Impervious horrors of a leeward shore (arpad) wrote,
Impervious horrors of a leeward shore
arpad

Culture of Discussion, Investment and Russian economics

О том как Дима ругался с Джимом. (по наводке goshen)


what happened first
I am that Mr. Alimov you are discussing. In the interest of full disclosure, Rogers came to HBS class and made several insulting comments about Russia and Russian people in front of 100 of my classmates backed up by "facts" that had nothing to do with reality. When I politely corrected his factual claims, he called me incompetent and left, which set the tone for my first email. As you will see from my emails, I did not try to convince him to invest in Russia (that decision is complex and investor-specific), I simply wanted to get the facts straight. Little did I know that he would write several pages of personal insults in return. As far as facts under discussion, they are pretty well established and I addressed each of his claims in my response.


= = = = =

First message of Mr. Alimov
From: Dmitry Alimov [mailto:XXXXX@mba2004.hbs.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2003 9:08 PM
To: XXXXX@jimrogers.com
Cc: [email addresses of other recipients omitted]
Subject: The real facts about Russia
Dear Mr. Rogers:
I am the "lad" who disputed your factual claims with regard to Russia
today. First of all, I would like to thank you for speaking to us at
the Harvard Business School. I think I speak for my fellow HBS
students when I say that we enjoyed your original views and
interesting stories today. However, I must address the unfortunate
reality that your facts about Russia are plain wrong. You made three
principal inaccurate claims today - I will deal with all of them in
sequence.
Claim #1. People are leaving Russia
Wrong. In fact, according to Financial Times, your favorite
newspaper, Russia turns out to be the second largest recipient of
immigrants after the US (see attached FT article). Oops. While it is
true that Russia's population is declining but the reasons for that
have nothing to do with people leaving the country, it is things like
low birth rate (only 1.2 per woman), which is an issue that confronts
many European states.
Claim #2. Russia's production of oil is declining, oil companies do
not reinvest in production
Wrong and wrong. Russian oil production has increased for the fifth
year in a row (see attached Reuters article), and Russian oil majors
are reinvesting in production (many of them have US GAAP accounts
audited by Big Four firms you could easily have access to if you
chose to look).
Claim #3. Investors are leaving Russia
Wrong again. Equity indexes (US Dollar denominated) are trading
around their all time highs (see attached Barrons article), Russian
bond yields are at historical lows. As an experienced investor,
surely you will recognize these as pretty convincing signs of
investor confidence.
Overall state of the economy
Finally, I would like to quote World Bank's recent report on Russia:
"The Russian Federation has made remarkable progress in
tackling crisis and moving towards sustainable development
between 1999 and 2002. With a much more stable political
environment, the government has been able to build on
experience gained in the 1990s and implement a sound reform
agenda, in addition to maintaining macro-economic stability.
Since 1999, assisted by high commodity prices, the economy has
recorded strong growth, business confidence has revived, and
poverty has declined. Russia's sovereign credit rating has
improved, although it has yet to reach investment grade. The
speed and extent of recovery has taken most observers by
surprise. Between early 1999 and end 2001, GDP grew by 21
percent, inflation fell from 86 percent to 18 percent, the
fiscal situation turned around from a deficit of 5 percent of
GDP to a surplus of 3 percent of GDP, and barter and arrears
largely disappeared."
Source: http://www.worldbank.org.ru
GDP growth of 21%? Hardly a picture of total collapse, don't you
think?
Conclusion
I believe the facts speak for themselves. I have no time or desire to
try to convince you to invest in Russia. However, I do kindly ask you
to abstain from spreading inaccurate information. You are a public
figure and many people including future leaders at Harvard Business
School listen to you; it would be very unfortunate if they were
misled by your inaccurate statements. Finally, if nothing else, it
is not good for your own public image.
Kind regards,
Dmitry Alimov, CFA
MBA Class of 2004
Harvard | Business | School
XXXXX@mba2004.hbs.edu
Ph XXXXX
P.S. I took the liberty of sending a copy of this email to my fellow
students so that we can set the record straight.


Reply of Mr. Rogers
From: James Rogers [mailto:XXXXX@jimrogers.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2003 9:23 AM
To: XXXXX@mba2004.hbs.edu
Cc: [email addresses of other recipients omitted]
Subject: RE: The real facts about Russia

Thank you for coming and for writing.

I rarely suffer fools gladly and even more rarely bother with chauvinistic
know nothings, but since you sent this ludicrous canard:
[1] My goodness. Not only do you have no idea about what you are speaking,
we now know you cannot read. The "immigration study" you mention was a
bunch of estimates for the years 1970 to 1995. What the hell does that have
to do with Russia in the past 8 years? Many were forced to go into Russia
from the Soviet Republics under the Communists, but that was hardly free
immigration as in the other countries. Even if people were going into
Russia in the early 1990s, they were Russians being forced to leave the old
USSR republics as the USSR dissolved in the early 1990s and those Russians
fled back into Russia.
You have demonstrated you cannot read nor analyze nor have any concept of
what is happening in Russia today, but do you not at least know a little
Russian history?
[2] Oh my. You really should have kept your mouth shut and stopped long
ago. This is not from "Reuters". It is from the Russian government - the
same group which claims to have had a balance of trade surplus for the last
9 years. The same group of bureaucrats and charlatans who became a laughing
stock with their "facts" under the USSR. The same who say that the Russian
balance of trade in that period has been among the largest in the world. I
did not think even B school students fell for that claptrap any more. But
then you are the one who says the ruble is a good buy and that "it is a
strong currency". I suggest you check your facts on what has happened to
the ruble in those 9 years when Russia "had the strongest balance of trade
surplus in the world". And that was a period when huge sums were also
flowing in from the World Bank, IMF, etc, etc. "Inflows from the strongest
balance of trade in the world and billions from the World Bank, etc" yet
the currency kept declining. I and most others find that extremely strange.
Somehow or another the currency kept falling since most of us realized the
same old bureaucrats were spewing out the same old garbage. I guess you
were buying rubles all that time. No wonder you are in school rather than
making it in the real world. You must have gone broke buying all those
rubles.
And if Russian oil production is really up so much, why is the price of oil
still so high? So you are indeed a gullible lad, but fortunately the market
knows a lot more than you and your wailing into the wind.
You might read the section of my book about Russia's reported figures -
especially the trade figures. Or get some one to read it to you and explain
it to you.
I know you said you have driven across Russia from the Pacific to Europe,
but I'd like to know your route and which border crossings you used and who
you found out there counting all this stuff.
[3] You really should have kept your mouth shut, but since you opened it:
What balderdash. Now we know you have no understanding of markets in
addition to being unable to read or comprehend. The Russian "market" is
tiny and is insignificant compared to GNP so it is meaningless. Even your
article points out that the few big hydrocarbon companies account for 70%
of the stock market. [a] The price of oil more than doubled in the period
the article discusses and [b] those stocks went up because of that and
because of the manipulation by the oligarchs. Perhaps you did not notice
your article mentioned the "murky" dealings in Russia?
I hardly consider 2 mutual funds and 4 or 5 manipulated oil stocks "as
pretty convincing signs of investor confidence".
But if you really believe all this codswallop, why are you in business
school? Why aren't you there making your fortune?
I presume you are long the Russian stock market?
For what it is worth, I was short the ruble and the Russian market in the
summer of 1998 and back in the earlier bubble in the mid 1990s when Russia
and its bureaucrats were going on and on with the same absurdity. Go back
and look up what happened both times. Or perhaps you were long then too and
got wiped out which is why you had to go to b school.
[4] "Overall state of the economy": Now we are getting really embarrassed
for you! The World Bank also praised Russia in 1998 just before the last
collapse and in the mid 1990s just in time for that collapse. They also
wrote in rapturous terms about all the Asia Tigers in mid 1997 just in time
for the Asian Crisis [I was short Hong Kong back then too right into the
World Bank's rapture.] And the World Bank could not give Argentina enough
money in the summer and fall of 2001 because of "its progress" when I was
getting all my money out. [All this is very much on the public record so
you do not need to fret about my image.]
Need I go on? No one has ever stayed solvent much less made money
listening to the World Bank [except business school professors who
"consult" for them].
Oh dear, you get your information from the Russian government and the World
Bank!? Are you mad? I know you say you have driven across Russia, but who
do you really think is out there in those 11 time zones and tens of
thousands on kilometers of Russia collecting all this "reliable data"?
And thanks for your advice about my analysis, facts and my "public image".
If you had done your homework, you'd know the public was and is extremely
aware that I had shorted the ruble in 1998 and back in the mid 1990s [when
I guess you were long]. It was the same kind if misinformation back then
too that gullible souls like you swallowed.
And the public is extremely aware of my record of investing in many markets
all over the world for many years. You might read John Train's Money
Masters of Our Time or one of several other books. I do not worry about it,
but you should worry about yours.
But as for public image and inaccurate statements, you have demonstrated
quite publicly and vocally that you can neither read nor comprehend what
you read nor can you analyze anything in front of you and that you fall for
anything someone tells you and that you have absolutely no knowledge of
even recent Russian history. I was terribly embarrassed for you when you
stood there babbling on in front of the others about the strong ruble - a
currency which has been nothing but a catastrophe for a decade [despite
your painfully absurd statements], but now you have shouted your
hopelessness from the roof tops for all to see.
I hope your classmates will pull you aside and pass on this word of advice:
It is better to remain silent and have people wonder if you are an idiot
rather than to open your mouth and prove to everyone in sight that you are
an idiot beyond all doubt. And one should never, ever go shouting from the
rooftops when one is a total idiot because then the entire school knows it.
FYI
Editorial Review
It's the ultimate road trip. Legendary investor Jim Rogers and his fiancé
travel to 116 countries in a custom-built four-wheel-drive bright yellow
Mercedes. Over three years, they make their way through war zones, are
guarded by military convoys, observe a fifty-million-person pilgrimage, eat
disgusting food, put the car on barges for transport between countries, and
have their lives threatened at every turn. As well as describing his
adventures, Rogers has plenty to say about the economies and roads he
encounters on his journey. (Naturally, he's driven on the best roads and
the worst.) With his keen financial acumen, he picks out those countries
with the highest prospective economic success and which ones are headed for
disaster. All in all, a wonderful trip.
"If Warren Buffett and Bill Bryson were trapped in a car with each other
for three years, they might write like Jim Rogers." (B.O.T Editorial Review
Board)
You can order my new book ADVENTURE CAPITALIST [Random House 2003] from
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/index%3Dbooks%26field-titleid%3D1424139%26ve-field%3Dnone/qid%3D/102-7686484-9696912

or
800-201-3550
or on my own website if the link above does not work.
www.jimrogers.com
XXXXX@jimrogers.com



Second message of Mr. Alimov
Dear Mr. Rogers:
I see that you prefer the language of personal insults instead of informed polite discussion. Well, this is your choice and I hope this is not consistent with your sense of style – you are a successful individual (as you mentioned many times) and it would be a shame to tarnish that with this sort of attitude. Also, apologies for getting you a little riled, I didn’t mean to, nor did I expect you to. I am enjoying the discussion and would like to just rebut some of your remarks.
Thank you for coming and for writing. I rarely suffer fools gladly and even more rarely bother with chauvinistic know nothings, but since you sent this ludicrous canard:
[1] [immigration] My goodness. Not only do you have no idea about what you are speaking, we now know you cannot read. The “immigration study” you mention was a bunch of estimates for the years 1970 to 1995. What the hell does that have to do with Russia in the past 8 years? Many were forced to go into Russia from the Soviet Republics under the Communists, but that was hardly free immigration as in the other countries. Even if people were going into Russia in the early 1990s, they were Russians being forced to leave the old USSR republics as the USSR dissolved in the early 1990s and those Russians fled back into Russia.
You have demonstrated you cannot read nor analyze nor have any concept of what is happening in Russia today, but do you not at least know a little Russian history?
For your viewing pleasure, below are the actual numbers of net migration (immigration less emigration) through 2001. As you can see, there is a net inflow in every single year for the past two decades. This does not even include an estimated 1-1.5 million of illegal immigrants to Russia.

Net Migration and Natural Increase in Russia, 1980–2001
title or description

Source: State Committee of the Russian Federation on Statistics, Goskomstat Rossii
As you correctly point out, much of the immigration comes from the states of the former Soviet Union (although a very large part of the immigrants are Ukrainians and other CIS nationals). However, the fact remains that before and after 1995, immigration to Russia far exceeded emigration from Russia, which is the opposite of your original claim.

[2] [oil production] Oh my. You really should have kept your mouth shut and stopped long ago. This is not from “Reuters”. It is from the Russian government – the same group which claims to have had a balance of trade surplus for the last 9 years. The same group of bureaucrats and charlatans who
The quote below is taken directly from US Department of Energy website (I hope you at least believe your own government):
“A turnaround in Russian oil output began in 1999, which many analysts have attributed to rising world oil prices during this period (oil prices tripled between January 1999 and September 2000), as well as a number of after-effects of the 1998 financial crisis and subsequent devaluation of the ruble in August. Today, Russian oil fields are maintained using modern technologies from around the world, and many of the old command economy institutions have been streamlined. The rebound in Russian oil production has continued since 1999, resulting in 2002 total liquids production of 7.65 million bbl/d (7.4 million bbl/d of which was crude oil)--a 26% increase over the 1998 level. Accordingly, Russia is now the world’s second largest crude oil producer behind only Saudi Arabia.
title or description

Source: http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/russia.html#oil

Or do you think the US government is also lying?

became a laughing stock with their “facts” under the USSR. The same who say that the Russian balance of trade in that period has been among the largest in the world. I did not think even B school students fell for that claptrap any more.
I don’t think my fellow students deserve this condescending treatment. You should also know that my other Russian speaking HBS classmates were appalled by your comments in and after class. In addition to misstating the facts, you also characterized the country in an offensive manner. We are all rational people and are prepared to discuss the Russian economy and culture on merits (clearly, there are many negative things, particularly in the recent past) but it’s a very different matter when someone starts insulting a nation.

But then you are the one who says the ruble is a good buy and that “it is a strong currency”.
This is not quite the statement I made, but nice try at remembering. What I said was that this year, Russian currency appreciated and I stand by my statement. From 31.7 rubles/US$ at the end of 2002 it appreciated to 30.7 rubles/US$ now. I did not say it is a strong currency and I certainly don’t think that any currency is a good investment given that currencies are not interest bearing.

I suggest you check your facts on what has happened to the ruble in those 9 years when Russia “had the strongest balance of trade surplus in the world”. And that was a period when huge sums were also flowing in from the World Bank, IMF, etc, etc. “Inflows from the strongest balance of trade in the world and billions from the World Bank, etc” yet the currency kept declining. I and most others find that extremely strange. Somehow or another the currency kept falling since most of us realized the same old bureaucrats were spewing out the same old garbage. I guess you were buying rubles all that time. No wonder you are in school rather than making it in the real world. You must have gone broke buying all those rubles.
And if Russian oil production is really up so much, why is the price of oil still so high? So you are indeed a gullible lad, but fortunately the market knows a lot more than you and your wailing into the wind.
I find it amusing that you would ask this question. Surely you know that market prices are determined by many factors including demand (which, as you correctly pointed out in your speech, is on a secular upward trend), supply by other players (think Latin American and Middle East supply problems). Russia is one of the global energy suppliers and certainly cannot by itself control world energy prices. Surely you must know this?

You might read the section of my book about Russia’s reported figures – especially the trade figures. Or get some one to read it to you and explain it to you. I know you said you have driven across Russia from the Pacific to Europe, but I’d like to know your route and which border crossings you used and who you found out there counting all this stuff.
[3] You really should have kept your mouth shut, but since you opened it: What balderdash. Now we know you have no understanding of markets in addition to being unable to read or comprehend. The Russian “market” is tiny and is insignificant compared to GNP so it is meaningless. Even your article points out that the few big hydrocarbon companies account for 70% of the stock market. [a] The price of oil more than doubled in the period the article discusses and [b] those stocks went up because of that and because of the manipulation by the oligarchs. Perhaps you did not notice your article mentioned the “murky” dealings in Russia?
I hardly consider 2 mutual funds and 4 or 5 manipulated oil stocks “as pretty convincing signs of investor confidence”.
If the stock and bond market three year rally is not sufficient evidence for you, what about the fact that scores of major Western companies made significant capital commitments to Russia in the past few years? Here is just a sample of recent investments:
Pepsi $1 bn
Coca Cola $750 mln
Metro (Germany) €1 bn
United Technologies Corp. $400 mln
Mars LLC $500 mln
Procter & Gamble $150 mln
Boeing $1.3 bn
ExxonMobil $1.4 bn
BP $3 bn
If this is not a reliable sign of investor confidence, I don’t know what is. But you probably think these companies are lying, too? Or are they also being manipulated by evil oligarchs?

But if you really believe all this codswallop, why are you in business school? Why aren’t you there making your fortune?
Let me know if you desire to see my bank statements and resume, I’ll email them to you. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, maybe even compare them to yours when you were my tender age, for a real awakening. Maybe we can do the same when I am your age now, and we can revisit this cute discussion.
Rest assured, I certainly plan on continuing my career in Russia because I love the place, I am good at what I do and I will have a positive impact on the country. Surely, there are challenges and problems (name a place in the world that does not have a set of problems to deal with) but the opportunities are amazing. I find it extremely satisfying to be able to effect real change in the largest country in the world.

I presume you are long the Russian stock market?
That’s correct.
For what it is worth, I was short the ruble and the Russian market in the summer of 1998 and back in the earlier bubble in the mid 1990s when Russia and its bureaucrats were going on and on with the same absurdity. Go back and look up what happened both times. Or perhaps you were long then too and got wiped out which is why you had to go to b school.
[4] “Overall state of the economy”: Now we are getting really embarrassed for you! The World Bank also praised Russia in 1998 just before the last collapse and in the mid 1990s just in time for that collapse. They also wrote in rapturous terms about all the Asia Tigers in mid 1997 just in time for the Asian Crisis [I was short Hong Kong back then too right into the World Bank’s rapture.] And the World Bank could not give Argentina enough money in the summer and fall of 2001 because of “its progress” when I was getting all my money out. [All this is very much on the public record so you do not need to fret about my image.]
While one may or may not agree with the World Bank’s adjectives and characterizations, there are objective facts and figures that speak for themselves. Do you think that 21% real GDP growth is a sign of total collapse of the economy or do you think that the government and international finance organizations are lying about the figures?

Need I go on? No one has ever stayed solvent much less made money listening to the World Bank [except business school professors who “consult” for them]. Oh dear, you get your information from the Russian government and the World Bank!? Are you mad? I know you say you have driven across Russia, but who do you really think is out there in those 11 time zones and tens of thousands on kilometers of Russia collecting all this “reliable data”?
And thanks for your advice about my analysis, facts and my “public image”. If you had done your homework, you’d know the public was and is extremely aware that I had shorted the ruble in 1998 and back in the mid 1990s [when I guess you were long]. It was the same kind if misinformation back then too that gullible souls like you swallowed.
Every “babushka” shorted ruble during that time period; it was a highly inflationary currency.

And the public is extremely aware of my record of investing in many markets all over the world for many years. You might read John Train’s Money Masters of Our Time or one of several other books. I do not worry about it, but you should worry about yours.
But as for public image and inaccurate statements, you have demonstrated quite publicly and vocally that you can neither read nor comprehend what you read nor can you analyze anything in front of you and that you fall for anything someone tells you and that you have absolutely no knowledge of even recent Russian history. I was terribly embarrassed for you when you stood there babbling on in front of the others about the strong ruble – a currency which has been nothing but a catastrophe for a decade [despite your painfully absurd statements], but now you have shouted your hopelessness from the roof tops for all to see.
I hope your classmates will pull you aside and pass on this word of advice: It is better to remain silent and have people wonder if you are an idiot rather than to open your mouth and prove to everyone in sight that you are an idiot beyond all doubt. And one should never, ever go shouting from the rooftops when one is a total idiot because then the entire school knows it.
I will leave it up to my classmates to make characterizations in this case. Again, I will not dignify your insulting comments with a response. If you are interested in what impression your email made on my classmates, please read this sample email - one of many similar emails I received today:
“Dmitry, I was shocked by the letter that Jim wrote you. I am sorry that you had to read that. It was totally ridiculous. I thought you wrote him a respectful and well argued letter and for some reason he decided to tear into you. I am not sure who is on the right side of the facts, but I do know that I talked to the top guy at Morgan Stanley Private Client last week and he said that Russia is one of their top picks going forward. All the best, John”(name is changed for privacy reasons)

Respectfully yours,
Dmitry Alimov, CFA
MBA Class of 2004
Harvard | Business | School
XXXXX@mba2004.hbs.edu
Ph XXXXXXXXXXX
Posted by Marc at September 17, 2003 10:51 AM


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Discussion

If you're going to make a complete fool of yourself, don't do it in an email that you send to thirty people. And if you're going to call an international authority an idiot regarding his topic of expertise, be exceedingly sure that you have your facts straight.

Reader Lassen sends along the following exchange between one Dmitry Alimov, student at Harvard Business School, and Jim Rogers, partner to George Soros and rather impressive man about planet. I fear Mr. Alimov is destined to join Peter Chung in peculiar infamy.

UPDATE: Alimov has responded to Rogers and I've appended his latest email below. Given that Alimov maintains a civil tone in his response, I have to agree with the commenter who says that Rogers also doesn't come off well in this exchange.

Posted by: Ogged

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Mr. Alimov, I was at the talk and watched your original exchange. Your comments were anything but "polite". When he called on you, you began with "I want to correct your mistakes" or something to that effect. It was very condescending and insulting. Jim was invited to the school to talk because he is what he is, a very opinionated, grumpy, interesting, and funny person who made it in this world by either luck or skill. In that context, your job is not to correct people. Feel free to talk about how the person is a complete lunatic afterwards if that is your perogative. You could even ask very subtle questions in the talk to draw out your point and demonstrate that he is insane if that is your desire. That would require elegance and composure, however, and you have neither as you displayed when you came out with guns blazing. I think your reply to Jim and post here demonstrate that you are also delusional. You may be correct on the facts (though there is still room for debate if you actually listened to what he was saying), but I would never say you are "polite" or "respectful".
Posted by: John D
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Dear John D., for your reference I started my comment with the words "Mr. Rogers, with all due respect..." which I don't think is impolite. By the way, thank you for telling me what my "job" is. I realize that you have a view on how to approach people like Mr. Rogers and I respect that. However, in this case not only were his facts inaccurate, he also made insulting comments about the country which I call my home. Imagine for a second that you were in school in Europe and someone started badmouthing the US using bogus facts? Would you focus on "elegance" or would you correct that person?
Finally, if you are in fact one of my classmates who was at the talk (which I am not sure you are), why didn't you have the courage to write me directly or at least identify yourself?
Posted by: Dmitry Alimov
= = = = = =
Your redaction of the cc's is to be saluted, but let it not go unmentioned that our hero cc'd about 20 of his classmates, as did Mr. Rogers...
Posted by: Magik
= = = = = =
Dear Dmitry,
I have just come across your "constructive discussion" with Mr. Rogers. I was a little surprised to see your original e-mail. Although constructive it was not “pleasant”. But it was nothing comparing to Roger's response. To say the truth, I could hardly believe my eyes. Or is that the way a world celebrity should react to a “gullible lad” who “can neither read nor comprehend what he reads”?
I also happen to have some relation to Russian macro situation monitoring (and that is why to the issues of statistics quality too). So, the topic of your debate was very engaging. It is difficult to judge since I am not sure what time horizon Mr. Rogers refers his arguments to. But it strongly looks like he still has a 1998 impression of Russia. Looks like he does not take into account that the situation (at least macroeconomically) is very different now. It is not clear to me why would one want to take historical data (for previous 9 years) to assess future perspectives of the country that came though such a tremendous transitional shock. What relevance do 5-year-old events have to the ruble future performance without referring to the factors that determined that performance 5 years ago and discussing how they have changed/ didn’t change. His comment about oil price and Russian oil production was just marvelous! Enjoyed it a lot. I wonder how many freshman students of Economics might have said the same.

It is very nice to see that there are courageous people to challenge “legendary investors”. So, please accept my sympathy.

I never though about reading Roger’s book. But after reading that “great piece” for Roger’s response, I think I might change my mindJ It is now interesting to see what the person who could present only very weak and emotion-based points about Russia has to say about other countries he visited in his yellow Mercedes.

Regards from Moscow,
Olga
= = = = = =
Am I alone in thinking that Rogers comes off looking worse here than his critic? The critic's tone is civil. Rogers' tone is abusive and bombastic. The critic may come off looking like an idiot, but Rogers comes off looking like far worse. I sure wouldn't want to talk to the guy if this is how he reacts to criticism.
Posted by: Ted H.
= = = = = =
I'm not sure the student's tone was "civil." I think he was inarguably condescending, chauvanestic, and insulting. Still, usually in intellectual debates you show up your opponent through a good argument. You don't, as Rogers did, spend half your time on personal insults, and another quarter of the time on self-gratification. His actual counter arguments, in between telling the student he should keep his mouth shut, are few and inexact. But I don't suppose one gets exact arguments when the topic is gambling. So, I'm with you; Rogers comes off like a real jerk. But what should we expect from a egoistic, self-absorbed "capitalist" who's "making it in the real world?"

Posted by: Michael
= = = = = =
In the grand scheme of things, this story is about patience and decency, and Jim Rogers, despite being rich (so what) and famous (fame is fleeting) is quite a worthless individual. Does money determine whether someone is noble and fair, decent or brilliant? Aren't people supposed to have advanced since the Middle Ages and understood that not money alone deserves respect? What DOES derserve respect is the courage to stand up for one's beliefs and opinions. Have you done it? Do you know what it feels like to have the guts to defend your point of view? If not, I recommend you do it at least once before you turn into dust. Don't worry about the people who will get pissed at you, just do it for yourself.
Posted by: Maria

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From my favorite New Yorker magazine
REPLY TO ALL, WITH HISTORY
Issue of 2003-09-29
Posted 2003-09-22
Jim Rogers, the so-called Indiana Jones of finance, is among those businessmen who, though not exactly hard-knocks graduates (Rogers attended Yale and Oxford), feel that the important lessons for achieving success are more apt to be gleaned from, say, a motorcycle ride across Siberia (Rogers holds two Guinness World Records for travelling around the globe) than from any formal schooling, least of all an M.B.A. program. Nonetheless, Rogers, like many moguls, is a happy participant in the B-school lecture circuit, on which C.E.O.s, studio executives, and authors get paid essentially to recount their own achievements, and perhaps to promote their latest projects—in Rogers’s case, a new book, “Adventure Capitalist.”
It was during one such appearance, at Harvard Business School the other day, that Rogers, wearing his usual bow tie and employing his Alabama drawl, first encountered Dmitry Alimov, and set off a chain of correspondence that future students would do well to examine. It is a case study in making a name for oneself, or making a fool of oneself—depending on your point of view. Dmitry, who is twenty-nine, is a native of Russia and a former employee of Gazprom, the Russian conglomerate. Like Rogers, he is an inveterate international traveller; unlike Rogers, he dresses the part of a post-Soviet European (white jeans, big collars, “Armani-type stuff”), and has chosen to enroll in business school. (He’s HBS ’04.) Dmitry is also the type of business student who raises his hand a lot, as he did when Rogers hammered on one of his favorite themes—that Russia, though full of adventure, is devoid of real capital (“It’s a disaster spiralling downward into a catastrophe”), and unworthy of investment.
Dmitry stood and aired his disagreements. Rogers more or less dismissed them. So that night, Dmitry wrote Rogers an e-mail. “I am the ‘lad’ who disputed your factual claims with regard to Russia today,” it began. He identified three specific allegations that Rogers had made: people are leaving Russia (“wrong”); Russia’s oil production is declining, and oil companies are not reinvesting (“wrong and wrong”); investors are abandoning Russia (“wrong again”). “Many people, including future leaders at Harvard Business School, listen to you,” he concluded. “It would be very unfortunate if they were misled by your inaccurate statements. Finally, if nothing else, it is not good for your own public image.” He added a postscript: “I took the liberty of sending a copy of this e-mail to my fellow students so that we can set the record straight.”
Round two came the following morning, in an e-mail reply from Rogers: “I rarely suffer fools gladly, and even more rarely bother with chauvinistic know-nothings, but since you sent this ludicrous canard . . .” Dmitry was gullible, Rogers said, for believing in data provided by the Russian government and the World Bank, among other things. “If you really believe all this codswallop, why are you in business school?” Rogers wrote. “Why aren’t you there making your fortune?” He continued, “I was terribly embarrassed for you when you stood there babbling on in front of the others about the strong ruble . . . , but now you have shouted your hopelessness from the rooftops for all to see.” Rogers, not to be outshouted, copied Dmitry’s classmates on the response.
Round three, later that night. “I see that you prefer the language of personal insults instead of informed polite discussion,” Dmitry, now a minor celebrity on the south bank of the Charles, replied (again to all). This time, he affixed evidence supplied by the U.S. government as well. “Let me know if you desire to see my bank statements and resume. . . . I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, maybe even compare them to yours when you were my tender age, for a real awakening.”
Within days, the complete works of Rogers-Alimov, running to a few thousand words, had become one of those e-mails forwarded with great alacrity and mirth among Wall Street firms, British parliamentary committees, and salesmen in Korea. Typical reactions could be broken down into four categories: those from people who have always suspected that business school is a sham (“Jim Rogers kicking some B-school ass”); from the usual array of Harvard-haters; from certain fellow M.B.A. aspirants (to Dmitry: “Keep up the good work, and don’t let him get to you. You are representing us well”); and—case students, take note—from employers who have been moved to offer Dmitry a job (“If you would ever consider working for an investment bank . . . ”).
Round four has yet to be fought, although by late last week a side skirmish had broken out—copied to everyone, of course—between Rogers and Boris Jurash, an employee in the British Department of Constitutional Affairs (Boris: “I just like winding up smug-heads like yourself.” Rogers: “It is clear English is not a language in which you are proficient.” Boris: “Don’t be a twit, and stop clogging the Net”). Rogers seems to have lost interest in debating Dmitry, meanwhile, as he travels to promote his book. “I don’t know why I even bothered to answer that guy in the first place,” he said, over the phone. “Whether oil production is up five or six per cent is pretty meaningless in the context of this discussion, which was, and is, that Russia’s a hopeless place to invest.”
“My take on this is that Rogers can’t respond based on facts, because he knows his facts are wrong,” Dmitry said. “My best guess is he probably never had the chance to go to business school, and he probably had this feeling of being a little bit inadequate about that.”
“Inadequate,” in Rogers’s view, of course, is a term that might better be applied to Dmitry. “All over the world people are saying, ‘What’s wrong with this guy?’” Rogers said. “From the responses I’ve got, this makes him look like a fool.”

Posted by: Dmitry Alimov

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Surprised that Jim Rogers wasted time replying to the idiot.
Posted by: James N
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Dear Dmitry:
Good Luck at HBS, because God knows you will need it! I hope you are proud of yourself and feeling empowered, because your little "stunt" may cost you on the professional front down the road. Just not smart! While it is important to question and challenge, if you were truly interested in "intellectual discourse" your original e-mail would not have been so pathetic. I realize that you were motivated by silly nationalistic pride and some underlying insecurity. Rogers' response (whether you agree with his analysis or not) was right on! Little presumptious lads such as yourself need to be put into their place, and frankly have no place in the professional world. Not sure if you have alot to learn or are just beyond it.
So much for Harvard and the CFA designation! You are an embarrassment to both, but mainly to yourself. MBA, CFA, ASS!
EPO
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Posted by: EPOEPO / E Corbin / James N
You are pathetic bitter loser(s). If anyone is insecure, that's you. It is easy to hide behind fake names and insult someone who has the balls to question Rogers' bullshit (did you read the emails and did you check the facts???). I am surprised that this blog did not delete your comments - they have zero substance and they use the same obsene language Rogers used. That's a shame...
Posted by: Linda T
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In reply to Linda T (comment #17)
Thank You for your kind words. We apologize if we come across using "Rogers" language, but you clearly use "Alimov" language. Yes, we did read the emails (our office has been innundated with them) and we have checked the facts, thank you. As co-managers and sub-advisers to several Eastern European Private Equity Funds we know the region well and do our own extensive research. Frankly, we disagree with both of them and our research paints a different picture.

To the point:
We didn't insult Alimov's "questioning" or his "position". Frankly, it is a difference in opinions that make markets. You obviously didn't read carefully the first comment. What we do take issue with, is his approach. There lies the problem. People seem to be taking sides without regard to approriate behavior.
It isn't whether Rogers or Alimov is correct, it is about the little stunt that Alimov has set in motion, and then the continued behaviour. We don't see room for this in the investment world.
In reply to Alimov's posting of New Yorker Piece:
Not sure why you chose to post it. It doesn't paint a complimentary picture of yourself.

Posted by: James N
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