"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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
In too deep? Travel cover is among the benefits offered by packaged bank accounts

Claims firms blamed as complaints soar over packaged bank accounts

Many customers complained they were switched to the accounts without their knowledge

Finger on the interest rate trigger: the Bank of England

The best deals on personal loans: Peer-to-peer providers are more competitive for smaller sums

Meanwhile, high-street lenders continue to cherry-pick and be more competitive on larger loans

China stock collapse: Five things you need to know about 'Black Monday'

The market plummeted this week, losing all the gains made for the year

Which? warns sports fans about Rugby World Cup ticket scams

GetSporting.com offers deals that may be too good to be true

Could it be the time to focus on Japan? Some believe the country has no choice but to boost consumption and the economy will get back on track

Investors told to travel the world in the search for higher returns

Assets have risen in value across the board and volatility isn't going away. Rob Griffin asks where we should put our cash
As rising house prices push up demand for renting, so tenants are having to dig deeper than ever

Starter home initiative is urgently needed as rents go through the roof

Rents in England and Wales rose by 1.9 per cent in July to an average of £804

Peer-to-peer lending rates put Nisas to shame

The returns from P2P providers look more attractive than ever

Questions of Cash: Log-in problems turned eDreams booking into one-way ticket to nowhere

The company failed to provide our reader's flight ticket - or a refund

Hot property: business has been booming in estate agents this month, even though it’s the height of the summer holiday season

Heat rises for mortgage deals as UK homeowners sense a rate hike coming

The housing market should go quiet in August but instead people have been acting like cheap loans won't last. Do we really have to rush, asks Simon Read
Phones have now overtaken personal computers as the most used way of accessing the internet

Who you gonna call? The Complaints Busters

Unhappy customers have been given their own Ombudsman to help fight for them.

Undergraduates are being tempted with freebies by banks

Students should give freebies a wide berth and focus instead on cheap borrowing

An interest-free loan far outweighs the value of any of the bank's incentives

The Spanish carrier changed a reader's flight from Madrid – to a time before she was due to land

Questions of Cash: 'A connecting Vueling flight was cancelled and all my travel costs were left hanging in the air'

Our reader encountered problems when flying from London to Ibiza in May to take part in a charity ride

Complacency about rising rates could prove to be costly

Interest rates stay at 0.5% for now - but don't wait to get a better deal on your savings and mortgage

The years of ultra-low rates are coming to an end

The elderly are being targeted by fraudsters with postal scams such as fake prize draws

Fraudsters are bombarding older people with dangerous pension scams: here we reveal the warning signs

Many people are being repeatedly targeted by crooked schemes

Football and credit cards aren't always a good match

A football club-branded credit card could end up being a financial own goal

It may be a great talking point when you get your football club plastic out in front of your mates, but these deals aren't the best option for all fans

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

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Administrator

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are a vibrant and establishe...

    Recruitment Genius: Payments Advisor

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced Repayments Advis...

    Recruitment Genius: Investment Analyst

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of financ...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you looking to take your ...

    Day In a Page

    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935