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Jim Rogers: Knowing History Can Help Investing Decisions

Investor Jim Rogers loves history. He believes we should all know as much history as possible. “The main lesson of history is that few people learn the lessons of history,” said Jim Rogers. “I know I am not smarter than history, I know history is smarter than me, and history is smarter than most of us.”

Rogers wants to learn and read as much history as he can. He is fascinated by it. “Part of the problem is, I can say read this history book, but don’t,” he said. “Because every version of history is different. If you read a history book from 5 different countries, they are all going to tell you a different version of history. They all think they are right. They all hope they are right.” 

But, five different versions of history cannot be right,” points out Rogers. “What you have to do is read as much as you can, and then you have to figure out what really happened. You can read about the Great Depression. If you want to know about money, investing and economics, you cannot just read one version, because I assure you, if you read the Russian version of the Second World War and American version of the Second World War. They are entirely different stories.” 

In Japan, they do not teach pupils about Pearl Harbor, says Rogers. “You can be a Japanese kid, go to Japanese schools, and you will never learn a word about Pearl Harbor,” said Rogers. The US, too, gives a distorted view of history. 

“Since we are talking about investing, you have got to get as many viewpoints as you can, because no matter how many you think they are right, and everyone who invests think they are right, we can’t all be right,” said Rogers. “So, you have to get as many different viewpoints as possible. When I was more active, I used to read newspapers from five countries everyday, which was hard to do in the seventies. Now it is easy to do, you just turn on the internet. The reason I did this was so I could figure out what was really going on in the world and then make investment decisions.”

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