Jim Rogers is among the most successful investors of my lifetime. An early partner of George Sorros, he has made fortunes investing and managing money. From the hard money, Ayn Rand school of capitalism, like Allan Greenspan, he is best known as a devotee of a hard currency, precious metals and, above all, oil and other key commodities.
His book, A Gift to My Daughters, reads like a letter written to his children to guide them to a better a life. It is full of wisdom but much of it borders on the platitudinous, the obvious or on trite clichés: Learn history; learn languages; be open to others’ views; be honest, etc. These banalities are written at almost a third grade level.
He interlaces these snippets of wisdom with breezy explanations of his biggest, investment successes: For example, when oil was $3/barrel, any fool could see that it had to rise; he “bought oil” and it rose to $35, where he sold. He does not tell us how he bought oil. Unlike gold, you can’t buy it and stick it in your safe, and it’s not feasible to buy oil in barrels and store in it a warehouse; also, futures contracts generally price-in the foreseeable profits and are, thus, vehicles designed to make money for traders, not investors. Buying the stock of Exxon doesn’t work either, as its rarely tracks the price of crude oil with any degree of relative similarity. So, Rogers dismisses or ignores the key point: What mechanics did he use to buy oil.
Bottom line: Rogers should have made this a letter to his daughters and declined the option to market it as a book. Lee Lovett 1109