Jim Rogers, the 75-year-old globe-trotting chairman of Rogers Holdings, reckons that South Korea could be a bright spot in an otherwise grim-looking financial landscape. And it’s all thanks to its troublesome neighbour to the north.
Rogers is convinced that North Korea will open up for business with the rest of the world. “The last time I visited the North, I went to market and there were hundreds of stalls,” he tells The Korea Times, “selling everything you can imagine. So they know how to be entrepreneurs.” And if North Korea does open up, then this will provide huge opportunities for South Korean businesses, he told investors at a talk in Seoul. North Korea offers “disciplined, educated, very cheap” labour and plenty of natural resources, while South Korea can provide “capital, management ability, and expertise”. A combination of the two could make South Korea “the most exciting country in the world over the next ten to 20 years”.
It’s a good thing that Rogers is so upbeat on at least one market, because he is otherwise downbeat. “Since 2008, debt everywhere has gone up a lot.” China in particular is in no position to repeat the huge monetary stimulus that helped to pull the world out of the worst phase of the financial crisis in 2008/2009. “Ultimately we are going to have a very serious bear market and economic dislocations… it is going to be the worst in my lifetime,” he said, echoing warnings he has made previously.