Jim Rogers: Called Freddie and Fannie a ‘disaster’ two months ago

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The finance and investing website Money Morning has a very provocative piece om Jim Rogers today. Rogers, who has been railing against the bailout of Fannie and Freddie for some time, thinks the Treasury and Federal Reserve will fail in their attempts to reflate the U.S. economy. He goes into great detail in his interview with Keith Fitz-Gerald and gives a few tips on sectors to look at for investing.

An excerpt of the interview is below. Please go to the Money Markets site for the full article. I have also posted a video that Rogers did with Bloomberg’s Carol Massar back in July when Paulson first announced that Fannie and Freddie have a U.S. Government backstop that is making the rounds on youtube.

Enjoy!

Rogers’ candor has made him a popular figure with individual investors, meaning his pronouncements are always closely watched. Here are some of the highlights from the exclusive interview we had with the author and investor, who now makes his home in Singapore:

Keith Fitz-Gerald (Q): Looks like the financial train wreck we talked about earlier this year is happening.

Jim Rogers: There was a train wreck, yes. Two or three – more than one, as you know. [U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and his boys both came to the rescue. Which is going to cover things up for a while. And then I don’t know how long the rally will last and then we’ll be off to the races again. Whether the rally lasts six days or six weeks, I don’t know. I wish I did know that sort of thing, but I never do.

(Q):What would Chairman Bernanke have to do to “get it right?”

Rogers: Resign.

(Q): Is there anything else that you think he could do that would be correct other than let these things fail?

Rogers:Well, at this stage, it doesn’t seem like he can do it. He could raise interest rates – which he should do, anyway. Somebody should. The market’s going to do it whether he does it or not, eventually.

The problem is that he’s got all that garbage on his balance sheet now. He has $400 billion of questionable assets owing to the feds on his balance sheet. I mean, he could try to reverse that. He could raise interest rates. Yeah, that’s what he could do. That would help. It would cause a shock to the system, but if we don’t have the shock now, the shock’s going to be much worse later on. Every shock, so far, has been worse than the last shock. Bear-Stearns [now part of JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM)] was one thing and then it’s Fannie Mae (FNM), you know, and now Freddie Mac (FRE).

The next shock’s going to be even bigger still. So the shocks keep getting bigger because we kept propping things up and this has been going on at least since Long-Term Capital Management. They’ve been bailing everyone out and [former Fed Chairman Alan] Greenspan took interest rates down and then he took them down again after the “dot-com bubble” shock, so I guess Bernanke could try to start reversing some of this stuff.

But he has to not just reverse it – he’d have to increase interest rates a lot to make up for it and that’s not going to solve the problem either, because the basic problems are that America’s got a horrible tax system, it’s got litigation right, left, and center, it’s got horrible education system, you know, and it’s got many, many, many [other] problems that are going to take a while to resolve. If he did at least turn things around – turn some of these policies around – we would have a sharp drop, but at least it would clean out some of the excesses and the system could turn around and start doing better.

But this is academic – he’s not going to do it. But again the best thing for him would be to abolish the Federal Reserve and resign. That’ll be the best solution. Is he going to do that? No, of course not. He still thinks he knows what he’s doing.

(Q): Earlier this year, when we talked in Singapore, you made the observation that the average American still doesn’t know anything’s wrong – that anything’s happening. Is that still the case?

Rogers:Yes.

(Q): What would you tell the “Average Joe” in no-nonsense terms?

Rogers: I would say that for the last 200 years, America’s elected politicians and scoundrels have built up $5 trillion in debt. In the last few weekends, some un-elected officials added another $5 trillion to America’s national debt.

Suddenly we’re on the hook for another $5 trillion. There have been attempts to explain this to the public, about what’s happening with the debt, and with the fact that America’s situation is deteriorating in the world.

I don’t know why it doesn’t sink in. People have other things on their minds, or don’t want to be bothered. Too complicated, or whatever.

I’m sure when the [British Empire] declined there were many people who rang the bell and said: “Guys, we’re making too many mistakes here in the U.K.” And nobody listened until it was too late.

When Spain was in decline, when Rome was in decline, I’m sure there were people who noticed that things were going wrong.

(Q):Many experts don’t agree with – at the very least don’t understand – the Fed’s current strategies. How can our leaders think they’re making the right choices? What do you think?

Rogers:Bernanke is a very-narrow-gauged guy. He’s spent his whole intellectual career studying the printing of money and we have now given him the keys to the printing presses. All he knows how to do is run them.

Bernanke was [on the record as saying] that there is no problem with housing in America. There’s no problem in housing finance. I mean this was like in 2006 or 2005.
(Q): Right.

Rogers: He is the Federal Reserve and the Federal Reserve more than anybody is supposed to be regulating these [financial institutions], so they should have the inside scoop, if nothing else.

(Q): That’s problematic.

Rogers: It’s mind-boggling. Here’s a man who doesn’t understand the market, who doesn’t understand economics – basic economics. His intellectual career’s been spent on the narrow-gauge study of printing money. That’s all he knows.

Yes, he’s got a PhD, which says economics on it, but economics can be one of 200 different narrow fields. And his is printing money, which he’s good at, we know. We’ve learned that he’s ready, willing and able to step in and bail out everybody.

There’s this worry [whenever you have a major financial institution that looks ready to fail] that, “Oh my God, we’re going to go down, and if we go down, the whole system goes down.”
This is nothing new. Whole systems have been taken down before. We’ve had it happen plenty of times.

SourceJim Rogers: How the Federal Reserve Will Fail and the One Sector Every Investor Should Be In – Money Morning
Rogers Calls Fannie, Freddie Rescue ‘Disaster’ – Bloomberg News

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