International investor and worldwide roamer Rogers (A Gift to My Children: A Father's Lessons for Life and Investing, 2009, etc.) recounts his vibrant life and provides significant insight into the financial system.
The author begins with his first significant voyage: from the Alabama Canebrake to Yale University and on to Oxford’s Balliol College, cutting a voracious intellectual swath. This leads to his first piece of advice on financial issues: At a lecture in 2010, “I explained how the study of philosophy and history were indispensable to me as an investor….It taught me to think around corners, to see what is missing…and in doing so it teaches you to doubt.” Rogers’ personal life gives considerable warmth to the story, but he is never far from investing. He explains how Wall Street requires judgment, research, curiosity and skepticism; emphasizes the importance of international investing; describes the rise of hedge funds; and examines why American universities are in precarious financial shape. Rogers started the Quantum Fund with George Soros, worked like a dog and retired when he was 37. He was disenchanted with Quantum and ready to ride his motorcycle around the world. There are numerous digressions in the narrative—boat racing at Oxford, hosting Mardi Gras parties at his New York City home, why tenure is a disaster—and an energetic survey of America on the brink, awash with overwhelming debt and no savings to fight it, the government continuing to buy “bonds on what have already proved to be losing ventures run by mediocre people.” He satisfyingly rips into Alan Greenspan, Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke and Timothy Geithner, and he offers advice on commodities and currency investing overseas. The author now lives with his family in Singapore, and he includes a sensitive portrait of that city.
A satisfying combination of serious gusto and sharp thinking.