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Street Smarts: Adventures on the Road and in the Markets [Hardcover]

Jim Rogers
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 5 2013

Wall Street legend and bestselling author Jim Rogers offers investing insights and economic, political, and social analysis, drawing on lessons and observations from his lifetime in the markets. 

Jim Rogers, whose entertaining accounts of his travels around the world -- studying the markets from Russia to Singapore from the ground up-- has enthralled readers, investors and Wall Street aficionados for two decades in such books as Investment Biker, Adventure Capitalist, Hot Commodities and A Bull In China .  In his engaging memoir Street Smarts, Rogers offers pithy commentary from a lifetime of adventure, from his early years growing up a naïve kid in Demopolis, Alabama, to his fledgling career on Wall Street, to his cofounding the wildly successful  Quantum Fund. Rogers always had a restless curiosity to experience and understand the world around him. 

In Street Smarts, he takes us through the highlights of his life in the financial markets, from his school days at Yale and Oxford --  where despite the fact that he didn’t have enough money to afford the appropriate pair of shoes, he coxed the crew and helped to win the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race as well as the Thames Cup, the first of his three Guiness World Records -- to his first heady taste of Wall Street in the mid - 1960s, and his years helping to run the most successful hedge fund on Wall Street.  As a result of his extraordinary success with the Quantum Fund, Rogers was able to retire at the age of thirty-seven.  Since then he has taught classes in finance at Columbia University, hosted television programs, and traveled the world seeing firsthand how revolutions in Chile affect coffee prices in Seattle, and how shortages of  copper in Africa affect electricity brownouts in Ohio.  

In the course of his new book, Rogers offers often surprising observations on how the  world works – and what trends he sees in the future.  He explains why Asia will be the dominant economic force in the twenty-first century – and how he and his wife and two daughters moved to Singapore to prepare his family for the coming changes..  He discusses why America and the European Union are in decline, and what we need to do to right our economy and society.  The age of Wall Street, Rogers claims, when the finance industry drove 25% of America’s growth, is over.  Tomorrow’s economy will be driven by those who make things – food, energy, goods and consumables. 
Regarded as one of the most astute investors Wall Street has ever known, Jim Rogers once again is at his acerbic and storytelling best.


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Review

"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.


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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A World Wide Perspective March 18 2013
By Patrick Sullivan TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
First let me clarify the three star rating. If you are unfamiliar with Jim Rogers`s earlier material, this book will be a five star rating. On the flip side, if you are accustomed to any of Roger`s previous economic outlooks, you will notice some overlaps.

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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars More of an autobiography Aug. 15 2013
By Eman
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is more of an autobiography to me. No real substantive investing ideas in this book. I admire how this guy has led his life! Motor biking around the world!
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4.0 out of 5 stars The real ecomomy March 18 2013
By SCP
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Loved the book. Although Rogers may seem overly critical, Chapter 8 "The Largest Debtor Nation In History",
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.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  193 reviews
178 of 186 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wise Guy Jan. 21 2013
By John Petralia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Part memoir, part investment primer, part history lesson, part travelogue, part sermon, Street Smart is all good. For me, it's the best and most coherent of the Jim Rogers trilogy which includes Investment Biker and Adventure Capitalist. I've enjoyed them all. I've also seen him many times on CNBC and before that on FNN. Despite having an annoying and immature need to constantly tell you how smart he is, I still find him a unique character, unpredictable, opinionated, irascible, incisive, and unconventional. Here's just a few paraphrased observations from this book that I found particularly intriguing:
* 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.
128 of 143 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunately in this book, Rogers simply does not live up to his name. Feb. 27 2013
By Peter Matay - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I expected much more from this book. I expected to learn something new. The book's misleading title suggests useful info to being "street smart." But instead of street smarts, the book is little more than a shallow account of Rogers' life. So, forget about any street smarts.

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.
43 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insights, Humor, Investment Ideas, Life's lessons all in one book Jan. 13 2013
By promethian man - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I have read several, perhaps all of Mr. Rogers books (A Gift to my Children, Hot Commodities, Investment Biker, Adventure Capitalist, and A Bull in China).
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.
28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Adventure Capitalist Update Dec 26 2012
By James East - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
If you have not read any of Jim Roger's earlier books, then this is as good as any place to start. In this latest edition, the adventure capitalist updates us on his permanent residency in Singapore, his daughters, his continued bullishness on commodities, and most things Asia.

The author also reminds us again to essentially always do the opposite of what central bankers of the world are doing. If you recall, in and around 1999, most central bankers were selling their gold reserves (i.e. Gordon Brown of the UK and others below $300US p/oz.). Roughly 15 years later, that does not look as too favorable a decision. Today they are printing money, leveraging their balance sheets, and buying illiquid assets. These current actions may not look too good in 15 years either.

Recognizing these monetary folks are academics with little global experience, I am reminded of Nassim Taleb's new book Antifragile where Mr. Taleb explains how many academics - Lecture Birds on Flying - and then they think they really did something when the birds get up and fly away. Think of theory in the classroom versus what happens in the real world (nature, not nurture).

Jim Rogers also has a very compelling argument on why academic tenure is tearing down our educational institutions. Though under the guise that tenure allows freedom of speech (since one can not be fired) the unintended consequences are that it makes most less likely to expanding academic research/teaching and become more concerned with internal politics and writing papers on the 3rd and 4th derivatives of some obscure discipline. Not exactly what students or the country needs.

From the 30,000ft macro and sector view, this is a good book. A few other books that may interest you are listed below:

Adventure Capitalist: The Ultimate Road Trip by Jim Rogers
Investment Biker: Around the World with Jim Rogers by Jim Rogers
Lecturing Birds on Flying: Can Mathematical Theories Destroy the Financial Markets? by Pablo Triana
Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson

Disclosure: I received a free advance copy prior to publication.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Self Indulgent Book Feb. 5 2013
By Esteban Ess - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I have to admire Jim Rogers' chutzpah, courage, and adventurous spirit as well as his success in the financial world. But, I was not expecting to have to listen to him repeatedly tell the reader about how smart he is and what a wonderful life he and his family are living in Singapore. The book is sort of like having dinner with someone who regales you with their "war stories" and list of successes. After a while, the reader gets worn down unless you like to read self indulgent prose. I would like this book a little better if Mr. Rogers would tell more of the facts about the success of China. Yes, the Chinese people work very hard. Yes, the people are capitalistic and business driven in the extreme. Even the street corner food cart operator with a small, two stool cart, works his or her butt off and finds ways to leverage up their income. But, on the other hand, the government remains communist at the core and exercises central planning in various guises. I wish Mr. Rogers had spoken more to how the government subsidizes raw materials for factories and how goods are dumped on the US market below cost. (In fairness, the USA has dumped depreciating currency on China as artificially low interest rates on treasuries will be followed by inflation in the years to come). China had to learn the businesses it now operates and it gained plenty of teachers by accepting investment and factory operational help from a lot of foreign investor companies as well as from Taiwan which has been a powerhouse in electronics and semiconductors getting its start in those areas in the late 1960s. In my opinion, Taiwan pointed the way for how well Chinese can compete if left unchained to do so. The author had little to say about Taiwan and I would have liked to have heard more about South Korea and Malaysia as well. One can gain some useful ideas from the book and can develop some alternative ways to think about the current economic crises and what causes them. Jim Rogers takes the present financial leadership within a number of underperforming economies to task (including the USA) and gives you pause to think about how you should best protect and position your assets for the rough seas ahead of us all.
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