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Celebrated investor Jim Rogers launches ETF

The perennially bearish Rogers will look for volatility trends, aided by artificial intelligence

Jun 21, 2018 @ 1:21 pm

By John Waggoner

Celebrated investor Jim Rogers has launched an exchange-funded fund. The most intriguing question about this news: Will the perennially bearish Mr. Rogers be able to stay invested?

The Rogers AI Global Macro ETF (BIKR), which launched Thursday, is a global ETF that invests primarily in single-country ETFs. It will use artificial intelligence to evaluate periods of volatility, which, in turn, will help it find indications of shifts in market direction.

Aiding the AI will be Mr. Rogers, who co-founded the Quantum Fund, one of the first international hedge funds, with George Soros in 1973. The fund clobbered the Standard & Poor's 500 during his tenure.

Mr. Rogers left Quantum in 1980 to travel around the world on a motorcycle, teach and invest. His 1994 book, "Investment Biker," tells of his global travels, as does its 2003 successor, "Adventure Capitalist."

While Mr. Rogers has been optimistic about Asian economies and commodities, he's been consistently bearish about U.S. stocks. In April, he warned Fox Business Network that the U.S. was facing "the worst bear market of my lifetime."

According to the blog A Wealth of Common Sense, Mr. Rogers had made similar claims every year since 2011. To his credit, Mr. Rogers did say in 2006 that he was shorting financial stocks, home builders and Fannie Mae.

The ETF's initial portfolio shows that its largest holding is a 24.66% position in iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bond ETF (SHY). This may well be a temporary liquid position as the fund gets underway. Its next largest holding is a 6.39% stake in iShares MSCI Brazil (EWZ), followed by a 3.86% position in iShares MSCI South Korea ETF (EWY).

According to the prospectus, the fund's total annual operating expenses are 1.18%, which is high for an ETF.

The ETF joins the ranks of celebrity ETFs, including those of oil magnate T. Boone Pickens, who launched the NYSE Pickens Oil Response ETF (BOON) in March, and Shark Tank mogul Kevin O'Leary, who now oversees six O'Shares ETFs.

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