Last summer, nearly every prominent meteorologist in the country was predicting a strong, dangerous hurricane season. One exception was Sarasota-based meteorologist Jim Roemer. While others discussed the unusually warm temperatures in the Atlantic, Roemer noticed that a drought in Ghana and the Ivory Coast—a once-in-20-years kind of drought—was preventing hurricane development.
Roemer is not a typical meteorologist. As a kid, he used to imagine that he would end up on TV, but everything changed when, “I realized the weather has a $3 trillion effect on the economy,” he says. He started studying ways that weather affects specific commodities. That’s why he was able to recognize the hurricane-suppressing drought; he was observing the cocoa trade in West Africa. “The price of cocoa went up about 20 percent because of that,” he says.
In the 1980s, Roemer started writing papers and advising farmers about weather patterns. Now he works as a meteorologist for a large hedge fund—worth almost $4 billion—in New York, Sao Paulo and London. He’s a monthly contributor to Seeking Alpha, a stock market analysis website, and advises investment accounts. His strategy is part studying historical cycles, part observing global trends and part intuition. “In meteorology and in the financial markets, everybody relies too much on computers and mathematical models,” he says. “I believe in math, but you need something much more innate and abstract.” ■ By Beau Denton