise in Thailand?
Earlier this week, I took my family to Thailand on our way to our FreedomFest Asian cruise. We were hosted by two wonderful friends in Bangkok who work for the state department there.
We spent two wonderful days seeing the sights. We rode elephants in a river, climbed waterfalls in a national forest and had dinner overlooking the famous Bridge over the River Kwai (subject of one of my favorite films). The next day we saw the magnificent Imperial Palace.
The only problem was the infamous Bangkok traffic — what a nightmare. If you didn’t drive into the city before 7 am, you expect to spend hours and hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic jams. There were tolls every once in a while, but no toll lanes, no HOV lanes, no peak pricing to deal with the laissez faire transportation system. And that was with people driving practically on the sidewalks. And it didn’t help with the protesters blocking several main roads in and out of the city.
What a contrast when we arrived in Singapore. The government there has set up peak pricing to control traffic and charges a hefty fee just to own an automobile. There are virtually no traffic jams in this city-state. It works and the Fraser Institute rates Singapore #1 in the world in economic freedom (though not in political freedom). Is there a lesson there for Thailand and the United States?
In case you missed it, I encourage you to read my e-letter column from last week about my brief thoughts on Gross Output, cybersecurity, private equity and education. I also invite you to comment in the space provided below.