Sunday, October 13, 2013
Jim Rogers: Skip the MBA, get an agriculture degree
Jim Rogers believes the finance industry is about to slip into secular decline. That's why the famed investor advises young people to pursue careers in farming rather than in finance.
"If you've got young people who don't know what to do, I'd urge them not to get MBAs, but to get agriculture degrees," Rogers told CNBC.com.
That's because the financial commentator and author of "Street Smarts: Adventures on the Road and in the Markets" is bearish about the entire financial field.
"Finance has been good the past 30 years, but it was not good the 30 years before that, and it's happening again," Rogers said. "Finance is in decline. In the future, the center of the world will not be finance—it's going to be the producers of real goods."
Economist Robert Shiller recently raised the related question of whether the "best and the brightest" are doing to the world a disservice by going into finance. In a September column in Project Syndicate, the Yale economics professor asked: "Are too many of our most talented people choosing career in finance—and, more specifically, in trading, speculating, and other allegedly 'unproductive' activities?"
After all, there is a good argument that the agriculture field will present more compelling problems to solve.
"We are going to be trying to feed 9 billion people by 2050 with the same number of acres of arable land," said Timothy Burcham, dean of agriculture and technology at Arkansas State University. Calling that task "overwhelming," Burcham notes that "the opportunities for a person that has a graduate degree in agriculture are great now, but they are going to be really, really excellent going into the future."
Rogers is factoring the expected rise of the agriculture industry into his investing thesis. "Recently, I've been looking at agriculture stocks," Rogers said. "I've been excited about looking for things to buy in agriculture."
And in a late Wednesday telephone interview from Singapore, Rogers' prediction even took on a personal tone. He advised this writer: "Pursue an agriculture degree, and you'll be rich."