Where in the World Is Karim Rahemtulla?
By Mary Seymour ’80
Karim Rahemtulla ’85 ’90MBA freely admits that he suffers from wanderlust. In the first half of 2012 alone, his overseas destinations included Russia, Argentina, and Scandinavia. Karim has spent a lifetime traversing the globe: He was born in Kenya to Indian parents, attended boarding school in England, moved to Canada with his family in his teens, and finished high school in Florida.
It’s no surprise, then, that he grew up to be a world traveler. Yet, it’s his latest book, Where in the World Should I Invest?: An Insider’s Guide to Making Money Around the Globe, that has put him squarely on the map. As the senior correspondent for Wall Street Daily, a free investment newsletter that challenges Wall Street’s standard wisdom, and the founder and editor of The Smart Cap Alert, a research service that provides stock market strategies and recommendations, Karim has become the go-to expert for risk-loving folks who want to invest in underdeveloped overseas markets. Some might compare this type of investing to playing Texas Hold ’em while blindfolded; if so, Karim’s book is the equivalent of an expert card player whispering in the gambler’s ear.
First and foremost, he advises, “Emerging markets are not for the faint of heart. They’re extremely volatile. If you are going to invest, don’t hold—buy and trade.”
Karim speaks from experience: Not only does he invest in emerging markets, he investigates those markets firsthand. After Egypt’s political revolution in February 2011, he got on a plane to witness the aftermath. He met with the head of Egypt’s stock exchange and walked the streets of Cairo, which were still smoldering. “Most people were saying, ‘Buy Egypt,’ but I said, ‘No way,’ ” recalls Karim. “That turned out to be right.”
Whatever country he’s vetting, Karim typically meets with its finance minister and its head of the stock exchange. He also immerses himself in its culture, getting a sense of the current zeitgeist. For example, during a recent visit to Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, he was struck by its vibrancy. “You see billboards for Palmolive detergent, and you think, ‘Gosh, this is what people were looking at in the ’60s in the U.S.’ In the States, people take everything for granted; they have a car, a house. In Vietnam, people are just dying to buy toilet paper that’s soft. They’re finally beginning to enjoy the things we’ve had for decades.” He adds, “As the economic playing field gets level, the world will be a better place—that’s the excitement of it.”
Where in the World Should I Invest? is as much travelogue as investors’ guide. For example, his chapter on Thailand includes a description of its famed red-light district, and he offers some typically straightforward advice on the land of his ancestors: “If you get flustered easily or hate crowds, don’t visit India.”
Of course, Karim, who doesn’t fluster easily, will be visiting India again. And Cambodia, and China, and any other country where people are thrilled to have soft toilet paper and a future that looks rosier than the past.