"From the Andes to the Urals, countries that once bleated about First World exploitation are now trying to get rich. Even those that are socialist want to be rich socialists"

INVESTMENTS

The investment business has few genuine heroes, but one with a good claim to belong to any Hall of Fame that exists is a charming but unorthodox American called Jim Rogers. Thirty years ago, while on a postgraduate scholarship at Oxford, he coxed the Dark Blues in the Boat Race and hoarded the few dollars he had in the expectation that the pound would soon be devalued against the dollar.

It was the start of a lifetime of taking bets on the direction of the world's financial markets that has made him a fortune and given him the freedom to do what he wants with his life.

Although virtually unknown in this country, in the United States, where investment is regarded as an honourable occupation, Mr Rogers is something of a phenomenon.

A self-confessed "loner and misanthrope", he made his name - and his money - as George Soros' partner in the early years of the Quantum Fund, one of the most successful investment partnerships ever.

In what appears to have been a profitable but strained relationship, Mr Rogers did much of the research while Mr Soros (so he says, anyway) made the big strategic decisions.

In 1980, when he was 37, there was some sort of falling out and Rogers cashed in his share of the partnership and "retired".

He now invests as a hobby rather than as a professional money manager.

In his spare time, he teaches a class on investment at a business school in New York, and makes regular appearances on television programmes and in the investment pages of the financial journals.

Some day someone will write a learned academic thesis about the influence of Oxford University on modern investment trends.

Like Sir John Templeton before him, another American who spent time as a postgraduate at Oxford, Mr Rogers can justly claim to be one of the pioneers of today's hottest fad, investment in emerging markets.

Just as Sir John was one of the first to spot the economic potential of Japan when it was still an emerging economy back in the 1960s, so Mr Rogers has been demonstrating for years just how profitable picking the next Japan or Chile can be - if you can find them.

At the moment, as it happens, there is plenty of supply. With communism discredited, and trade and investment barriers coming down all round the world, there is no shortage of wannabe capitalist nations.

From the Andes to the Urals, countries that once spent their time bleating about First World exploitation are now opening their markets and concentrating on getting rich. Even those who are still socialist, says Mr Rogers, now want to be rich socialists.

Five years ago, aged 48, Mr Rogers fulfilled a lifetime's ambition by leaving New York to travel round the world - some 57,000 miles in 20 months - by motorbike.

On the way, flogging through the outer reaches of Siberia, Australasia, Africa and South America, he found there were simply too many investment opportunities to resist.

If he liked a country - and he liked New Zealand, Argentina, Peru, Botswana, and several more - he went down to the local stock exchange and bought a bunch of blue-chip stocks.

In the case of Botswana there were only seven shares altogether, so be bought them all from the only broker the country had.

The results of this journey are chronicled in a splendid but unusual book, Investment Biker, half travelogue, half musings on the state of the world and its current investment opportunities.

Anyone interested in how smart investors tick, or how to read the entrails of a market, will find it full of valuable insights. In Mr Rogers' view, all markets - whether you are talking about stock markets, currencies, gold, or wool - ultimately dance to the same tune.

Like nearly all the most successful investors, Rogers is an unashamed contrarian.

Just as trees can't grow to the sky, goes one of his favourite aphorisms, so markets don't go in the same direction forever.

The investments he likes best are those that are currently most out of favour. What he looks for in countries are economies which are experiencing "secular change", but whose moves towards economic realism have yet to be fully appreciated.

Best of all are those that have recognised the need to attract foreign capital and are just beginning to develop investor-friendly stock markets.

Getting in on the ground floor is the way to get the most value out of these situations.

The one condition that he insists on is that the country must have a convertible currency.

This is essential if investors are to have any confidence in being able to get their money out when the time arises.

The black market rate of a country's currency is generally a good guide to the health of its economy.

In Mr Rogers' case, that means directing his money towards several countries that would not feature even on the list of most specialist emerging market funds.

Not many funds are yet ready for Ghana, Uruguay, Botswana and Peru.

His tip for the hottest markets of the next decade are (of all unlikely places) Iran and Venezuela.

By contrast, he is bearish about Mexico - a "sham" - and doubtful about the prospects for Eastern Europe and the Hong Kong market. Zaire he would avoid like the plague.

Not many ordinary investors, it is safe to say, will actually feel the urge to follow Mr Rogers' lead and put their money in these out-of-the- way places.

But you should certainly note the thinking that underlies his investment approach. His view is that while there are huge opportunities in investing aboard, the great bull market in American and UK shares of the last 20 years is now in the process of drawing to an end. He fears that the twin deficits in the US are symptoms of a deep-seated economic and social malaise in his home country.

When I spoke to him in London this week, his view was that we are moving into a period when commodities and natural resources are about to experience a renaissance.

They have been in a bear market for at least a decade, and even longer in some cases.

The places to invest in future are those that will benefit from this next great secular change.

It is no accident that many of the countries he likes from an investment perspective have a wealth of natural resources.

But the best investment advice anyone can give to their children, says Mr Rogers, is to tell them to learn Chinese or Spanish.

Just as the last century belonged to the British, and this one to the Americans, so the next century will inevitably belong to the Chinese.

The way to invest in this change is probably not to put your money directly into China (where the political and economic environment remains uncertain), but into countries run by the "offshore Chinese", where the rules of capitalist life are better understood.

Investment Biker by James Rogers. John Willey. pounds 12.99.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Going down the wrong road: parking fines are
nudging people into debt difficulties

Charges related to car parking rising and leading to serious money woes

Going down the wrong road: parking fines are nudging people into debt difficulties

Stacks of income: Drax is among the companies in Neil Woodford’s portfolio that he believes will pay strong dividends

Mark Dampier: Woodford’s young companies could be the stars of the future

Stacks of income: Drax is among the companies in Neil Woodford’s portfolio that he believes will pay strong dividends

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Simon Read: The markets might not be calm but you should be

Don't panic, it’s a wise idea to check investments regularly to ensure they are on target for your hoped-for returns

Only six per cent of the 13,000 new homes bought during Help to Buy’s first nine months were in London

Money Insider: Help to Buy must be boosted by building

With little or no wage growth being seen in the UK, increasing house-price inflation could see the number of first-time buyers slide further, unless there’s a new accelerated house building programme

House buyers can take their pick of more than 3,500 home loans, the most available since the financial crisis

Simon Read: Those cheap home loans may be built on shaky foundations

You should ignore the headline offers and trickery and work out the total cost of borrowing under different deals

Denise Leigh, who appeared in a production
of Rigoletto with Alan Opie, was left without an essential service

The opera singer, the broadband delay and why customers aren’t divas if they expect a good service

Denise Leigh, who appeared in a production of Rigoletto with Alan Opie, was left without an essential service

Problem debt adds £8bn cost to the economy

A charity has calculated the cost to us all of unmanageable debt – from lost productivity to the extra demands on the NHS

Payday loan stores are to face tougher regulations after moves proposed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) call on more responsible lending

Calls for payday lenders to sign up to an officially recognised price comparison site

The regulators are at last tackling the high-profile payday lenders, but they appear to be ignoring the growing problem of internet loan firms

According to the research, only one in five customers trusts their energy company

Rap for energy firms won’t stop the rising prices

As the cold weather hits, the question of soaring bills will be felt by each of us at home

Nikki Galloway has enthusiastically embraced buying and selling over the internet

Selling goods online: The pros and cons

Nikki Galloway (above) sells jewellery via her own website as well as on Facebook, Amazon and Bouf

The city of Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu with the Remarkables mountain range in the background.

You can have it all: Asian stocks get on the dividend bandwagon

Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu in New Zealand. The country’s stock market was boosted last month on John Key’s re-election

Staff at work in the packet and parcel section of the Royal Mail's Swan Valley mail centre

Bargain hunter: Halfords’ zero-VAT child car seats are cheap and with a safety message

Royal Mail is cutting its small parcel charges from 20 October

Elderly people living in certain countries abroad are being denied pension rises

Anyone who moved to countries including Australia, Canada, South Africa and a 100 other places, have had their pensions frozen at the rate it was paid at when they left the country

Governor money plans to save clients time and cash with its online service

Simon Read: Relegate struggling funds from your plans

Every fund has good years and bad, but consistent underperformance over a number of years points to something more fundamental

Investments: Spot the difference and pick a fund that’s ready to go it alone

Nick Train thinks luxury fashion brand Burberry is one of the companies that has prospered in digital marketing

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Helpdesk Analyst

    £23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

    Senior Helpdesk Analyst / Service Desk Co-ordinator

    £27000 per annum + pension, 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ind...

    Senior Pensions Administrator

    £23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

    Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Administrator

    £25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London