It’s always worthwhile to listen to what legendary investor Jim Rogers has to say. Recently, he offered some comments on China, Russia, the Crimea and the dollar.
He is long Russia and China, but is not investing in the Ukraine. Contrarian investing does not oblige you to invest in just any basket case.
In the diplomatic pas-de-deux between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, Rogers believes that Putin came out on top:
Unfortunately America seems to have really bungled this whole thing very badly. As you know, they’ve tried to instigate a coup in Ukraine against an elected government, and they did that somewhat successfully, but then they didn’t think through the consequences. Mr. Putin seems to have outsmarted us, Putin now is in control of Crimea, which Russians have controlled for many decades, so that’s not so unusual – what’s unusual is that America didn’t think through what they were doing, they seem to just react on a day-to-day basis, so now… Crimea is part of Russia, the Russians have more and more allies in Asia. I’m afraid America just didn’t think it through, they’ve bungled, they’ve acted on a day-to-day basis, and they’ve reacted to events instead of looking to the future and controlling events. Mr. Putin seems to have outsmarted Mr. Obama.
America failed because the federal government is incompetent:
Because we have incompetence in the State Department, in Washington. I guess they thought that they could take over control of Ukraine, which will give America more influence in central Europe and would certainly damage Russia, but in the end it seems to have strengthened Russia and has damaged America. You know, politicians make mistakes; bureaucrats make mistakes all the time. Looks like this time it was America that made the mistakes, and not Russia.
But, some people, like George Soros suggest that America should supplant Russia as supplier of European gas. That will teach Russia a lesson, won’t it?
Rogers offers a sobering assessment:
America says it could, but it would take a long time for America in order to get natural gas from America to Europe. You don’t just sort of snap your fingers and do that. You don’t just put in on a boat or plane, you’ve got to have special ports on both sides, you’ve got to have special ships, and you’ve got to have natural gas in the right place. Yeah, it could happen someday, but some day is a long time away, and if Russia stops selling natural gas to Europe – that’s going to hurt Europe for several years until American gas can come, and that if we presume and suppose that there is enough American natural gas to ship to Europe. Europe uses a lot of natural gas, and America at the moment seems to have surplus of a natural gas - will they have a surplus in five years? I don’t know. Will we have enough to supply Europe gas for many years? I doubt it.
And then there is the almighty dollar. As America sanctions foreign governments, more of these governments are choosing not to use the dollar a medium of exchange. Few people seem to be discussing how our diplomacy is implacting the dollar, so Rogers is worth hearing:
At the same time, as you know, Russia and China are now going to trade with each other in their own currencies instead of the US dollar. More and more people are doing the same thing, they’re starting to trade in other currencies besides US dollar. This is just a continuing long-term move away from the US dollar. And, I am afraid, that US is pushing people away from the US dollar with our actions.
This threatens the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. Rogers explains why it matters and why we should be worried if the dollar loses that status:
The US has been the world’s reserve currency, has had the world’s medium of exchange and so far we’ve been able to do a lot of things because we can just print more US dollars. We have a huge balance of trade deficit; we have huge government deficits, because we can print more money. If there comes a time that we cannot print money, when the world will not just take US dollars because we say “here they are!” – then that cripples America in many-many ways. The Pentagon, the Defense Department of the US has already said that the deficit in the US is a major potential weakness from the military point of view. Just recently, the space people said “every country in the world has eventually collapsed” and the way America is going, we might collapse too. This is not me, this is the Defense Department of America, and this is the Space Agency of America saying these things. If you read history, Sophie, it’s true, it’s correct. When people do not have the money that they used to have – they’re limited in many ways. You cannot have as many soldiers, you cannot have as many airplanes, you cannot send ships all over the world, because somebody has to pay for it, and if you don’t have the money to pay for it anymore, you’re in trouble.