This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, July 1, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Political adjustments are being made in China (search). Does that mean that your money will suffer over here?
William Gamble is author of Investing in China. He says that Americans doing business there don’t know what they’re getting into. Putting your money to work over there is a bad idea, he says.
Jim Rogers doesn’t quite agree. Jim, of course, the president of Jimrogers.com, says that you would be a fool not to dabble at least some money in the most potentially the world’s lucrative markets.
So, Jim, you’re saying all this fear is for nothing.
JIM ROGERS, PRESIDENT, JIMROGERS.COM: They call themselves communists, but they’re the best capitalists in the world right now. They’re booming. They’re the most rapidly growing country in the past 20 years, and it’s just getting started.
CAVUTO: William, what’s your problem with this country?
WILLIAM GAMBLE, AUTHOR, INVESTING IN CHINA: Well, it’s all about the numbers. Before you make any investment, you have to be sure that you know what the numbers are.
The problem in China is that’s totally unknown. It’s like investing in Enron or WorldCom. You look at these dot-coms, the numbers could be totally skewed, including its growth rate.
ROGERS: Well, you’re exactly right, Mr. Williams. Look at America. Our numbers aren’t very good either. I don’t trust the numbers that come out of the U.S. government any more than I trust the numbers that come out of the Chinese government, but I can see what’s going on the ground. A hundred years ago, you would have said exactly the same things about the U.S., and you would have stayed away, and you would have been dead wrong.
CAVUTO: William, how do you play this, though, when you’ve got a power struggle going on, and Zemin right now is in a bit of his own internal struggle there, the young Turks in that government, which, I guess, is anyone under a hundred, is making moves, and no one knows who’s gong to come out on top. What do you do?
GAMBLE: Well, first of all, I would avoid the whole thing because it’s impossible to get information about any particular company.
For example, in America, we have economic incentives and legal disincentives to encourage telling the truth. In the China the legal disincentives do not exist, and there are enormous economic incentives to warp the numbers.
So it may or may not matter which person is on top. The real point is you have to look at the particular investment and try to determine whether or not you’re getting accurate information, and the odds are that you’re not.
CAVUTO: But Jim’s point is that obviously, someone’s been making money there, maybe Jim included. So something’s going right.
ROGERS: But that’s exactly the point. You have to do your homework, but that’s true of investing in the United States or Japan or Germany or anywhere else in the world. You’ve got to do your homework. You’ve got to be involved with good people. If you don’t, stay away. From what you say, you wouldn’t even invest in the United States.
CAVUTO: So what are you buying over there? I mean this is -- well, some of your international picks, more to the point, but...
ROGERS: Oh, well, there are companies that are doing well there. I don’t own them because of what they’re doing in China. These are companies which are doing well in China.
CAVUTO: And why do you think they’re well?
ROGERS: Well, partly because they went in there with good partners. They went in there, and they were willing to stay the length. You know, it’s not easy getting into a new country.
The people who came to America a hundred years ago to go into business here lost their shirts, most of them, for the first 10 or 20 years. Sure. That’s going to happen in China, too, but, in the end, it will be a great place to be.
CAVUTO: William Gamble, it’s a gamble when you go there, right? So why not just recognize the fact that investors who got into things like the China fund a few years ago, despite some rocky quarters -- they’re up a lot more appreciably than the -- than our Dow or S&P has been up.
GAMBLE: There’s no question it is a gamble. The question is the level of risk -- what I’m saying is that the legal risks should be taken into account in terms of analyzing whether or not you’re going to make money.
If the legal risk is exceptionally high, there’s an enormous possibility that you will lose money. Now, if there’s a high possibility of losing money, the investment horizon’s shortened enormously.
So, yes, you can make money but only for a short period of time.
CAVUTO: Jim Rogers.
ROGERS: Mr. Gamble, if a hundred years ago, if you’d come here with the same criteria, you would not have put your money here. You would have taken it out after a year or two or three, and this became the richest...
CAVUTO: But he’s saying why do you have to wait 20 years for that, though?
ROGERS: Oh, you don’t. Well, once you’ve made a lot of money, if you bought Coca-Cola in 1903, you’d be stinking rich right now. You’ve got to be careful.
On your criteria, we would never invest in Africa. We would never invest in South America. We would never invest in the subcontinent. Where are we going to invest? There’s no place. Even America’s not good under your criteria.
CAVUTO: William Gamble, quick counter.
GAMBLE: In America, you have laws that protect investors, and a lot of...
CAVUTO: Well, they haven’t done a great job of late, you know.
GAMBLE: Well, at least they exist.
CAVUTO: All right.
GAMBLE: I mean, do I want a choice between absolutely no laws or potentially flawed laws? In any boom market, you’re going to get aberrations because the economic incentives are too high to prevent people from actually getting their hands on the pot.
CAVUTO: I’m sorry. We’re out of time, guys.
William Gamble, I want to thank you very much.
Jim Rogers, good seeing you again.