Cold Calling

Mon, 2018/01/08 - 9:40am | Your editor
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Global warming has caused an overwhelming heat-wave in Australia, which led to cricket matches being cancelled, and also great winter fury in east coast America, called the bomb-cyclone. It is cold in London but dry and if we bundle up we are fine outside. But were we in Manhattan we would have to remain indoors.


Some of the very stable geniuses who don't believe in global warming mock the scientists' linkage of freezing weather with the industrial impact on the earth's climate. While hard for the simple-minded to grasp extreme cold iconfirms that pollution and carbon are potentially harming life on earth. Warming doesn't only explain hot Oz weather; it also explains extreme cold and deadly storms in North America.


At age 81, Mark Mobius of the Templeton fund management group is retiring from directing its activities in emerging markets, as he had been doing for 40 years. Mobius, born in upstate Rochester New York to a pair of immigrants from Germany and Latin America, and studied economics at Boston University where he got his BA and MA. I ran into him first when he was a graduate student at MIT. In 1961 he, under the name Joe Mobius and your editor participated in a Harvard government department seminar run by Prof. Barrington Moore. Moore, a Sovietologist, was trying to figure out whether economic factors hampered or favored the rise of democratic political systems. Mobius got his PhD from MIT in 1964.

Mobius's first job was developing a dairy industry in northern Thailand. He then became a consultant on Asia markets from Hong Kong. Then he worked for Vickers da Costa and a Taiwanese investment firm, International Investment Trust Co., before jumping ship to join the legendary John Marks Templeton's Bahama-based company fund management in 1987. He was not the first to plug emerging market investment, a role which was taken by Antoine van Agtmael who invented the term and created databases for emerging markets earlier in the 1980s on behalf of the International Finance Corp., the private sector arm of the World Bank. Agtmael created the first emerging markets country funds. But Mobius was the first to create a worldwide fund for these emerging countries.

One result of joining Templeton was that Mobius reversed his former first name, Joseph, to a middle name, to prevent any confusion with John Templeton. Like his mentor, Sir John, who renounced his US nationality and became Bahamian-British, Mobius did the same and took German nationality. Because of his baldness he was often called the Yul Brynner of emerging markets. During his prime years he travelled 200 days per year, in part the result of his not being allowed to spend more than 183 days per year in the US lest he become a taxpayer. Besides his well known hands-on flying visits to emerging markets company the funds were considering investing in, Mark also acted as a spokesman for the Templeton group, now merged into Franklin Funds (NYSE-BEN).

Mobius will formally retire Jan. 31. The way was prepared 2 years ago when BEN named Stephen Dover head of emerging market equity. Then last March, Mobius stepped down from 6 funds he helped manage, only remaining to run Templeton Frontier Markets with Tom Wu who will now manage solo.

When Mobius joined the late Sir John Templeton in 1987 he was the only analyst for the early years. By last year there were 50 full-timers and the assets under management topped $28 bn. BEN also now manages exchange-traded funds and the Mutual family of open-end funds.


More for paid subscribers follows on Templeton and other funds and Sweden, Israel, Brazil, Colombia, the Netherlands, Germany, Panama, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium, Canada, and the USA. We start with China.

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