Investor Jim Rogers says current efforts to save the banks through subsidy are misguided. He advises young people to emigrate
When asked his advice for a young person growing up in Britain, Jim Rogers, former partner of George Soros and one of the world's most successful investors, is forthright. "Move to China; learn Chinese." In an interview with us, Mr Rogers warns that Britain will go bankrupt if the Government continues to follow its present policy of attempting to save the banks through subsidy and nationalisation.
He has sold all his sterling assets and has "no position" in sterling, but Mr Rogers reveals that he had been planning to short-sell sterling in the present financial crisis, before recent disparaging remarks about the pound's prospects from his own lips had put paid to those plans. "I should have kept my mouth shut."
Mr Rogers had in mind a repeat of his previous coup, when he and Mr Soros's Quantum Fund famously "broke" the Bank of England in 1992, when sterling was forced out of the European exchange rate mechanism, costing UK taxpayers $1bn and making Mr Soros and Mr Rogers correspondingly wealthier.
Sterling is at a 10-year low against the dollar, and Mr Rogers is confident that it will fall to below its previous nadirs, though he has "no idea" where that floor may eventually be. His message is blunt: we used to have North Sea oil and the City of London, but now "you don't have anything to sell…it's a terrible shame".
Mr Rogers is still more forthright in his advice to the Prime Minister, who he urges to resign, but not before abolishing the Bank of England. "They are the ones printing all this money," he said. "Central bankers are not gods or geniuses; why does anyone think they are?"
The US Federal Reserve, Mr Rogers thinks, is also on the road to bankruptcy, and he points out that the US has already had three central banks in its history. Instead, the Singapore-based billionaire urges the UK authorities to take the radical step of allowing the commercial banks to fail. He cites the example of South Korea, Russia and other nations where such financial violence was followed by a renewed burst of growth and prosperity, in a relatively short space of time.
In the overwhelmingly likely event of Mervyn King and Gordon Brown ignoring Mr Rogers' advice, the "crushing" burden of debt and of taxation to service that debt will bankrupt the UK, "technically or de facto", with a "terrible" inflation to follow.
A colourful figure, Mr Rogers was born in Alabama and educated at Yale and Oxford. He has made it into Guinness World Records for some of his epic motorcycle journeys. He began collaborating with George Soros in the Seventies and more recently has specialised in commodities. In 2007, at the age of 63, he drew some attention for his decision to move from New York to Singapore, declaring that "moving to Asia now is like moving to New York City in 1907".