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Jim Rogers: America is bankrupt

Posted by commendatori on November 10, 2008

America is bankrupt, according to investment legend Jim Rogers. “The American government bonds are the world’s last bubble and the price of commodities has to increase.”


The famous and charismatic investor, guru if you will, Jim Rogers, visited ABN Amro Netherlands last Friday. RTL Z was at ABN headquarters as well and recorded a number of statements, investment tips and opinions about the world economy.

During the seventies Jim Rogers (66) managed a successful hedge fund with George Soros. After that, he traveled and went into commodities. Click here for the wikipedia entry for Rogers.

Last Friday Rogers went at it in front of a roomful of ABN private banking clients. We had an exclusive 15-minute interview with Rogers.

The most important points:
America is bankrupt. American government bonds are extremely overvalued. “The world’s last bubble.” America is in debt for over 13.000 billion (13 trillion) dollar and adds a 1.000 billion dollar debt each year. According to Rogers this can not continue for long. Therefore, he went short in long-term US goverment bonds. “These bonds have peaked.” By the way: Rogers owns Dutch government bonds. “They are safe.”

“The fact that the dollar is gaining rapidly is only temporary”, Rogers says. “All hedge funds were short on the dollar and because of the appreciation of the dollar there is a short squeeze for the dollar. Managers have to close thier positions and they have to buy dollars instead.” “This is temporary, within a year you have to get rid of the dollar. Fundamentally it is a drama.”

Last year we spoke Rogers as well. At that time he advised us to invest blindly in commodities and agriculture. That was a bad advice, because Rogers’ commodities index (Rici) has fallen around 40 per cent last year, while ABN’s African Commodities Certificate dropped even from 11 euros to 5 euros during that time.

Rogers: “Whether oil costs 45 or 145 dollars, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that with oil, like with many other commodities, supply is decreasing while demand is increasing. In the long run this will result in a considerable increase in prices.”

“The question is not if the price of a barrel of oil will increase again, but how expensive a barrel of oil will be eventually?”

“The oil supply will fall with 6 to 9 per cent each year, according to the IAE. The demand for oil will increase in China and developing countries. This has nothing to do with economy, the market is simple. It is simply the law of supply and demand.”

High inflation
Rogers has been telling his commodity-story for a few years now. On Friday he sighed while saying: “People don’t understand that the commodity-market will be bullish, this will lead to high inflation.”

Commodity prices will be a lot higher in the future than they are now.
“The world is going to change, there is no way around it. If you don’t understand that and you don’t adapt you will be suffering in five years. The Chinese see on TV how we live in the West. They want that too! That generates an enormous demand for products and materials.”

“All countries in the world have been printing money, the United States in particular. That created a huge amount of money, resulting in the icing on the cake for commodity prices. But fundamentally you have to look at supply and demand.”

The United States
Rogers has been negative about the United States for a long time. “You should be worried, America is out of control”. The enemies of the United States are currently looking into how to profit from the weaknesses of the United States. When we asked him: Obama or McCain? he answered: “Neither of them. They are both turkeys, they take the wrong decicions.”

Bernanke or Trichet?
Rogers is not a big fan of Bernanke, the president of the Federal Reserve. With a big smile Rogers tells us: “Bernanke will continue to print money until there are no trees left in America.”

He is more positive about Trichet of the ECB. At least he knows what he is doing and what it’s all about.

Rogers is fiercely against bailing out the banks. “That has never worked. Let them go bankrupt. Right now bad-managed banks are saved with money from good banks and from you and me. After that, the failing but nationalized banks are going to compete with the well-managed banks and they gain their market share. Ridiculous. The Bail-out plan is a disaster. In 1929 we had a recession but after the government interfered, it became a depression. You should not interfere.”

Rogers: “You can make good money with stock-picking, perhaps even more than with commodities, but only if you pick the right equitie at the right moment. The stockmarket in the west is still too expensive. But the market is extremely volatile. In the five years to come you can earn money with trading ranges”.

China and Russia
“Do know know what the problem is, when at work, the Chinese people ask when they can work and what they can do. We ask how day’s off we have. That’s a big difference.”

Rogers has bought Chinese equitie in the last few weeks. “I don’t know if we have reached the bottom, but the market is low. I am a bad timer, by the way.”

“My daughter is five years old and she speaks Mandarin fluently. After the dollar has collapsed as a world currency, there is only one currency that could take over that role: the renminbi. That could happen in 15 to 20 years. Other currencies cannot take over the role of the dollar, including the euro.”

The former Soviet Union will be split up in even more smaller countries. And with that, there will be some wars.”

“In Russia you are lucky if they kill you right away. You are unlucky if they first arrest you, then keep you in prison for 15 years, torture you and kill you after that”. He joked.

“What you see therby is that the Russians take their capital abroad, while the Chinese take it home.”

City or countryside?
According to Rogers farmers have a bright future. “within a few years farmers will drive Maserati’s and all stockbrokers will be cabdrivers.”

In Holland you could have a farm with a lot of land at the moment. “Agriculture has been out of vogue for 30 years, but now it will be hot because the demand for food will increase greatly.”

“The stupidest thing you can do right now is to sell your farm and buy a house in the city instead. The housing market is in decline.”

And finally: “If a war breaks out, it will begin in the Middle East. Amsterdam will be last. I would love to live here if the weather was any better… Amsterdam should have been 600 miles further to the south!”


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