Jim Rogers in Tokyo
I had been reading about Jim Rogers for some years but up until now I hadn’t read any of his books. In “Invesment Biker, Around the World with Jim Rogers” he tells us about his ride around the world on a motorcycle with a hot blonde half his age at the end of the 80s and beginning of the 90s.
I found the book fascinating, specially the first part of the book that explains the problems to move around godforsaken places in the former Soviet Union, crossing the border with China following the silk road of ancient times and ending up in Tokyo.
Apart from anecdotes and adventures, one of the most interesting parts of the book is that it lets you see the logic that Jim Rogers uses when analyzing the different economies that he is visiting and whether if he decides to invest in them or not. He pays a lot of attention to details of the life style of the people living in each place. For example, this is what he reflects on after seeing a golf clubs advertisement in a Tokyo newspaper at the beginning of the 90s:
“Back in January of 1990 I had predicted in Barron’s that the Japanese stock market would fall by at least 50 percent. A local financial journalist caught up with me in Japan and wanted to know what I thought about the market now that it was down from near 40,000 to 29,000 . Was it the bottom?
A day or so before I had noticed that the front page of a local newspaper printed an index of the average price of membership in Tokyo golf clubs. It had hit a million dollars. A million dollars to belong to a golf club! This sounded like a speculative bubble to me, a financial feeding frenzy without intrinsic valor.
When you see value as out of whack as this, stand back and ask yourself if something is wrong….. in real world, golf memberships can’t be worth a million dollars…”
Later he also analyzes the real estate market, being absolutly right when saying that in that moment Japan was suffering a huge real estate bubble. Houses and land prices in Japan have been declining since then.
“I said that the real state market had a lot further down to go, as it was clear nobody in the market was suffering any pain from this drop. In addition to sky-high prices for golf memberships, Japan’s real estate prices were still at cloudlike levels. The ground in which the Emperor’s palace stood was said to be worth more than the entire state of Florida!”
Very interesting read! Maybe I will read next his just released book Street Smarts: Adventures on the Road and in the Markets.