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Faber urges the Swiss to “go east”

Shanghai is booming Keystone Archive

Marc Faber says today’s entrepreneurs should pack their bags and head to the Far East if they want to make it big.

On a more personal note, the Swiss investment guru admits that he has made his fair share of mistakes when it comes to making investments.

But he claims to lose little sleep, despite taking some big hits over the years.

swissinfo: I think we’re all familiar with the advice: “Go west, young man.” But the opportunities clearly seem to be in the opposite direction, whether it’s eastern Europe or the Far East.

M.F.: There are tremendous opportunities. If I were a Swiss and I really had the drive, I would move out to the Far East, either to Shanghai or to Ulan Bator or Bangalore or to Mumbai or Delhi or Ho Chi Min City and would start work there.

swissinfo: But just how difficult is it for a Swiss company or entrepreneur to go to China, for example, because we hear that there are barriers to doing business?

M.F.: I think that to be fair it’s probably easier for a Swiss company to do business in China than any foreign company to do business in Switzerland.

swissinfo: Why?

M.F.: In China, there aren’t as many regulations and foreigners are basically welcome. Until recently you had to go into China with a joint venture partner but in recent years the rules have changed. You can have a 100 per cent owned enterprise in China and carry out business.

There are different rules if that business is for the local market or for exports, but in general I believe it’s much easier and much faster if you or I decided to go and set up business in China than it would be for us in Asia to set up a business in Switzerland. And it’s much cheaper.

swissinfo: On a more personal note, you’re known as a financial guru, an investment adviser. Have you ever got it wrong?

M.F.: If someone was nasty, he could write a book about all the wrong things I’ve written and said in the course of the last 30 years. Of course, you make really bad mistakes over time… I think that every businessman must realise that no matter how carefully you analyse a situation, you will always make mistakes. The key is that when you make a mistake you write it off and move on and don’t think for the rest of your life about the mistakes you made but look at the future opportunities.

swissinfo: Have you ever lost sleep?

M.F.: Usually when I go to sleep, I’m either drunk or so tired that I fall asleep regardless (laughs out loud). When I worked for other companies, you have constant frustration because there’s lots of politics in any enterprise. Since I’ve been on my own and have my own business, I have never again had neck pains. Before I did.

I work harder than before but I never resent it as work because I do it voluntarily. Sleepless nights usually have more to do with politics or the frustration of not being able to do things in an enterprise or being shot down by people who are jealous of you than from work or from losses. In general, I’ve been very good at taking losses and I can assure you I have taken a lot of losses in my life in monetary terms.

swissinfo-interview: Robert Brookes

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR