Street Smarts: Adventures on the Road and in the Markets Hardcover – Feb 5 2013
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"Buy it. We endorse it absolutely and enthusiastically." -Lou Dobbs, Lou Dobbs Tonight, Fox Business Network, February 7, 2013
“More than his outsized wealth and contempt for those in power, though, it is Rogers' knack for outsized fun that makes him seem worth knowing...Street Smarts shines when it conveys that zest.” -USA Today
"Street Smarts" is another great read from one of the most astute global investors of our time. With wisdom, humor, and amusing antidotes, the Investment Biker recounts his life's experiences in a manner that is as entertaining as it is educational. As an added surprise, readers may find his insight on fatherhood even more valuable than his perspective on history, economics, and the financial markets. –Peter D. Schiff; best-selling author, host of the Peter Schiff Radio Show, and CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, Inc.
"There are almost no investment geniuses. The only ones I know of are Warren E. Buffett and John C. Bogle and Jim Rogers." –Ben Stein, New York Times
“Jim Rogers makes my head hurt.” –Paul Krugman, New York Times
About the Author
JIM ROGERS cofounded the Quantum Fund and retired at age thirty-seven. Since then he has served as a sometime professor of finance at Columbia University’s business school, and as a media commentator worldwide. In 2007, he moved his family to Singapore in the belief that the 21st century will be the century of Asia. Rogers is the author of the bestsellers Investment Biker, Adventure Capitalist, Hot Commodities, A Gift to My Children, and A Bull in China.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Rogers`s perspective is always grounded on both an historic, and hands on analysis. This not only makes for an informed economic assessment, but also an entertaining read.
There are a few over all themes, that Rogers points out. Asia is a rising world power. America has several core problems, that will lead to a lessening in power. Rogers compares America`s decline, to other previous world empires. Rogers also stresses the importance of societies, that save and invest. This of course, is in complete contrast to the current US economy. In the US, spending and borrowing is publicly promoted.
The three best chapters were in regards to; bankruptcy, supply and demand, and creative destruction. These of course are very basic economic concepts. Yet for some unknown reason, these core economic understandings are understood by very few people. Rogers`s always explains economic principles, in a down to earth and easy to understand format.
Over all, most readers would probably enjoy a lot more details. The book is a rather short read. You may also find, some of the doting father stories to be somewhat unnecessary. But I am willing to bet, you will be glad you read this book.
one can't help giving him credit for forseeing how the ones we entrusted to solve the problems are the problem.
Today we are trying to digest another questionable group with the EU and Cyprus bank problems.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
* The US is declining as fast as Asia is rising.
* If you want to give your kids a good education, make sure they learn Chinese.
* The best investment opportunities are in Asia.
* The US spends twice as much on healthcare as the average nation and gets terrible outcomes.
* High healthcare and litigation costs are the major reasons why American carmakers can't compete globally.
* The fourth leading cause of death in the US is hospital infection.
* The US will go the way of Rome, Timbuktu, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Greece.
* The cure for high prices is high prices.
* Jim Rogers is always two or three years ahead of the curve.
* Because governments are debasing currencies, commodities are the best investment.
* Don't believe government statistics.
* According to government stats, there are more pets in Japan than children.
* The school system in Singapore is far superior to any in the US.
* Marco polo did not have a passport.
* Throughout history, the most prosperous societies have been open ones.
* In the US, the primacy of the individual has become subordinated to the state.
* If you want to save America, change to a consumption tax, change our education system, institute healthcare and litigation reform, and bring home our troops (from over 100 countries.)
* The only real failure is not to try; the only improper question is the one unasked.
There's more. Lots more. Some of it a bit too personal, too petty, too self-serving. But, mostly entertaining and instructive. A good investment.
According to an interview with the Reuters, it took 70 years for Rogers to do the research for this book. But writing about past girlfriends and wives actually makes me actually loath the man. Although Rogers cares about morality and in business (he mentions why he left Soros), he does not seem to have much of morality and virtue in his personal life--a fact he lightly brushes aside by saying something to the effect that "I was never what one might call "good relationship material"".
Or, perhaps, I missed out that this was part of being street-smart...
Street-smarts? The author does not reveal any new secrets to being street smart, instead of constant boasting how others are wrong.
Adventures? Instead of featuring real, life-threatening adventures, such as being held hostage in Congo or buying fake diamonds (which Rogers briefly talked about during one interview) , the book is rife with low key adventures of how to choose your home, refurbish your decor, raise your children, make sure that one educates them properly.
If you follow Jim Rogers's writings closely--as I do--it seems that, while Rogers has perhaps a hundred stories to tell, he has told them all dozens of times in previous interviews. Most of the book is comprised of such recycled stories, often with the same oddities in style that leads one to suspect that this book was cribbed together by a ghost writer.
When Rogers isn't recycling old stories, he is repeating clichés. We have all heard that India is a basket case; that the stock market was a backwater when Rogers started on wall street; how so-called experts who never visited China suddenly began talking about China; how the US is the largest debtor in history; how agriculture will grow in importance over the next decade or two; how your children should learn Mandarin; etc. None of these are new or interesting any more. About the only new things I did learn were: the name of his second wife, how he bought a house, and how he made another Guinness world record.
Where Rogers does address something of interest, he utterly fails to give the details that would make it of value. Take, for example, this passage about what professor Rogers presents to his students:
"I am going to give you companies to analyze, and I will teach you how to do it...I told them how I went about analyzing companies. I gave them spreadsheets. I had the chairmen of a couple of large corporations come in, and in each case, I would sit and question the chairman as though I were a portfolio manager, an analyst...."
But he reveals nothing to the reader about how this is done. What are the questions that he asks investors? What did he ask the chairmen of large corporations? Merely telling us that he would "sit and question them" is useless.
Entirely too much of the book is such meaningless verbiage. Among the many examples I could choose is this paragraph:
"We took up residence in a serviced apartment in Shanghai, which is similar living in a hotel. It is a setup designed for temporary but extended stays: a complete apartment, furnished, fitted out with cutlery, glasses, plates, linens, and such, and provided with housekeeping service--a living arrangement used extensively by corporations for employees on foreign assignments. You can just walk in, turn on the lights, plug in your computer...."
Really? I didn't know: a serviced apartment with a housekeeping service.
Reinforcing the suspicion that this book is not only ghost written, but that Rogers himself failed to read it, are a few inconsistencies and even suggestions of conflict of interest. In the book, Rogers gives this assessment of Russia's economic prospects:
"Any uptick in Russia's fortunes derives from the same commodities bull market that is casting sunshine on Brazil, and it will be just as temporary. Russians are currently facing the worst of all worlds. With a very low birthrate, their demographic problem is quite serious........and it is hard to see how O'Neill's hypothesis is gained any traction. In my view, Russia, which is already something of a basket case, will continue to disintegrate."
Nevertheless, about six months ago, Rogers began promoting Russia for investments. I do not know whether this was related to him becoming agricultural advisor to Russia's VTB Capital or not. But Rogers has been known to have a track record in promoting his own interests (e.g., indexes and funds). In the book, he confesses:
"At the same time, I started appearing on television, talking up commodities, mentioning the funds and other funds based on the index. The funds started growing fairly rapidly. Within three years, benefiting from my return and, inl , and, in larger part, from Tom Price's leadership - he did a brilliant job of saving things--the company had a few hundred million dollars under management"
In the end, what am I to think? Is Russia a basket case? Or should I invest in whatever groups Rogers is employed by? Or should I just assume that something has changed since his first assessment was written, rendering the book out-of-date? Or perhaps I should just take anything Rogers says about Russia with a grain of salt, as he himself suggests when he writes: "I am certainly optimistic about the changed attitude of Moscow, but one must keep perspective"
In conclusion, I would say to anyone who has long followed and come to respect Rogers, that he or she should pass this book by; Rogers' earlier books were much better. Is there anything worthwhile in it? Not much, but I did enjoy a few parts: reading about, the flight of Americans, FATCA, Singapore savings tax, the cost of litigation and a few other parts. Overall, however, these hardly counterbalance my disappointment in the rest of the book.
Unfortunately in this book, Rogers simply does not live up to his name.
I would say this book is my favorite of his books because in some sense it is the best of his thinking on all the topics he covers in his other books, and it is also an important update in view of the last five years being so important and tumultous in modern financial history.
In reading this book, my impression is that he really wants to relate his wisdom and experience with others, just for the sake of sharing.
Examples of ideas covered include, 1) What he has learned from his marraiges and by being a parent, 2) Doing the foot work of going to off the beaten path places (Myannmar/Burma, North Korea) to look for perspective and untapped investment ideas, he even eats the local food (now that is putting your money or digestive system where your verbal mouth is) 3) The importance, promise, and cultural values of societies that save and invest rather than doing the opposite, e.g. US and other western countries. 4) Looking for investment opportunities where others do not see them, e.g. commodities 5) The importance of critical thinking, and his background in philosophy and history at Yale, allowing him to see the world in ways that others do not. 6) Importantly, the emotional and physical toll the lawsuits against him took on his life, which eventually were withdrawn or dismissed after a long drawn out process.
Mr. Rogers has been a successful investor including at Quantum Fund and more recently his being short on the financial sector during its meltdown. His call on commmodities has been variably right so far, e.g. gold, however less true of other commodities; we will see if that works out the way he thinks it will, and of course no one knows the future for sure. His attitude does seem over confident and when it is not, he comes across in his media interviews with sort of a pseudo-humilty if not downright sarcasm. He also discusses in this book his view that more businesses and economies should be allowed to fail, so that they can start over anew is poorly defended and based mostly on assertion. Allowing any and all businesses to fail could cause too much damage to innocent bystanders; a better discussion of the financial meltdown can be found in "Paying the Price" by Mark Zandi. However, at least Mr. Rogers criticisms of Mr. Paulson, Tim Geitner, Ben Bernanke and George W. Bush is written in a very humorous fashion. I also am not convinced of Mr. Rogers' arguments predicting the demise of even the most prestigious American Universities.
Mr. Rogers is a colorful personality who does not need to write books and presumably has plenty of money and much to do. I appreciate his willingness to share his thinking, his experiences, and much of the book is entertaining. Moreover, there are specific investment recommendations and career choice advice that are not obvious to most people; e.g. the USA graduates 200,000 MBAs each year; Mr. Rogers explains rather than going into finance, there is a shortage of farmers and farming that is on the horizon that I have not heard others discuss. Mr. Rogers also is positive on the future of Asia and has put more than his money where his mouth is by moving to Asia and raising his children there so they can be fluent in Chinese.
While I am grateful to Mr. Rogers for sharing his thinking, I think 4 stars is a fair grade for the criticisms I discuss above. However, I think the book is more than worth reading and taking seriously.
In this new book we get a summary of the author's views and some biographical details. The book is written in a very informal style (good!) and can be read in an afternoon (less good!). I wish Rogers would go back to research and present his new ideas instead. Since there is no novel material in the book I cannot recommend it. Still the book will sell because Rogers is a brand.
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