The best investments in 2007 were in energy and agriculture, as prescient investors profited from emerging countries' need to supply their fast-growing economies.
And so far this year, the trend continues. Seed, fertilizer, pesticide and farming-equipment companies have been among the few to avoid ruin in the first two weeks of 2008.
I spoke with veteran speculator Jim Rogers about this phenomenon late last month, and Rogers, a trading partner with George Soros, said ag was essentially the only sector he likes. Rogers is talking his own book, to be sure; he has created indices and exchange-traded funds that make the purchase of grains and other soft commodities easier for nonprofessionals. But that shouldn't prevent us from listening.
"The number of acres devoted to wheat farming is at a 30-year low while inventories of food worldwide are at their lowest since 1972," Rogers says. "With so much corn going into our tanks as ethanol, a growing middle class worldwide eating more corn-fed meat and wearing more cotton than ever, agriculture has a great future, if you ask me, and that's why I'm buying."