Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Market data and Jim Rogers interview

Asian Markets tanked overnight MAJOR WORLD INDICES

Hang Seng down > 3.8%
BSE 30 down nearly 5%
Seoul down >3%
Taiwan down almost 5%

Meanwhile, US Futures are looking dismal North/Latin America:

DOW down 139 points (Below 10,900 at open)
S&P down 16 (Below 1,212 at open)

The US Dollar is falling off a cliff

US Dollar index currently at 71.37 -- OUCH!


Gold and silver however are looking real good Live Market Quotes:

Gold up $11 overnight ( $984 oz) headed for $1,200 this year
Silver up $.30 ( nearing 19.50 oz) headed for $28 this year

As an aside:
I saw a video of Jim Rogers on Bloomberg yesterday that I was dying to share with all of you, but it looks like Bloomberg has pulled it already. I did however find the transcript: Rogers Calls Fannie, Freddie Rescue 'Disaster'

Jim was interviewed w/regard to his view on our government's efforts to bolster Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the outlook for financial stocks, the dollar and commodities, and his investment strategy. Warning: He held no punches!

CAROL MASSAR, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Our next guest is the man who correctly predicted oil would reach $100 and gold $1,000. Here to join us with his outlook on energy, commodities, the dollar, the credit crisis, everything under the sun, including Fannie and Freddie, Jim Rogers, Chairman of Rogers Holdings. He comes to us from Singapore this morning.

Jim, good morning. So, what do you think about what the government is doing or proposing to do with Fannie and Freddie?

JIM ROGERS, CHAIRMAN OF ROGERS HOLDINGS: It's an unmitigated disaster. I don't know where these guys get the audacity to take our money, taxpayer money, and buy stock in Fannie Mae. I mean, what is this?

If that is what they are doing with our tax money, why don't they ask us? I didn't say, take my money, my tax money, and buy Fannie Mae. Give it back to us if that's what they are going to do with it.

And what are they doing guaranteeing their debt? The people who bought debt in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can read a prospectus. They can read it. It says it is not guaranteed by the government. Anybody who can read a balance sheet knew that both of those companies were a sham and they had problems.

Now, we have to bail out the Japanese? The Japanese owe hundreds of millions of dollars of this stuff and so we are going to bail out the Japanese and the Chinese and everybody else in the world? What is this?

And it ruins the Federal Reserve's balance sheet, and it makes the dollar more vulnerable, and it increases inflation, and it drives down the dollar. Other than that, good morning.

MASSAR: Good morning. All right, so where do you think - all right. You have been very critical of the Fed and certainly some of the government moves here, Jim. So where do you think this is all leading us to?

ROGERS: It is leading to more and more rampant inflation. It is leading to a decline and the eventual demise of the United States dollar. And the FDIC this weekend used 10 percent of its assets to bail out a bank.

Anybody who has got money at Bank of America better make sure they don't have over $100,000, because 10 percent of the FDIC's assets just went there this morning.

MASSAR: Jim, a viewer e-mailed me last night, actually e-mailed Bloomberg, happens to be a mortgage banker and his question was for you. He is wondering if you covered your shorts Friday, especially in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

ROGERS: No, I have not covered my shorts. Obviously I should have, because you know they already are up 50 percent or something since then. If they go up a whole lot more, I will short more. They are basically insolvent. There is no question about that.

The government itself last week said the extra, the pool last week said that they are insolvent. Anybody who can read a balance sheet knows they are insolvent. So if they go up a lot, I will short more. If they go down, I will probably cover.

ELLEN BREITMAN, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Jim, it is Ellen Breitman here. I am looking at the Treasuries, which were little changed this morning. Now you have got the 10-year down 9/32s. Why are we not seeing more of a move in the Treasury market this morning? What should the investor reaction be on that front?

ROGERS: Well, I am short U.S. government bonds and I am short the long Treasuries, so for full disclosure, I think that most people are just sitting here confused and probably relieved at the moment and trying to figure out how this is going to work out.

But let me tell you how it is going to work out. It is going to mean the debt of the United States is going to be downgraded over the next few years. It means that U.S. government bonds are now going to become suspect down the line.

MASSAR: I want to go back to financials. So you mentioned Fannie and Freddie. Are you shorting most of the big names, be it Citigroup, Merrill Lynch? I mean, a lot of them are going to be reporting earnings this week or starting to, Jim. Do you not like any of the names here?

ROGERS: Carol, since I have been coming on your program, I have been short all the investment banks. I have been short Citibank, I have been short Fannie Mae, I am still short every one of them. I will cover them all some day, but some day is a long way from now.
If they rally, I will short some more. But no, why would anybody cover any of these stocks? They are all essentially in terrible, terrible financial shape.

MASSAR: You don't think we are getting to the end of this mess?

ROGERS: Well, Mr. Paulson said we have been coming to the end of it every month for the last year. I don't happen to agree with him.

MASSAR: What is your -

ROGERS: And Mr. Bernanke has also said we are coming to the end of it. Mr. Bernanke under oath told us before Congress that the housing crisis, that there was no problem in housing two years ago and three years ago. Mr. Bernanke under oath has been telling us for a while that everything is okay.

MASSAR: Jim, did we - I want to go back to Fannie and Freddie, if I may. I know I am jumping around here because there is a lot going on. I mean, did we have a choice though with Fannie and Freddie? I mean, they are responsible for what happened, the mortgages that are out there. I mean, could we have let them fail?

ROGERS: Carol, I know you always like to print money, you always like to bail out everybody in sight. But that is not the way capitalism is supposed to work. That is socialism for the rich. That is what that is. Welfare for the rich. Of course not.

Now, if we don't let Fannie Mae go broke and we are not, obviously, what is going to happen when you Band-Aid and put some Band-Aids on it for another year or two or three? What is going to happen three years from now when the situation is much, much, much worse? Then somewhere along the line, the market is going to hit us and we are not going to be able to do anything if we keep bailing out everybody in sight.

The Federal Reserve has already extended its balance sheet so desperately that they have trouble.

MASSAR: So very critical, Jim, of what the government is proposing to do with Fannie and Freddie. But yet, investors seem to like it and you have got the dollar moving up, so there seems to be a lot of support out there.

ROGERS: Well, of course investors in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac like it. The companies were going to go bankrupt if they hadn't stepped in to do something and they should have gone bankrupt, all the mistakes they made.

I would like to know why the people at Fannie Mae aren't in jail right now, the people at Freddie Mac aren't in jail.

MASSAR: But why is - Jim, why is the -

ROGERS: You know, a lot of people have gone to jail for fraud and scams.

MASSAR: Jim, why is the dollar up, though, this morning?

ROGERS: Well, I suspect it is because there is so many shorts. Everybody is negative on the dollar, including me, and whenever you have everybody on the same side of a trade, something comes along and you have a big rally. The shorts are covered. It is the way markets have worked for a few hundred years.

MASSAR: Are you still negative on the dollar at this point?

ROGERS: I just said everybody in the world is negative on the dollar, including me. So it is bound to rally, it could rally for another few weeks, few months. How do I know? I hope that if it does rally more this year that I will use that rally to get out of the rest of my U.S. dollars. The dollar is a terribly flawed currency, Carol.

MASSAR: Yes. And that is based on what - what about your expectations for interest rates around the world? I mean, there has been a bit of a debate now about what the Fed may do, but you have certainly seen governments around the globe raising rates to combat inflation. What is your outlook there?

ROGERS: Well, you are going to see higher rates. I am short United States government bonds, long bonds, because rates are going to go higher. The U.S. government says there is no inflation, but the rest - everybody else in the world knows there is inflation.

Most governments don't lie about it any more. They know they cannot lie about them. Inflation - the U.K. just a few minutes ago said they have the highest rate of inflation since 1986. Everybody does, and the U.K. is one of the governments that usually lies about it. So if they are saying it is that bad, you know it is really bad.

MASSAR: So, Jim, how do you think this is all going to be playing out? I mean, you are over there in Singapore, you are watching this. I mean, what is your expectations, first of all, for the U.S. and the economy here in the next, what, six to 12 months - and the markets, if you will?

ROGERS: Well, the United States is in a recession. It is going to be the worst recession we have had in a long time, perhaps since the Second World War, because the federal government keeps making mistakes. The central bank makes mistakes, the Treasury makes mistakes. Everybody keeps making mistakes.

It is going to be one of the worst. It is like Arthur Burns in the 1970s, he kept making mistakes and he had a horrible time. It's like the Bank of Japan in the 1990s, they kept making mistakes and in Japan, they still call up the '90s the ?Lost Decade.?

BREITMAN: Jim, it is Ellen Breitman again. I want to ask you a question I asked an earlier guest today, which is, when you look back over your entire career, how do this play out in terms of the level of history that is being made, Friday, Sunday, and today?

ROGERS: Well, it's a very good question and the answer, I don't think I want to give you the answer because you will probably cut me off the air. What is happening here is they are ruining the value of the U.S. dollar. They are ruining the Federal Reserve. They are ruining what has been one of the greatest economies in the world, bailing out everybody in sight.

This is a disaster for America. This is a disaster for the world. Ben Bernanke and Paulson are bailing out their friends on Wall Street, but there are 300 million of us Americans who are going to have to pay for this and there are six billion people in the world who are going to have to pay for this. And they are doing it with no authorization from anybody.

Paul Volcker said a couple of weeks ago that perhaps what the Federal Reserve has done is illegal. I would submit it is illegal what they have done and what they are doing. They are saddling all of us with hundreds of billions of dollars of debt that they have no authorization to do

MASSAR: So, Jim, if this had been another industry, take your pick, I mean, look at the woes that we have seen in the housing industry, you don't think the government would have jumped in so quickly to help out?

ROGERS: Well, I have no idea. They jumped in once before and helped out Pfizer 25 years ago, 30 years ago. Who knows? Conceivably, it depends on how many votes they think they can get. If they can buy some votes and right now, they are trying to make all their friends on Wall Street happy. But that is not good for anybody else but Wall Street.

Ben Bernanke picks up the phone every time Wall Street calls. Paulson picks up the phone every time Wall Street calls. You don't see any firemen out there in Nebraska calling him up. You don't see anybody out there with a real job. You don't see any schoolteachers in Oregon calling him up. If they did, they wouldn't take the call.

But all the schoolteachers in Oregon know that prices are going through the roof. It is very difficult for them to stay alive these days and hold body and soul together. They don't care. They take the calls from Bear Stearns. They take the call from Lehman Brothers.

MASSAR: Jim, you know, you sound so negative here. I mean, in terms of the U.S., anything you like within the U.S. market?

ROGERS: Sure. There are plenty of things that you can like in the United States market. I own - I have been buying airline stocks recently. I haven't bought any in the U.S. at the moment, but I have been buying airlines around the world. I have been buying agriculture.

I mean, America is the largest producer of agricultural goods in the world. I love agriculture, I love farmers. I wish everybody else did too.

MASSAR: Speaking of farmers, we know you love commodities. What about this commodity boom? I think recently we talked to you and or I was reading something and it said that we are in the fourth inning of a baseball game. Still there, in your view?

ROGERS: Probably around the fourth inning, that sounds good enough. Maybe the fourth and a half, maybe the top or the bottom of the fifth, something like that. The commodities bull market has a long way to go.

There are going to be corrections along the way, Carol, there always are, but no, nobody has discovered any major oil field in over 40 years. There just aren't any supplies of anything.
MASSAR: Jim, what do you make though of the arguments out there about demand destruction, about a weakening global economy and that is going to start to bring down commodities. I know you talk about some near-term corrections.

So, anything out there though that will substantially drag down commodities, in your view?

ROGERS: Well, recession, if the world goes into recession, of course it is going to drag down the demand. But remember, Carol, in the 1970s we had one of the worst decades in a long time for the economy. And oil went up ten times, the oil commodity, we had one of the great bull markets of all time in commodities because supply went down faster than demand and that is what is happening now too.

Oil can go down - you know the bull market in oil started in 1999. Three times since 1999, oil has gone down over 40 percent. It wasn't the end of the bull market. It just scared the socks off everybody, including me. That can happen again, but it is not the end of the bull market.

MASSAR: So, any pullbacks for a buying opportunity, in your view, whether it is oil, whether it is grains, whether it is base metals?

ROGERS: Yes, of course. Everything. Base metals have already corrected a lot. Wheat has corrected a lot. Sugar has corrected a lot. Get yourself some sugar, take it home, take it home from your Bloomberg.

MASSAR: Let's get back to our guest, Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings. So, Jim, got a favorite commodity at this point?

ROGERS: No, nothing really pops into my mind. Agriculture still, some of the base metals I am looking at. Some of the base metals, Dr. Nickel and Dr. Zinc saw the recession coming long before Dr. Bernanke did and they realized that there was problems. They are down 60 percent or something.

So, I am contemplating, only contemplating and only noticing that they are down. Some of these things are down a good amount.

MASSAR: What are you waiting for to buy in?

ROGERS: I don't know, some kind of signal that they have made a bottom. Some kind of panic selling, for instance. And also watching Taiwan and China on the same basis, if we could have panic selling in an old-fashioned selling climax in Taiwan or China, I would buy both of them as well.

MASSAR: You know, the CSI 300 is down 45 percent this year, the second worst performing major benchmark tracked by Bloomberg. Why are we seeing such a pullback?

ROGERS: Well, the market went up a huge amount in the previous two years and the Chinese government acknowledges that there is terrible inflation in China. They are doing their best to cut it back. They have raised interest rates seven times in the last year. They have raised reserve requirements 15 times.

The United States central bank has cut interest rates seven times. They have thrown gasoline onto a raging inflationary fire.

MASSAR: Are you selling any of your Chinese holdings?

ROGERS: No, never sold any Chinese shares. Own them all. I hope that my daughters own them some day. I think China has got a fabulous future. Selling China in 2008 would be like selling America in 1908, just as we were on the verge of becoming a fantastic, great success story.

MASSAR: So, Jim, I am guessing, and tell me if I am wrong, though, as a pullback in Chinese shares, do you see that as a buying opportunity?

ROGERS: Well, if they have a selling climax, yes. And probably the best opportunity will be Taiwan, because for the first time in my life, there is going to be peace in Taiwan. And so that whole economy, that whole nation is now going to have a dramatic change and it will be great for the world, but certainly for Taiwan.

BREITMAN: Jim, it is Ellen again. I am curious in terms of commodities, just switching back there. So much government intervention when it comes to the financials, do you think we could see any kind of government intervention when it comes to commodities or trying to talk down some of these prices?

ROGERS: Of course we can. Do you remember 1929? They passed the Smoot-Hawley Act, which led to the Great Depression, even though 1,000 economists went on record as saying you are making a terrible mistake. Politicians did it anyway.

Remember the weapons of mass destruction? We invaded Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction. Of course, politicians can do all kinds of simple, stupid things.

The IPO market has been driven out of America now because American politicians passed some absurd laws. They will probably do something. It will drive the commodities trade outside the U.S.

You know, the United States has dominated the commodities business for over 100 years. If the Congress of the United States is about to give the world on a silver platter and say; ?Here, take what you want. We are going to give you the commodities-trading business, it is going to leave America.?

At the same time, the politicians are saying pension funds can't invest in commodities. University endowments cannot invest in commodities. At a time where there is terrible inflation, they are going to say to the pension plans, you cannot protect yourselves from inflation, too bad. And I'd do that.

MASSAR: Jim, just 30-

ROGERS: It is insane, but they will do it.

MASSAR: 30 seconds left here. I know you mentioned you are kind of looking, eyeing at base metals. Anything else you think investors should be looking at, just kind of keeping on their radar, just quickly if you could?

ROGERS: Agriculture, agriculture. You should be buying agriculture. I am buying agriculture.

MASSAR: All right. We are going to leave it on that note. Jim, as always, good to get some time with you. Have a great day. Jim Rogers of Rogers Holdings.


Louisa said...

Tremendous interview. I love reading this because it is so right on - and pissed off. Good. Now when does the American Public get to that point? That is the question. This is such a monumental mess, I seriously wonder if America can withstand it -something's going to give - I think it has to. Now how long this process will take, I am not sure. Could take years. Do you think the public will finally get angry and demand change and accountability at some point in time? We'll have to take a hard look at ourselves as a country I think, before this whole period is behind us, and it could take a while.

Randy said...


Yes, people will become pissed off and demand change when there are shortages of necessities and when they can't afford to put food on the table.

American Wake Up Call!

Question is: Will it become severe enough for a "people's power" type revolt against the institution?
Depending on the severity and scale, I believe it's possible.