03 December 2005

Book Review: Investment Biker, by Jim Rogers, *****

Synopsis

Wealth does strange things to people. It can either control them or set them free. Jim Rogers falls into the latter camp. Like an angst-free Marlon Brando, this Wild One quit his Quantum fund job alongside George Soros at the age of 37, saddled up a powerful BMW and revved his way into a personal dream.

In 1990, Rogers set out with his girlfriend on a marathon global tour (57,000 miles, fifty-one countries, two years), chasing the summer and the prevailing economic climate across six continents and reporting home in his easily adopted role of Investment Biker. The result, even after all these years, is a gloriously entertaining flight of reality.

Part travelogue, part investment guide, Rogers himself is the real centrepiece, at times railing (if that's the right word) against local custom/ideology/policy, on other occasions providing eye-opening investment tips on where the sensible money should be going. Shunning the usual tourist routes, Rogers' odyssey takes him through landscapes and economies unique in culture and currency where his natural charisma shines through in easy-going commentary. It's not all image though; Rogers' predictions on emerging markets have proved by and large to be unerringly accurate.


the bikes used in this trip, photo by Hal Kent
Review

Jim Rogers is unusual for somebody who has made a lot of money on Wall Street. He sees money as a means, not an end in itself. He therefore "retires" at 37yo but does not just sit back and spend his wealth. He picks up a motorbike (actually two, one for his girlfriend too) and travels the world for years, writing a fascinating account of what he sees and whom he meets. And he does not go to posh cities in the developed world but crosses all of China (at a time when hardly anyone did), the Soviet Union, Africa, Latin America. He takes his chances in his quest to understand the world. His political, philosophical and economic analyses are sometimes brutal, and sometimes simplistic, but he does provide food for thought. Often, he turns out to be right! This is a unique book about a unique man, and highly recommended to adventure travel buffs!

You  can read an interview that Jim gave soon after the trip to CNNMoney.

If you like this book, I recommend you also read his "Adventure Capitalist", about another multi-year trip around the world he took a few years later.



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