Jim Rogers: This Bull’s Horns Just Got Longer
April 27, 2010
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Speaking with Jim Rogers, the natural-resources-investing guru, made IndexUniverse.com Managing Editor Olivier Ludwig a touch nervous.
Are we in the 6th inning of the big bull run you described in your book “Hot Commodities”?
It’s certainly not the 6th—it’s more like the 5th inning of a nine-inning ball game. Things are actually getting more bullish because the supply situation of all commodities, instead of improving by now, is still deteriorating. Normally you’d think you’d start to see new supplies coming, but known oil reserves continue to decline at a steady rate. The world is not finding nearly as much oil as it’s using every year.
Do you subscribe to the peak oil theory?
I have no idea. I know that known reserves of oil are in decline. There’s not much question about that. There may be gigantic amounts of oil out there somewhere, but we don’t know where. But even if it’s there, if it’s in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, that’s not doing us much good because it will take decades and staggering amounts of money for it to come onstream. I know that known reserves of oil have peaked, yes. But whether total reserves of oil have peaked, I have no way of knowing—I’m not a geologist and I’m not smart enough.
Doing simple arithmetic will tell you that in 20 years, there won’t be any oil at any price.
Given what you just said, what price range for oil is in the realm of possibility?
Well, you name it. The IEA, the International Energy Agency, did a survey a year or so ago and came to the conclusion that the world’s known oil reserves are declining at the rate of over 6 percent a year. Doing simple arithmetic will tell you that in 20 years, there won’t be any oil at any price. If that decline continues, then it’s infinity, there is no limit.
Normally what happens is prices go higher and higher, and that cuts demand for obvious reasons. It also eventually brings out new supply, whether that’s new types of energy or just more oil. So far that is not happening in a significant enough way. Yes, we have solar energy and wind energy and nuclear power coming, but none of them is coming at a very significant rate, and not enough to deal with the shortages that are developing.
Apart from oil, are there any commodities that are more prospective than others at this time?
Look at the things that are cheaper—for instance, gold is near its all-time high, while silver is 75 percent below its all-time high. Palladium is extremely cheap on a historic basis. This does not mean you buy silver or palladium, but this is where you start looking if you were looking at precious metals. Likewise with energy—natural gas is 70 or 80 percent below its all-time high—and when I give you these numbers, that’s without inflation. These are absolute numbers. So chances are, natural gas is going to have a better future than oil. Or it may not. Who knows?
In agriculture, the ones that are really depressed would be the place to look. For instance, sugar has quadrupled in the last few years, but it is still 75 percent—or whatever huge number—below its all-time high. There’s also coffee and orange juice. All of this stuff is 70 to 80 percent below its all-time high. I’m not saying prices can’t go down, but if I were looking for things to invest in, that’s where I’d start to look.
Just so you know, my lawyer doesn’t allow me to invest in individual commodities anymore. I only buy indexes now. I buy the Rogers Commodity Index, or the Rogers Agricultural Index or the Energy Index, depending on how I feel when I want to buy something. They’re based on futures. As I’m sure you know, investing in indexes outperforms active management 75 to 80 percent of the time year after year.
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