Legendary investor Jim Rogers is trying to find new ways to invest in North Korea, having dipped his toe into the market by purchasing stamps and coins from the communist state.
Speaking to investors at Skagen’s New Year Conference in London, Rogers (pictured) said his search for North Korean investments stems in part from an expectation that the country will merge with South Korea in future, thereby raising asset prices.
He said: “I am trying to find some of the Chinese companies that are investing there. They are putting a lot of money into the North. There is a black market there now; and the Russians have just opened a railway."
But with direct investment unsurprisingly difficult given a lack of capital markets and the state-owned nature of businesses such as the Russian railway, Rogers acknowledged his search is a difficult one.
Rogers praised the growing openness seen in another former international pariah state, Myanmar (formerly Burma), but added: “I am more bullish on North Korea just because it is cheap."
"There’s a whole mass of people flooding into Myanmar right now, but nobody is flooding into North Korea except me.”
Rogers’ interest in North Korea was first noted last year, when it emerged he had been buying North Korean coins.
The US businessman, who moved to Singapore in 2007 to get closer to the Chinese market, believes Asia is still on course to take the economic lead over the developed world.
However, in his London speech, he slammed Japan's Abenomics policies as “printing loads of money” and “getting into lots of debt”.
He said Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe's policies will result in a “disaster for Japan”.
“In twenty years people will look back and say, ‘My God, what happened to Japan?’ It is all going to go back to Abenomics.”
Rogers also expanded on his call for investors to look at resources likely to be scarce in future, such as agriculture and water.
But he warned investors in water to tread carefully: “When problems come they will hang you in the public square, but if you can solve the water problem they will build a monument to you in Hyde Park.”
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