Transcript of interview:
Louis Basenese: Bitcoin, the digital currency, gained a lot of headlines recently with everything that happened in Cyprus. Do you think an unregulated digital currency is even a remotely viable alternative to what we’ve got now with the U.S. dollar and traditional fiat currency?
Jim Rogers: Anything is remotely viable, yes. I don’t know enough about bitcoin to say anything. I just don’t understand it. But I do know that with what’s happened with technology, just in my lifetime alone, anything is possible. I’m sure right now there are a couple of 18-year-olds in a garage somewhere figuring out something that’s going to change everything we know. There’s going to be more changes. The idea that it cannot happen… No, anything can happen and many things will happen.
LB: You’ve traveled through so many countries, and it has no doubt given you insight into the similarities and differences in multiple cultures and markets. What country, or countries, do you think offer the best opportunities for the investor? What countries should we be paying attention to in the next three to five years?
JR: Myanmar is one. People are starting to pay attention to Myanmar. It’s not easy to invest there yet. North Korea is one where there are going to be great fortunes made in the next decade or two. Russia, I’m looking at, trying to figure out a way to invest. But with most people – if they even can spell, Russia – hate Russia. So I’m looking for ways to invest in those countries.
LB: When you are considering a potential asset or country to invest in, what is important? What are some of the things that stand out?
JR: It’s always different depending on what it is. If you’re looking at cotton, it’s entirely different from if you’re looking at North Korea. The first thing I ask is, is it cheap? Is it ignored? Is it something that people are not spending a lot of time and money on? That’s the first thing. If I can find something that’s changing for the good, then I get more and more excited, more and more interested, and I go further and further. So I guess the first thing you look for is [if it’s] cheap, and the second thing you look for is positive change. And then it depends on the asset.
LB: What are some factors you take into consideration when it’s time to move on from an investment?
JR: Has it gotten expensive and is there change? If you can see a negative change taking place, then it’s time to possibly think about selling. Nothing has lasted forever. Nothing. No bull market has lasted forever. There’s always a time to sell.
LB: What are your current thoughts on coal? In the U.S., it’s been a commodity that’s been vilified, but throughout the world it’s still used largely for electricity generation. Do you think it’s a contrarian investment to consider?
JR: I know that coal is extensively used – certainly in Asia and other places. Yes, it is cheap. It’s certainly gone down a lot. And the stocks have gone down a lot, so yes, it’s probably a time to be looking. I don’t think we’re going to stop using electricity, so the use of energy is going to continue.
LB: Wall Street Daily has close to a half-million readers. Some of them are seasoned investors, and some of them are younger. What’s the best advice you can give to someone who’s investing in stocks for the first time? They’re just a recent college grad, so they’re looking for a single bit of wisdom they can take with them as they start the journey.
JR: My best advice is, don’t do it until you know a huge amount. Sit and save your money, accumulate your capital while you’re learning. It always looks easy and it looks like a lot of fun, and it is – especially when you make money at first. But it’s not easy. It’s very, very, very difficult to make money in the investment world. Don’t do it until you know a lot. And even then wait, and learn some more! Stick with what you know the most about too. If you know a lot about music or sports or fashion or whatever, start with what you know.
LB: It’s only been January since you released Street Smarts, but do you have another book in the works already?
JR: No, no, well… I never thought I’d do any books. Now I’ve done six. So when I say there isn’t any more coming, well I’ve been wrong several times. I can tell you I don’t have any plans at the moment.