The setting is Jim Rogers’ mansion at Riverside Drive on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the house overlooking the Hudson and a wide stretch of New Jersey on the river’s west bank.
Three people are having dinner. They are engrossed in a conversation they take with them to the salon where they continue over brandy and an occasional cigar.
The conversation is about, say, the implications of an all out American attack on Iraq, or the shape of ‘the economy’. All three are approaching the conversation from a global perspective; all three are able to connect the political with the economical, the past with the future, and today’s delusions with tomorrow’s likely realizations.
The host, Jim Rogers, historian, philosopher and investor, is driving his two guests towards clear statements, towards explanations and predictions that may be complex but are still down-to-earth, clear cut, tangible, and even practical. His intention is to push his two guests gently but firmly not so much into high sounding intellectual positions but into statements that provide others, the viewers, with insights and instruments on which to build their own future behavior.
All of us have to deal with many, many things. But it is getting increasingly hard to deal with the repercussions of what it means to truly live in a globalized world. We all get to hear about the crisis in Argentina, the Enron scandal, the failure of the ECB to make its mark, the impending attack on Iraq or the results of the Johannesburg Summit on environmental matters. We all know these things affect us, somehow. Some of us even realize that the many connections between our individual lives and what happens in the world are much more direct and concrete than we would have bargained for. But only a very few know how to shortcut to the essence of these issues and define the alternatives and tools necessary to be able to make judgements and decisions on the level of actually coping with these problems on an individual level.
To put it differently, more and more of us have become ‘global consumers’. We either directly or indirectly (through our pension funds) invest all over the world, we support NGO’s that have a global presence, we think about where we want to live when we’re 64, we need to decide where our company will go, what our children will study, how to find co-supporters for causes that have far outgrown the level of the nation state, etc., etc. As global consumers we need to know so many things in order to be able to make the decisions necessary for our own survival.
We do know how to get at the ‘facts’ because they are everywhere: on the internet, in all those magazines and papers, on television and radio. But the more facts, the bigger the confusion, that is how it often works out for most people. How to enlighten ourselves? Which filters to use?
The media are not into connecting the dots, they are into selling the dots. The politicians are not into connecting the dots, they are into winning votes by manipulating the dots.
The aim of The Riverside Conversations is to connect the dots. It is being produced for those who are interested in how to deal with the bigger picture, how to cope with global developments. It’s produced for students and CEO’s, for members of national parliaments and people who ponder their retirement plans, it is for all who realize they live in a new, truly global world.
To be clear, the series is not going to tell anyone to invest in company X, or to buy a house at the Bay of Y. The conversations are about what bigger issues mean and will mean, about identifying and even predicting trends, about the correlation between politics, culture, demographics and economics. They take up a current issue in order to highlight the future in such a way that future action may be built on it. Because that is what we need.
The guest are selected anew for each episode. Jim Roger’s dinner guests in the first episode (recorded in New York on February 4, 2003 and broadcast five days later) are the Swiss investor Marc Faber, who operates from out of Hong Kong but flew in for the occasion, and the American Pulitzer Prize winner and oil expert Daniel Yergin, who’s office, CERA, is in Boston.
The series is based on a collaboration between Jim Rogers, the host, and George Brugmans, the producer.
While the action takes place in Mr. Rogers’ mansion in New York, “The Riverside Conversations” are produced in The Netherlands where Mr. Brugmans is a commissioning editor with VPRO, a Dutch national public broadcaster.