I’ve mentioned Jim Rogers before but it’s time for a presentation. He was a co-founder with George Soros of one of the most successful hedge funds, the Quantum Fund, and then ‘retired’ in 1980 at age 37, to do a lot of adventure, travel and investing.
From 1999 to 2002 he travelled around the world in a custom made Mercedes, travelling 152,000 miles, visiting 116 countries and writing about it all in a book called “Adventure Capitalist”. I think the book is a real gem. Rogers coming from a small town in Alabama has this no bullshit straight talking way of expressing himself and a great curiosity to figure out how the world really is. He has some great comments and insights on economics, politics, investing and ‘general feel’ on almost every country visits.
And yes, he did visit the Ivory Coast, here’s an audio recording I found on http://www.jimrogers.com/ :
April 9th 2000, we are in Katiola which is in northern Ivory Coast. It’s a fairly small town […] It’s a place we stopped and I, we, had a terrific evening here. You know it’s real Africa, not much electricity, you are sitting in restaurants where it’s essentially you tell them what you want and they go to the market and get it. You sit and drink cocoa beer with the local people, not much light. It doesnt get much better than this, life doesn’t get much better than this, sitting around and chattering with people in small towns about their lives, drinking their beer, eating their food and seeing how they live. Africa is wonderful – lots of places are, but especially Africa.
Sadly, I have lost my copy of Adventure Capitalist, might have to get a new one, or even better, make a road trip in the same spirit.
Garrett Baldwin: We spoke briefly about Canada. Are there any other countries that look like winners?
Jim Rogers: Well the obvious commodity countries are Canada and Australia. They’ve demonstrated a reasonable rule of law over the decades. New Zealand, likewise. Brazil has [many] commodities and is reasonably well managed, although the new government looks more and more like the old Brazilian governments that everyone needs to worry about. Anybody who’s got a lot of natural resources, [but only] if they’re well managed. Pakistan has a staggering amount of cotton, but they’re not well managed. Burkina Faso has a lot of cotton, but they’re not well managed. The Congo has a lot of raw materials, but they’re not well managed.
I used to have great confidence in Uganda, but like everybody else, power corrupts. So I’m not sure it’s as exciting as it could be. If you can find well-managed countries with lots of natural resources, you’ll do well. Finding the countries with natural resources is very easy. Get out an atlas or just ask, for that matter. But you’ve got to make sure that the management is going to be good management in the future. If you think that [a country like] Uganda is going to become well managed again, certainly by all means [invest].
Zimbabwe has lots of natural resources. It’s been a disaster. It’s more likely to be [well] managed in the future once Mugabe dies and once you have the resulting turmoil. After that turmoil, Zimbabwe might be a great place to invest because it’s been such a disaster for 30 years.
If you just replace “Mugabe dies” with “Gbagbo gets out of the way” you kind of have the essential investing case for the Ivory Coast.