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Commodities the 'best way to ride Asian boom'

Investment guru Jim Rogers advises that commodities such as oil, precious metals, wheat and sugar are the best way for investors to ride Asia's economic boom, particularly in India and China.

Rogers, 63, rose to fame as co-founder of the Quantum Fund with billionaire investor George Soros in the 1970s. He has written popular books such as Adventure Capitalist and Hot Commodities.

He told investors on the third day of the fourth annual Nomura Asia Equity Forum held in Singapore that the needs of fast-growing economies in Asia will push up the price of raw materials.

"India and China are only just getting started and their economies are hardly consuming raw materials on a per capita basis," he said.

Prices of commodities are widely expected to rise steeply over the next two decades as demand soars and supply cannot keep up.

Take oil, for instance. Rogers said there have been no major oil discoveries in the last 40 years, while the reserves in Alaska, Mexico and the North Sea continue to decline. Countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, which have been net exporters of oil for decades, are fast becoming net importers and boosting demand.

He said the run-up in oil prices is part of a larger commodities bull run that could last at least another seven years. Economic cycles for commodities markets tend to characterised by long bull markets followed by long bear ones, he said. Historically, such bull runs typically last between 15 and 23 years.

"If we take history as a guide, the current global commodities rally which started in 1999 can last up till 2022."

But while commodities prices have taken off in a big way, investors have been slow to invest in this asset class.

He added: "Many investors do not have a clue on commodities investing, but that is going to change when the bull run on the commodities market gets bigger and bigger".

There are now about 70,000 major funds investing in stocks or bonds, but just 50 investing solely in commodities, he said.

Still, in recent years, more money has been invested in commodities index funds which allow investors to gain exposure to commodities. It is estimated that the amount in such funds now totals about US$150 billion.


By Arthur Poon

The Straits Times, Asia News Network


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