Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday Feature Book Review: Street Smarts: Jim Rogers 冒険投資家ジム・ロジャーズのストリート・スマート

Jim Rogers likes to travel and observe economics in action. He can do so now globally, mainly due to great wealth created as a top trader for George Soros. He sees the world with a very rare pair of economic & investment themed pair of eyes. I like his way of seeing the world. As a child in rural Alabama, he remembered a curious story about a friend telling him that if he dug a hole deep enough, he would end up in China! Luckily, he got to fly there as an adult instead, and has returned many times. Every time he visits China or other parts of Asia, he sees new opportunities. There is nothing like being somewhere right on the ground. Seeing is believing for travelers in many interesting ways.

He often sees good bets before the mass market generally. He has often been 2-3 years ahead of most trends, and that is what made him a wealthy money manager at Soros. It still serves him well today. He does not just talk, he also acts in his own personal life. He has moved to Singapore, and his 2 daughters speak fluent Mandarin. This is on purpose, it is planned, and he hopes more western parents will follow him down that road. Some of the most interesting "Street Smarts" from his Asian observations include how Japan, now has more pets than children. This is hardly a great indicator of growth or spending of its people. 

In his view, the US is declining economically at about the same rate as Asia-Pacific is rising. He sees the US as a great nation that has peaked economically, and will be replaced by a new rising star like many others before it. The next wave of investment opportunity is clearly in Asia. This may be it basic dairy manufacturers in Mongolia or nursing homes in Japan. The demographic statistics are clearly in favor of this area's success. It is the region to follow and learn from. Investment ideas are everywhere, if you have the right mindset and a keen pair of eyes. 

He does seem a bit sad at the state of US healthcare and education. He makes a good case that twice as much is spent per person in the US, than any other nation, but with poor results overall. He finds the overall level of education in Singapore to be very high, in fact higher than the overall USA. However, all city states tend to have a much better level of education than any mixed larger scale urban & rural nations. 

Borders are now open, but may start to close again in many places. Trade wars and import duties may return ending our current world of free trade. He remarks that Marco Polo had no passport and was able to travel freely into China. Great nations remain open, and grow more strong from economic influence, not less. The strong have little to fear from outside influence. The US may be close to shutting its doors even more, given the recent Donald Trump popularity of his wall. Unfortunately, this may not be good for the pace of continued innovation. 

The Top 3 Takeaways from this book that impact any reader are:

1) The shrinking demographic realities of Western nations may have some lessons to learn from Asia where the multi-generation family is the norm.
2) Healthcare in the US may be very much overpriced considering its impact. Preventive medicine and related procedures have evolved greatly in Asia, and could be a good guide for US citizens.
3) Education is not only found in books. Respect for teachers is found in any great society. This core value may be best relearned if the US is going to catch up with Asia and revive public education in future.

This is the kind of book that you want to debate over beers with friends, and reflect travels past and in the future. It helps to open a person's eyes to what really can happen in the short term versus the longer view. It is a great collection of observations of investment tips that can help any portfolio, if you like to keep your eyes open to investment worldwide. Highly Recommended!

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