Maverick investment guru Jim Rogers, who has a pessimistic view on the state of developed economies and what is being done to counter the recession, is not buying into equity and commodity markets at this stage. Rogers attributed the recent run-up in equity markets to the various stimuli packages released around the world. On commodities, Rogers said he owned base metals and — among precious metals — gold but wouldn’t buy those at current levels, given the recent rally in commodities.
The long-term call on the dollar was that it would be “a disaster,” Rogers said, but added that he was positive on the Japanese yen.
Rogers, who last year shifted base from the US to Singapore, said he was long-term positive on Chinese equities. Among other emerging markets (EMs), Rogers said he wouldn’t buy anything in the Russian market, though Brazil, which was a natural resource-rich country, looked better managed now, while the Indian stock market looked expensive due to its recent rally. “Most EMs have been very strong in the past year after the collapse or the fall of 2008, most EMs have gone up a lot. I don’t like to buy anything that has gone up a lot,” he said. “I am very worried about the Western economy, I don’t think that the problems are solved in the West and if you start seeing more problems in the West, it is going to have an effect on most markets around the world as certainly some of the EMs. The EMs, which have a lot of raw materials or commodities, would probably do better than the others but again even they will be affected if we have more problems in the West.”
Here is a verbatim transcript of Jim Rogers’ exclusive interview on CNBC-TV18. Also watch the accompanying video.
Q: It has been a big run for equity markets first and foremost, what have you made of it?
A: The governments around the world are pouring huge amounts of money into the world economy. It has to go somewhere and the easiest, best way for it to go is in the financial markets.
Q: It has also concomitant with a big fall in the dollar and there is a call now for greater weakness in that currency, would you concur?
A: I am not optimistic about the US dollar long-term. In fact, the US dollar long-term is going to be a disaster. However, there are many people in the world right now who are terribly pessimistic about the dollar including me, many people have sold the dollar short, and so it would not surprise me if there were not a big rally. If a rally comes, I plan to sell that rally but I am not selling the dollar down here.
Q: What is your call on the strength that the yen has seen and the kind of a nervousness that most of those export-oriented markets are exhibiting? Where do you see it headed from here?
A: I own the yen so I am very pleased to see the yen going higher. Various things are happening in Tokyo and Japan. They are the second largest creditor nation in the world plus their government has given big incentives for people to bring the yen back into Japan. Billions of yen have been invested outside of Japan and now there is good reason for them to bring it back.
So you have a new government [in Japan], you have incentives to bring the yen back, you have the carry trade unwinding, there are many reasons for the yen to continue to go higher. I own the yen and I hope it does go higher.
Q: What about the base metals, we have seen a lot of volatile moves across most of those base metals, where do you see them headed from here?
A: Base metals have had a huge rally, as you have pointed out. I know I wouldn’t be buying the base metals right now, I do own base metals — I am not selling base metals — but I don’t like to jump on a train, which is moving at a rapid rate. Base metals have gone up a whole lot in the last nine, 10 months. So I am not doing anything except for watching.
Q: You have tracked and watched the Chinese market as well for many years, there is concern on where that market might be headed and why it is lagging the performance of others?
A: I would hardly call it lagging the performance of others. The Chinese market doubled between the fall of last year and August of this year. So it was one of the strongest markets in the world, if not the strongest. It has calmed down in the last month or two but anything that doubles in ten months should slow down and consolidate. Who knows where it is going to go from here but I own Chinese shares, I have not sold any of my Chinese shares because longer-term I am very optimistic about China.
Q: From the emerging and Brazil, Russia, India, China (BRIC) basket, what would be your top pick then right now in terms of markets?
A: I wouldn’t buy any of them. I would never buy the Russian market. The BRIC is some kind of an artificial thing, which some marketing people put together. I would not ever buy the Russian market. I own China. Brazil is a natural resource-based economy and it is being better managed these days and it has been in the past. So Brazil probably has a good future though I don’t own any Brazilian stocks. The Indian stock market has run up a lot in the last year or so. So I don’t think I would buy it either. I am not buying shares anywhere in the world as we speak.
Q: What about gold?
A: I own some gold and I am optimistic about the price of gold but I don’t think I would buy it either. The gold is near its all-time high, I think I would rather buy silver for instance if I had to buy a precious metal. However, I am not buying either at the moment. I certainly would not sell any precious metals — if they go down, I plan to buy more and maybe a lot more.
Q: How is the fund flow situation looking at least for our markets — there is a lot of appetite from foreign investors but in general how is the mood looking across that front?
A: I am not buying any emerging markets (EMs). If I were to buy EMs — I had recently gone to Sri Lanka to look at it as an EM. I have not bought anything there but the Sri Lanka market has been extremely strong in the last year. Most EMs have been very strong in the past year after the collapse or the fall of 2008, most EMs have gone up a lot. I don’t like to buy anything that has gone up a lot. I am very worried about the Western economy, I don’t think that the problems are solved in the West and if you start seeing more problems in the West, it is going to have an effect on most markets around the world as certainly some of the EMs. The EMs, which have a lot of raw materials or commodities would probably do better than the others but again even they will be affected if we have more problems in the West.