"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.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
All the signs have been pointing up for buy-to-let, but there are clouds on the horizon

Buy-to-let: is it a boom or a bubble fit to burst?

People borrowing to be landlords could face the same restrictions as homebuyers, with MPs voicing fears that property speculation may be overheating the market

Moment of truth for payday lenders: Watchdog plans to curb cost of short-term loans

The chief of the City watchdog, Martin Wheatley, spoke exclusively to The Independent's Simon Read about its attempts to control the worst excesses of unscrupulous high-cost credit companies

Consumers given power to choose a green deal

How would you like to be able to choose how your electricity is made and even where it come from? It may sound futuristic and fanciful but the independent supplier Co-operative Energy has made it a reality this week.

'Scrap the trap': calls for change grow as banks are told to play fair with loyal savers

City regulator says existing customers suffer worst rates

Motor insurers divided on proposals for whiplash ban

MPs want medical evidence for claims. Will this bring higher premiums?

British Gas repays £1m for mis-sold deals

British Gas was yesterday forced to pay back £1m to its customers after mis-selling them energy deals.

Bare necessities of life cost a pensioner £10,000

Pensioners now have to spend £10,387 a year on basic necessities such as food and fuel. new figures published today reveal.

Six months since its introduction, Obamacare has set market's pulse racing

As America's health reforms take effect, some firms look well placed to benefit, says Simon Read

Holidaymakers warned over hidden charges when opting to pay in sterling abroad

Fresh warnings emerged this week that overseas retailers and hotels aren't playing fair.

Employees will be able to request flexible hours in drive to make workplaces family friendly

From next week employees will be able to request changes to working hours. Rob Griffin weighs up the options

E2Energy's wind-turbine scheme offers green investors 7.5 per cent a year

If you're fed up with paltry returns on your savings and are interested in green energy, a new loan-based crowdfund launched this week could be a better home for your cash.

Why miss the chance of tax-free returns as Isas raise their game?

The tax-free limit of £15,000 is a big jump and rates for savers are starting to edge up, writes Simon Read
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

    Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

    £850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

    Business Analyst (Agile, SDLC, software)

    £45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    Finance Manager - Bank - Leeds - £300/day

    £250 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Finance Manager - Accountant - Bank...

    Compliance Officer - CF10, CF11, Compliance Oversight, AML, FX

    £100000 - £120000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fi...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn