Jim Rogers is one of the most successful investors in American history, and now, thanks to America’s not so “business friendly” policies, runs his operation in Singapore. This morning on radio, Jim joined to radio program to give Glenn his reactions to the plan for the economy Obama laid out in last night’s SOTU address. Did Obama convince Rogers to relocate back to the U.S.?
Transcript of the interview is below:
GLENN: Well, welcome to Hour Number 3. You’re about to hear some truth. If you ‑‑ if you don’t want to hear the truth, you know, I don’t know. Watch, you know, watch ‑‑ go turn on CNN. If you want the truth here on what you’re about to enter and the truth about our economy, you’re about to hear it from one of the smartest guys. Been around and successful for a very long time, Jim Rogers. He’s the author of a new book called Street Smarts: Adventures on the Road and in the Markets. Paul Krugman says Jim Rogers makes my head hurt. So please, Jim, keep it up. The ‑‑
ROGERS: You know, one reason I did the book was so I could put that on the cover, I make Paul Krugman’s head hurt. I wanted the world to know.
GLENN: I just love that. I love that. Okay.
ROGERS: Glenn, is this television? There I am.
GLENN: Yeah, that’s television.
ROGERS: Let me put on my tie for God sakes.
GLENN: You don’t need to wear a tie, Jim. No need to wear it.
ROGERS: I thought it was radio.
GLENN: It is radio. It is radio and television.
ROGERS: Okay. Go ahead. Carry on. I’m sorry.
GLENN: You don’t need to wear a tie.
ROGERS: I know I don’t. I’m trying to bring a little class to this group.
GLENN: It’s impossible. So Jim, you’re going to be on television with me tonight at 5:00 and we’re going to kind of go over, you know, the ideas that really quite honestly the president and many in the GOP are just going right along with. And we just had Rand Paul on who, you know, he’s ‑‑ he’s got I think a plan that would actually, might work at this point. Are we past the point of no return?
ROGERS: Yes, because the debt is physically impossible to pay off. We are the largest debtor nation in the history of the world, in the history of the world. Not just the largest debtor nation in the world, but in world history. And if you take in the off‑balance sheet, Glenn, it’s physically impossible to pay it off. If everybody paid 100% of their earnings as taxes, we still couldn’t pay it off.
GLENN: I actually, I talked to some banker friends of mine who are, you know, strangely, you know, like, “You know, hey, what we can do,” and they don’t notice the slide that they are in, you know. I talked to them for ten years and they ‑‑ and it’s always, “Well, that’s not going to happen.” “Yes, it is.” “No, it’s not going to happen. They would never do that. And they just keep sliding down. The last conversation I had with one of them is they said, “Glenn, it’s not so bad. And listen to this. It’s not so bad.” How do you believe it’s not so bad? We still have the national parks.
ROGERS: So we’re going to sell the ‑‑
GLENN: Sell the national parks.
ROGERS: You know what we could do? Second sell Santa ‑‑ we could sell the North Pole, too. We could occupy the North Pole, sell the North Pole.
GLENN: It’s crazy talk. It’s crazy talk.
ROGERS: I know. It’s insane.
GLENN: Okay. So wait a minute. So how does this, how does this go from here? What are the road signs that we should look at? And, you know, people like you, you know, you can get on your plane and you can go to Singapore. I can’t go to Singapore. And most people can’t go to Singapore. And quite honestly if America goes away, I don’t know how lucky you are in Singapore. You know, who’s policing anything in the world or providing stability except dictators?
ROGERS: Well, there are people in the world who don’t think that America’s doing a good job of policing the world right now.
GLENN: No. We suck at it. We suck at it.
ROGERS: If that’s your idea, you’ve got problems.
GLENN: Right, right. But at least there is some stability. You know, there’s still some question on who wins, who fails here, at least in the minds of the average person, the average bad guy. There’s still some ‑‑ you know, I think they know we’re at the edge and just a little push will push us over and then the world changes.
ROGERS: Of course the world changes. The world changed when the U.K. ‑‑ you know, after the first world war, the U.K. was the richest, most powerful country in the world. There was no Number 2. They were bankrupt three generations later. One generation there was economic chaos because it was corroded from within. We’re on the same path. There’s no way we can pay ‑‑ you know, Glenn, right now interest rates are 0%. In America, the Central Bank is destroying the people who save and invest. You know all the people you know who save their money, who didn’t get six houses, who didn’t have ‑‑ make no down payments on their property, et cetera, they are being destroyed now. That whole class of people who saved and invested and did things right.
GLENN: So Jim, what do they do? I mean, because you’re talking to ‑‑ I mean, you’re right now eight million people and they’re listening, and out of that eight million people 1%, 2%, we probably have 5% of this audience is in a class where they can actually, you know, they can maneuver and they’ve got a lot of money. Most people are living right at the edge. What does the person do who has saved their whole life? You know, I just read something that said if you are a saver, you lose. So really the best thing to do is just pile up debt. I’m like, okay, that doesn’t sound good either.
ROGERS: That’s not good for a society. They are save ‑‑ what they are doing, they are bailing out the people who did it the wrong way. The people who did save, you’re right, they are being destroyed. All of those people are getting zero on their earnings to bail away, Glenn, to bail out the people who did it wrong.
GLENN: So let’s take my parents. My in‑laws just retired. He still has his small business. He’s an insurance agent. They have saved their whole life. She’s got pension, they have got 401(k). What are they supposed to do with it? What do they do?
ROGERS: Well, Mr. Obama last night said everything is great.
GLENN: They don’t believe him and neither do I, neither do you.
ROGERS: Don’t your in‑laws know what Mr. Obama said?
GLENN: I know.
ROGERS: He said that everything is great and the middle class is on the way back and everything is fine now. I mean, the man is delusional. I was really afraid when I saw that. The only reason I watched it, I wouldn’t watch that stuff except I was coming here to be with you.
GLENN: Oh, I didn’t watch it. So you ‑‑ thanks for watching it for me.
ROGERS: I don’t watch it either. I don’t waste my time.
GLENN: I know what he’s going to say and I know what the response is going to be.
ROGERS: But it’s delusional. It’s frightening. I don’t live in the U.S. anymore. It was fright ‑‑ I’m still a taxpayer. So I have to know something about what’s going on. But he was totally ‑‑ I don’t know if he believed it or if he was just lying.
GLENN: I don’t really care at this point. I mean, he’s either ‑‑ he’s either the best liar or he is completely delusional. I don’t know which it is, but it doesn’t matter.
ROGERS: There’s a whole crowd of good liars.
ROGERS: Up there in Washington. So ‑‑
GLENN: Right. But again, let me go back to the question: What does the average person do to be able to survive, Jim?
ROGERS: Well, that’s an extremely good question and everybody in America right now is, at least the people who saved for the future, are facing that question right now. The only thing I can urge them to do is, like your in‑law, in‑laws, put their money back into their own business. That’s at least what they know. Don’t go putting your money into some hot tips you hear from a guy on radio or TV. Certainly don’t listen to the government telling you what to do. Just stay with what you know. These are very perilous times. The government is not on your side if you’re saving and investing.
GLENN: Okay. So the idea, when you say invest in your business, I’ve tried to explain, and you’ll probably be able to explain this better than I can. I’ve tried to explain that I think the stock market is going to continue to go up because it’s meaningless, and it’s paper. And the cheaper the money is, et cetera, et cetera, that paper will go up and up and up. And so you’ll read this and say two things: One, we’re getting better because look at the stock market. We have this delusion of that that means something. But as that money is going up in your 401(k) and you’re seeing, well, I’m making more, the value of when you turn that paper in is going down. So yes, it might be worth $1,000, but your buying power, once you turn that money in, your buying power is maybe $800.
ROGERS: Glenn, everybody listening to this knows that prices are going up. Go to the grocery store. Education, entertainment, anything, price ‑‑ healthcare, oh, my gosh. Prices are going up. The government says they’re not going up. But you make a very good point. You could say you have $20,000, but the $20,000 is worth less and less and less because they’re debasing the currency. It’s an active policy in Washington. The head of the Central Bank, head of the Federal Reserve in America is dedicated policy to debase the currency. This is not good for you, me, or anybody in America except for some ‑‑ a few people in Washington and a few people on Wall Street.
GLENN: I’ve been urging people to become as self‑reliant as they possibly can, to take care of their ‑‑ make sure that they understand how fragile the food, the supply lines are, to understand that farming is going to become extraordinarily important again, to know that any way you can get off the grid and not be dependent on power from somebody else is very important. Anything you can do to make yourself free, independent as possible.
ROGERS: Well, you are doing a good deed for many people if they listen to you because there are going to be many breakdowns like that. We’re going to have serious food shortages, not just in America but in the world coming up. And by the way, as an aside, farming’s going to be one of the great professions of the next 10, 20, 30 years. You should become a farmer.
GLENN: I am. I am.
ROGERS: You have?
GLENN: Oh, I am. I have a ‑‑ I have cattle and a farm out West and I have cattle here as well.
ROGERS: I will tell you I ‑‑ when I speak to universities and students, I tell them all they should be studying agriculture. They don’t want to do it. They all want to get MBAs. But it’s a terrible mistake. They should be studying agriculture.
GLENN: Nobody ‑‑ and you said this to me a couple of years ago and it really sat with me. I’ve thought about it. In fact, I quoted you just the other day in a group of friends, that farming, nobody is studying it. And nobody wants to do that job. And it’s not just here. It’s around the entire world. And so farming has become a lost art.
ROGERS: The average age of farmers in America is 58. In Japan it’s 66. In Canada it’s the oldest in recorded history. In Australia it’s 58. In ten years those guys will be 68 if they’re still alive. Somebody’s got to go into the fields. More people in America study public relations than study agriculture. We don’t have any farmers coming up.
GLENN: Even if you do study, you know, farming or whatever, I don’t even know what they would call it now, but it becomes about environmental studies. It’s not even about how to grow things. It’s how to get man out of touching the Earth.
ROGERS: That’s true too, but some of the courses, if you go down to Texas A&M, I’m sure they show you how to ‑‑
GLENN: No, no, Texas ‑‑ no, Texas A&M, they will ‑‑ you know, here in Texas they’ll, you know, they’ll teach you something.
ROGERS: I suspect at Auburn they teach you to plow. You know, and to plant and to fertilize. There are some schools left that teach you the proper thing but not many because there are only 10,000 students, 10,000 study agriculture, 200,000 get MBAs. That’s the graduate degrees.
GLENN: So if you want ‑‑ if you were ‑‑ if you had a 15‑year‑old and they were planning their future, you would say to them what?
ROGERS: I would tell her to go into the fields and if she likes the fields or he likes the fields to become a farmer. Because that’s going ‑‑ the farmers are going to be driving the Lamborghinis. The farmers are going to be rich. We don’t have any farmers. What more do you need to know? There’s no competition. You know, and stockbroking and finance, there are lots of competition. 200,000 MBAs every year, Glenn, every year. Nobody ‑‑
GLENN: What makes you believe that farmers would be able to keep their land? I mean, if things break down, this government ‑‑ I mean, you watched him last night. He’s already saying, you know, you don’t do the environmental study, I’m going to do it for you. I’ll just, executive order. I mean, he’s going around the Constitution. He’s going around everything. So makes you think that farmers would be able to keep their land?
ROGERS: Well, it’s certainly not the land of the free that it used to be, you know. There’s no more habeas corpus. They don’t have to have a search warrant anymore to go into your house or to your bank account or ‑‑
GLENN: It’s crazy.
ROGERS: ‑‑ anything. I know, it’s just startling.
GLENN: When did you see this coming, Jim?
ROGERS: Well, I’ve seen it coming. You’ve seen it coming for a while, I’ve seen it coming, but I’m stunned at how rapidly it’s happened. I guess ‑‑
GLENN: Were you stunned by ‑‑ because you’re watching it from (loss of audio) you know, maybe I’ll get away because I’ll be driving the Lamborghini along with the farmers.