George Soros Explained

George Soros
Birth Date:1930 8, mf=yes
Birth Place:Budapest, Hungary
Alma Mater:London School of Economics
Occupation:Chairman of Soros Fund Management
Chairman of the Open Society Institute
Founder and adviser of the Quantum Fund
Employer:Soros Fund Management
Open Society Institute
Networth:US$22 billion (2011)[1]
Spouse:Twice divorced (Annaliese Witschak and Susan Weber Soros)
Children:Robert, Andrea, Jonathan, Alexander, Gregory
Citizenship:United States

George Soros (or ;[2] Hungarian: '''Soros György'''; ; born August 12, 1930, as Schwartz György) is a Hungarian-American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He is the chairman of Soros Fund Management. Soros supports progressive-liberal causes.[3] He is known as "The Man Who Broke the Bank of England" because of his in investment profits during the 1992 Black Wednesday UK currency crisis.[4] [5]

Between 1979 and 2011, Soros gave away over $8 billion to human rights, public health, and education causes. He played a significant role in the peaceful transition from communism to capitalism in Hungary (1984–89),[6] and provided Europe's largest higher education endowment to Central European University in Budapest.[7] Soros is also the chairman of the Open Society Institute.

Early life

Soros was born in Budapest, Hungary to Tivadar (also known as Teodoro) and Elizabeth Soros. Tivadar Soros, a Hungarian Jew, had been a prisoner of war during and after World War I until he escaped from Russia and rejoined his family in Budapest.[8] Tivadar was an Esperantist writer and taught George to speak Esperanto from birth. Soros later said that he grew up in a Jewish home and that his parents were cautious with their religious roots.[9] Soros was thirteen years old in March 1944 when Nazi Germany occupied Hungary.[10] Soros took a job with the Jewish Council,[8] which had been established during the Nazi occupation of Hungary, to carry out Nazi and Hungarian government anti-Jewish measures.[11] [12] Soros later described this time to writer Michael Lewis:

The Jewish Council asked the little kids to hand out the deportation notices. I was told to go to the Jewish Council. And there I was given these small slips of paper ... It said report to the rabbi seminary at 9 am ... And I was given this list of names. I took this piece of paper to my father. He instantly recognized it. This was a list of Hungarian Jewish lawyers. He said, "You deliver the slips of paper and tell the people that if they report they will be deported."[13]

Later that year, at age 14, Soros lived with and posed as the godson of an employee of the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture. The official once was ordered to inventory the remaining contents of the estate of a wealthy Jewish family that had fled the country; rather than leave the young Soros alone in the city, the official brought him along.[14] The next year, 1945, Soros survived the Battle of Budapest, in which Soviet and German forces fought house-to-house through the city.

Soros emigrated to England in 1947 and, as an impoverished student, lived with his uncle, an Orthodox Jew. His uncle paid his living expenses while he attended the London School of Economics, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Philosophy in 1952.[15] While a student of the philosopher Karl Popper, Soros worked as a railway porter and as a waiter. A University tutor requested aid for Soros, and he received from a Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) charity. In a discussion at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council in 2006, Alvin Shuster, former foreign editor of the Los Angeles Times, asked Soros, "How does one go from an immigrant to a financier? ... When did you realize that you knew how to make money?" Soros replied, "Well, I had a variety of jobs and I ended up selling fancy goods on the sea side, souvenir shops, and I thought, that's really not what I was cut out to do. So, I wrote to every managing director in every merchant bank in London, got just one or two replies, and eventually that's how I got a job in a merchant bank."[16] That job was an entry-level position in Singer & Friedlander.

Career

In 1956 Soros moved to New York City working as an arbitrage trader for F. M. Mayer (1956–59) and as an analyst for Wertheim & Co. (1959–63). During this period, Soros developed the theory of reflexivity based on the ideas of Karl Popper. Reflexivity posited that the valuation of any market produces a procyclical "virtuous or vicious" circle that further affects the market.

Soros' experience from 1963 to 1973 as a vice-president at Arnhold and S. Bleichroderl resulted in little enthusiasm for the job and a desire to assert himself as an investor to make reflexivity profitable. In 1967, First Eagle Funds created an opportunity for Soros to run an offshore investment fund as well as the Double Eagle hedge fund in 1969. In 1973, due to regulatory restrictions limiting his ability to run the funds, Soros resigned from his First Eagle funds. He then established the Quantum Fund, a private investment firm, hoping to earn $500,000 after five years to support his ambitions as a writer and philosopher.

In 1970, Soros founded Soros Fund Management and became its chairman, with the firm's day-to-day operations being managed by Soros' two elder sons and the firm's chief investment officer, Keith Anderson.[17] [18] In August 2010, Soros bought a 4 per cent stake in the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) for about $35 million.[19]

In July 2011, Soros announced that he had returned funds from outside investors' money (valued at $1 billion) and instead invested funds from his $24.5 billion family fortune due to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure rules.[20]

Currency speculation

On September 16, 1992, Black Wednesday, Soros' fund sold short more than $10 billion in pounds,[17] profiting from the UK government's reluctance to either raise its interest rates to levels comparable to those of other European Exchange Rate Mechanism countries or to float its currency.

Finally, the UK withdrew from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, devaluing the pound, earning Soros an estimated $1.1 billion. He was dubbed "the man who broke the Bank of England".[21] In 1997, the UK Treasury estimated the cost of Black Wednesday at £3.4 billion.

On Monday, October 26, 1992, The Times quoted Soros as saying: "Our total position by Black Wednesday had to be worth almost $10 billion. We planned to sell more than that. In fact, when Norman Lamont said just before the devaluation that he would borrow nearly $15 billion to defend sterling, we were amused because that was about how much we wanted to sell."

Stanley Druckenmiller, who traded under Soros, originally saw the weakness in the pound. "Soros' contribution was pushing him to take a gigantic position."[22] [23]

In 1997, during the Asian financial crisis, the Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir bin Mohamad accused Soros of using the wealth under his control to punish the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for welcoming Myanmar as a member. Following on a history of antisemitic remarks, Mahathir made specific reference to Soros' Jewish background ("It is a Jew who triggered the currency plunge") and implied Soros was orchestrating the crash as part of a larger Jewish conspiracy. Nine years later, in 2006, Mahathir met with Soros and afterwards stated that he accepted that Soros had not been responsible for the crisis.[24] In 1998's The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered Soros explained his role in the crisis as follows:

The financial crisis that originated in Thailand in 1997 was particularly unnerving because of its scope and severity.... By the beginning of 1997, it was clear to Soros Fund Management that the discrepancy between the trade account and the capital account was becoming untenable. We sold short the Thai baht and the Malaysian ringgit early in 1997 with maturities ranging from six months to a year. (That is, we entered into contracts to deliver at future dates Thai Baht and Malaysian ringgit that we did not currently hold.) Subsequently Prime Minister Mahathir of Malaysia accused me of causing the crisis, a wholly unfounded accusation. We were not sellers of the currency during or several months before the crisis; on the contrary, we were buyers when the currencies began to decline – we were purchasing ringgits to realize the profits on our earlier speculation. (Much too soon, as it turned out. We left most of the potential gain on the table because we were afraid that Mahathir would impose capital controls. He did so, but much later.)[25]

The nominal U.S. dollar GDP of the ASEAN fell by $9.2 billion in 1997 and $218.2 billion (31.7%) in 1998.

Economist Paul Krugman is critical of Soros' effect on financial markets.

"[N]obody who has read a business magazine in the last few years can be unaware that these days there really are investors who not only move money in anticipation of a currency crisis, but actually do their best to trigger that crisis for fun and profit. These new actors on the scene do not yet have a standard name; my proposed term is 'Soroi'."[26]

Public predictions

Soros' book, The New Paradigm for Financial Markets (May 2008), described a "superbubble" that had built up over the past 25 years and was ready to collapse. This was the third in a series of books he has written that have predicted disaster. As he states:

He ascribes his own success to being able to recognize when his predictions are wrong.

In February 2009, Soros said the world financial system had effectively disintegrated, adding that there was no prospect of a near-term resolution to the crisis.[27] "We witnessed the collapse of the financial system[...]It was placed on life support, and it's still on life support. There's no sign that we are anywhere near a bottom."

Insider trading conviction

In 1988 Soros was interested in purchasing shares in French companies. The Socialist party had lost its majority of seats in the Assembly, and the new government under Chirac had instituted an aggressive privatization program. Many people considered shares in the newly privatized companies undervalued. During this period, a French financier named Georges Pébereau contacted one of Soros' advisors in an effort to assemble a group of investors to purchase a large amount of shares in Société Générale, a leading French bank that was part of the program.

The advisor reported to Soros that Pébereau's plan was ambiguous and included an implausible takeover plan (it would indeed fail). On that advice, and without ever meeting the financier, Soros decided against participating.[28] He did, however, move forward with his strategy of accumulating shares in four French companies: Société Générale, as well as Suez, Paribas and the Compagnie Générale d'Électricité. In 1989, the Commission des Opérations de Bourse (the French stock exchange regulatory authority) conducted an investigation of whether Soros' transaction in Société Générale should be considered insider trading. Soros had received no information from the Société Générale, and had no insider knowledge of the business, but he did possess knowledge that a group of investors was planning a takeover attempt. The COB concluded that the statutes, regulations and case law relating to insider trading did not clearly establish that a crime had occurred, and that no charges should be brought against Soros.[29]

Several years later, a Paris-based prosecutor reopened the case against Soros and two other French businessmen, disregarding the COB's findings. This resulted in Soros' 2005 conviction for insider trading by the Court of Appeals (he was the only one of the three to receive a conviction). The French Supreme Court confirmed the conviction on June 14, 2006, but reduced the penalty to the minimum.[30]

Punitive damages were not sought because of the delay in bringing the case to trial. Soros denied any wrongdoing, saying news of the takeover was public knowledge[31] and it was documented that his intent to acquire shares of the company predated his own awareness of the takeover.[30]

His insider trading conviction was upheld by the highest court in France on June 14, 2006.[30] In December 2006, he appealed to the European Court of Human Rights on various grounds including that the 14-year delay in bringing the case to trial precluded a fair hearing.[32] On the basis of Article 7 of the European convention on human rights, stating that no person may be punished for an act that was not a criminal offense at the time that it was committed, the Court agreed to hear the appeal.[33] In October 2011, the court rejected his appeal in a 4–3 decision, saying that Soros has been aware of the risk of breaking insider trading laws.[34]

Sports

In 2005, Soros was a minority partner in a group that tried to buy the Washington Nationals, a Major League baseball team. Some Republican lawmakers suggested that they might move to revoke baseball's antitrust exemption if Soros bought the team. In 2008, Soros' name was associated with AS Roma, an Italian association football team, but the club was not sold. Soros was also a financial backer of Washington Soccer L.P., the group that owned the operating rights to Major League Soccer club D.C. United when the league was founded in 1995, but the group lost these rights in 2000.

Philanthropy

See main article: List of projects supported by George Soros.

Soros has been active as a philanthropist since the 1970s, when he began providing funds to help black students attend the University of Cape Town in apartheid South Africa,[35] and began funding dissident movements behind the iron curtain.

Soros' philanthropic funding includes efforts to promote non-violent democratization in the post-Soviet states. These efforts, mostly in Central and Eastern Europe, occur primarily through the Open Society Institute (OSI) and national Soros Foundations, which sometimes go under other names (such as the Stefan Batory Foundation in Poland). As of 2003, PBS estimated that he had given away a total of $4 billion.[31] The OSI says it has spent about $500 million annually in recent years.

In 2003, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker wrote in the foreword of Soros' book The Alchemy of Finance:

George Soros has made his mark as an enormously successful speculator, wise enough to largely withdraw when still way ahead of the game. The bulk of his enormous winnings is now devoted to encouraging transitional and emerging nations to become "open societies", open not only in the sense of freedom of commerce but – more important – tolerant of new ideas and different modes of thinking and behavior.

Time magazine in 2007 cited two specific projects – $100 million toward Internet infrastructure for regional Russian universities, and $50 million for the Millennium Promise to eradicate extreme poverty in Africa – while noting that Soros had given $742 million to projects in the U.S., and given away a total of more than $7 billion.[36]

Other notable projects have included aid to scientists and universities throughout Central and Eastern Europe, help to civilians during the siege of Sarajevo, and Transparency International. Soros also pledged an endowment of €420 million to the Central European University (CEU). The Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and his microfinance bank Grameen Bank received support from the OSI.

According to National Review[37] the Open Society Institute gave $20,000 in September 2002 to the Defense Committee of Lynne Stewart, the lawyer who has defended alleged terrorists in court and was sentenced to 2⅓ years in prison for "providing material support for a terrorist conspiracy" via a press conference for a client. An OSI spokeswoman said "it appeared to us at that time that there was a right-to-counsel issue worthy of our support."

In September 2006 Soros pledged $50 million to the Millennium Promise, led by economist Jeffrey Sachs to provide educational, agricultural, and medical aid to help villages in Africa enduring poverty. The New York Times termed this endeavor a "departure" for Soros whose philanthropic focus had been on fostering democracy and good government, but Soros noted that most poverty resulted from bad governance.

He received honorary doctoral degrees from the New School for Social Research (New York), the University of Oxford in 1980, the Corvinus University of Budapest, and Yale University in 1991. Soros also received the Yale International Center for Finance Award from the Yale School of Management in 2000 as well as the Laurea Honoris Causa, the highest honor of the University of Bologna in 1995.

Soros played a role in the peaceful transition from communism to capitalism in Hungary (1984–89)[38] and provided Europe's largest-ever higher education endowment to Central European University in Budapest.[39] Later, the Open Society Institute's programs in Georgia were considered by Russian and Western observers to have been crucial in the success of the Rose Revolution.

In the United States, he donated large sums of money in an effort to defeat President George W. Bush's bid for re-election in 2004. In 2010, he donated $1 million in support of Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana in the state of California. He was an initial donor to the Center for American Progress, and he continues to support the organization through the Open Society Foundations. The Open Society Institute has active programs in more than 60 countries around the world with total expenditures currently averaging approximately $600 million a year.[40] Between 1979 and 2011, Soros gave away over $8 billion to human rights, public health, and education causes.[1]

Political donations and activism

United States

In an interview with The Washington Post on November 11, 2003, Soros said that removing President George W. Bush from office was the "central focus of my life" and "a matter of life and death". He said he would sacrifice his entire fortune to defeat President Bush, "if someone guaranteed it".[41] Soros gave $3 million to the Center for American Progress, $2.5 million to MoveOn.org, and $20 million[42] to America Coming Together. These groups worked to support Democrats in the 2004 election. On September 28, 2004 he dedicated more money to the campaign and kicked off his own multi-state tour with a speech: Why We Must Not Re-elect President Bush[43] delivered at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The online transcript to this speech received many hits after Dick Cheney accidentally referred to FactCheck.org as "factcheck.com" in the Vice Presidential debate, causing the owner of that domain to redirect all traffic to Soros' site.[44] Asked in 2006 about his statement in The Age of Fallibility that "the main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States", Soros responded that "it happens to coincide with the prevailing opinion in the world. And I think that's rather shocking for Americans to hear. The United States sets the agenda for the world. And the rest of the world has to respond to that agenda. By declaring a 'war on terror' after September 11, we set the wrong agenda for the world. [...] when you wage war, you inevitably create innocent victims."[45]

Soros was not a large donor to US political causes until the 2004 presidential election, but according to the Center for Responsive Politics, during the 2003–2004 election cycle, Soros donated $23,581,000 to various 527 groups dedicated to defeating President Bush. A 527 group is a type of American tax-exempt organization named after a section of the United States tax code, 26 U.S.C. § 527.

After Bush's re-election, Soros and other donors backed a new political fundraising group called Democracy Alliance, which supports progressive causes and the formation of a stronger progressive infrastructure in America.

In August 2009, Soros donated $35 million to the state of New York to be ear-marked for under-privileged children and given to parents who had benefit cards at the rate of $200 per child aged 3 through 17, with no limit as to the number of children that qualified. An additional $140 million was put into the fund by the state of New York from money they had received from the 2009 federal recovery act.[46]

On October 26, 2010, Soros donated $1 million, the largest donation in the campaign, to the Drug Policy Alliance to fund Proposition 19, that would have legalized marijuana in the state of California if it had passed in the November 2, 2010 elections.

In October 2011 a Reuters story titled "Soros: not a funder of Wall Street protests" was published after several commentators pointed out errors in an earlier Reuters story headlined "Who's behind the Wall St. protests?"with a lede stating that the Occupy Wall Street movement "may have benefited indirectly from the largesse of one of the world's richest men [Soros]". Reuters' follow-up article also reported a Soros spokesperson and Adbusters' co-founder Kalle Lasn both saying that Adbusters – which was the catalyst for the first Occupy Wall Street protests – had never received any contributions from Soros, contrary to Reuters' earlier story which reported that "indirect financial links" existed between the two as late as 2010.[47] [48]

Central and Eastern Europe

According to Waldemar A. Nielsen, an authority on American philanthropy,[49] "[Soros] has undertaken ... nothing less than to open up the once-closed Communist societies of Eastern Europe to a free flow of ideas and scientific knowledge from the ouside world".[50] From 1979, as an advocate of 'open societies', Soros financially supported dissidents including Poland's Solidarity movement, Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia and Andrei Sakharov in the Soviet Union.[35] In 1984, he founded his first Open Society Institute in Hungary with a budget of $3 million.[51] Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Soros' funding has continued to play an important role in the former Soviet sphere. His funding of pro-democratic programs in Georgia was considered by Russian and Western observers to be crucial to the success of the Rose Revolution, although Soros has said that his role has been "greatly exaggerated".[52] Alexander Lomaia, Secretary of the Georgian Security Council and former Minister of Education and Science, is a former Executive Director of the Open Society Georgia Foundation (Soros Foundation), overseeing a staff of 50 and a budget of $2,500,000.[53]

Former Georgian Foreign Minister Salomé Zourabichvili wrote that institutions like the Soros Foundation were the cradle of democratisation and that all the NGOs which gravitated around the Soros Foundation undeniably carried the revolution. She opines that after the revolution the Soros Foundation and the NGOs were integrated into power.[54]

Some Soros-backed pro-democracy initiatives have been banned in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.[55] Ercis Kurtulus, head of the Social Transparency Movement Association (TSHD) in Turkey, said in an interview that "Soros carried out his will in Ukraine and Georgia by using these NGOs...Last year Russia passed a special law prohibiting NGOs from taking money from foreigners. I think this should be banned in Turkey as well."[56] In 1997, Soros had to close his foundation in Belarus after it was fined $3 million by the government for "tax and currency violations". According to The New York Times, the Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has been widely criticized in the West and in Russia for his efforts to control the Belarus Soros Foundation and other independent NGOs and to suppress civil and human rights. Soros called the fines part of a campaign to "destroy independent society".

In June 2009, Soros donated $100m to Central Europe and Eastern Europe to counter the impact of the economic crisis on the poor, voluntary groups and non-government organisations.[57]

Africa

The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa is a Soros-affiliated organization.[58] Its director for Zimbabwe is Godfrey Kanyenze, who also directs the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), which was the main force behind the founding of the Movement for Democratic Change, the principal indigenous organization promoting regime change in Zimbabwe.

Drug policy reform

Soros has funded worldwide efforts to promote drug policy reform. In 2008, Soros donated $400,000 to help fund a successful ballot measure in Massachusetts known as the Massachusetts Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative which decriminalized possession of less than 1 oz (28g) of marijuana in the state. Soros has also funded similar measures in California, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Nevada and Maine.[59] Among the drug decriminalization groups that have received funding from Soros are the Lindesmith Center and Drug Policy Foundation.[60] Soros donated $1.4 million to publicity efforts to support California's Proposition 5 in 2008, a failed ballot measure that would have expanded drug rehabilitation programs as alternatives to prison for persons convicted of non-violent drug-related offenses.

In October 2010, Soros donated $1 million to support California's Proposition 19.

According to remarks in an interview in October 2009, it is Soros' opinion that marijuana is less addictive but not appropriate for use by children and students. He himself has not used marijuana for years.[61]

Death and dying

The Project on Death in America, active from 2001 to 2003, was one of the Open Society Institute's projects, which sought to "understand and transform the culture and experience of dying and bereavement".[62] In 1994, Soros delivered a speech in which he reported that he had offered to help his mother, a member of the Hemlock Society, commit suicide.[63] In the same speech, he also endorsed the Oregon Death with Dignity Act,[64] the campaign which he helped fund.

Philosophy

Education and beliefs

His philosophical outlook is influenced by Karl Popper, under whom he studied at the London School of Economics (LSE). His Open Society Institute is named after Popper's two volume work, The Open Society and Its Enemies, and Soros' ongoing philosophical commitment to the principle of fallibilism (that anything he believes may in fact be wrong, and is therefore to be questioned and improved) stems from Popper's philosophy.

Reflexivity, financial markets, and economic theory

Soros' writings focus heavily on the concept of reflexivity, where the biases of individuals enter into market transactions, potentially changing the perception of fundamentals of the economy. Soros argues that different principles apply in markets depending on whether they are in a "near to equilibrium" or a "far from equilibrium" state. He argues that, when markets are rising or falling rapidly, they are typically marked by disequilibrium rather than equilibrium, and that the conventional economic theory of the market (the 'efficient market hypothesis') does not apply in these situations. Soros has popularized the concepts of dynamic disequilibrium, static disequilibrium, and near-equilibrium conditions.

He has stated that his own financial success has been attributable to the edge accorded by his understanding of the action of the reflexive effect.

Reflexivity is based on three main ideas:

  1. Reflexivity is best observed under special conditions where investor bias grows and spreads throughout the investment arena. Examples of factors that may give rise to this bias include (a) equity leveraging or (b) the trend-following habits of speculators.
  2. Reflexivity appears intermittently since it is most likely to be revealed under certain conditions; i.e., the character of the equilibrium process is best considered in terms of probabilities.
  3. Investors' observation of and participation in the capital markets may at times influence valuations and fundamental conditions or outcomes.

A current example of reflexivity in modern financial markets is that of the debt and equity of housing markets. Lenders began to make more money available to more people in the 1990s to buy houses. More people bought houses with this larger amount of money, thus increasing the prices of these houses. Lenders looked at their balance sheets which not only showed that they had made more loans, but that their equity backing the loans – the value of the houses, had gone up (because more money was chasing the same amount of housing, relatively). Thus they lent out more money because their balance sheets looked good, they were guaranteed by the Federal Government, and prices went up more.

This was further amplified by public policy. Many governments see home ownership as a positive outcome and so first home owners grant and other financial subsidies – or influences to buy a home such as the exemption of a primary residence from capital gains taxation – mean that house purchases were seen as a good thing. Prices increased rapidly, and lending standards were relaxed. The salient issue regarding reflexivity is that it explains why markets gyrate over time, and do not just stick to equilibrium – they tend to overshoot or undershoot.

View of potential problems in the free market system

Despite working as an investor and currency speculator, he argues that the current system of financial speculation undermines healthy economic development in many underdeveloped countries. Soros blames many of the world's problems on the failures inherent in what he characterizes as market fundamentalism. His opposition to many aspects of globalization has made him a controversial figure.

Victor Niederhoffer said of Soros: "Most of all, George believed even then in a mixed economy, one with a strong central international government to correct for the excesses of self-interest."

Soros claims to draw a distinction between being a participant in the market and working to change the rules that market participants must follow. According to Mahathir bin Mohamed, Prime Minister of Malaysia from July 1981 to October 2003, Soros – as the hedge fund chief of Quantum – may have been partially responsible for the economic crash in 1997 of East Asian markets when the Thai currency relinquished its peg to the US dollar. According to Mahathir, in the three years leading to the crash, Soros invested in short-term speculative investment in East Asian stock markets and real estate, then divested with "indecent haste" at the first signs of currency devaluation.[65] Soros replied, saying that Mahathir was using him "as a scapegoat for his own mistakes", that Mahathir's promises to ban currency trading (which Malaysian finance officials hastily retracted) were "a recipe for disaster" and that Mahathir "is a menace to his own country".[66]

In an interview regarding the late-2000s recession, Soros referred to it as the most serious crisis since the 1930s. According to Soros, market fundamentalism with its assumption that markets will correct themselves with no need for government intervention in financial affairs has been "some kind of an ideological excess". In Soros' view, the markets' moods – a "mood" of the markets being a prevailing bias or optimism/pessimism with which the markets look at reality – "actually can reinforce themselves so that there are these initially self-reinforcing but eventually unsustainable and self-defeating boom/bust sequences or bubbles".[67]

In reaction to the late-2000s recession, he founded the Institute for New Economic Thinking in October 2009. This is a think tank composed of international economic, business and financial experts, mandated to investigate radical new approaches to organising the international economic and financial system.

Views on antisemitism

At a Jewish forum in New York City, November 5, 2003, Soros partially attributed a recent resurgence of antisemitism to the policies of Israel and the United States, and the role of wealthy and influential individuals:

There is a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe. The policies of the Bush administration and the Sharon administration contribute to that. It's not specifically anti-Semitism, but it does manifest itself in anti-Semitism as well. I'm critical of those policies... If we change that direction, then anti-Semitism also will diminish. I can't see how one could confront it directly... I'm also very concerned about my own role because the new anti-Semitism holds that the Jews rule the world... As an unintended consequence of my actions... I also contribute to that image.[68]
In a subsequent article for The New York Review of Books, Soros emphasized that
I do not subscribe to the myths propagated by enemies of Israel and I am not blaming Jews for anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism predates the birth of Israel. Neither Israel's policies nor the critics of those policies should be held responsible for anti-Semitism. At the same time, I do believe that attitudes toward Israel are influenced by Israel's policies, and attitudes toward the Jewish community are influenced by the pro-Israel lobby's success in suppressing divergent views.[69]

Views on Europe

In October 2011, Soros drafted an open letter entitled "As concerned Europeans we urge Eurozone leaders to unite"[70] whereby he calls for a stronger economic government for Europe using federal means (Common EU treasury, common fiscal supervision, ...) and warns against the danger of nationalistic solutions to the economic crisis. The letter was co-signed by prominent europeans such as Javier Solana, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Andrew Duff, Emma Bonino, Massimo d'Alema, Vaira Vike-Freiberga.

Views on China

Soros has expressed concern about the growth of Chinese economic and political power. "China has risen very rapidly by looking out for its own interests ... They have now got to accept responsibility for world order and the interests of other people as well." Regarding the political gridlock in America, he said, "Today China has not only a more vigorous economy, but actually a better functioning government than the United States".[71]

Wealth

On September 21st 2011, Forbes announced that Soros, at 81, has for the first time made the list of the 10 wealthiest Americans, with a net worth estimated at $22.0 billion. According to this list, Soros is the 46th richest person in the world. Soros has given away $8 billion to various causes since 1979.

Relation to Hungarian politics

In the 1980's Viktor Orbán, a future Chairman of Fidesz (1994–2000, 2000–) and Hungarian Prime Minister (1998–2002, 2010–), along with László Kövér, a future Chairman of Fidesz (2000), Secret Service Minister (1998–2002) and Speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary (2010–), were Soros scholarship recipients. Deputy Prime Minister István Stumpf – now a member of the Constitutional Court – was a member of Soros Foundation's Board of Trustees between 1994 and 2002.

Personal life

Soros' family changed their name from Schwartz to Soros in 1936, in response to growing anti-semitism with the rise of fascism. Tivadar liked the new name because it is a palindrome and because of its meaning. Although the specific meaning is left unstated in Kaufman's biography, in Hungarian, soros means "next in line", or "designated successor"; and, in Esperanto, it means "will soar".[72]

Married and divorced twice, Soros has three children with Annaliese Witschak (Robert, Andrea, Jonathan) and two with Susan Weber Soros (Alexander and Gregory). His elder brother, Paul Soros, also a private investor and philanthropist, is an engineer who headed Soros Associates and established the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for Young Americans.[73] Soros' nephew Peter Soros, a son of Paul Soros, married the former Flora Fraser – a daughter of Lady Antonia Fraser and the late Sir Hugh Fraser and a stepdaughter of the late 2005 Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter. Fraser and Soros separated in 2009.

His son Alexander Soros is also gaining prominence for his donations to social and political causes, focusing his philanthropic efforts on "progressive causes that might not have widespread support". Alexander serves on the boards of Jewish Funds for Justice and Global Witness, and led the list of student political donors in the 2010 election cycle.[74]

See also

Books

Authored or co-authored

Biographies

Journalism

Authored

About

Scholarly perspectives

Speeches

Interviews

External links

Notes and References

  1. Web site: Forbes 400 Richest Americans: George Soros. Forbes. October 6, 2011. September. 2011.
  2. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6150320548187842685 Authors@Google: George Soros
  3. Shawcross, William (September 1, 1997). "Turning Dollars into Change". Time.
  4. http://www.open2.net/openfinance/black_wednesday.html Open University
  5. http://www.georgesoros.com/faqs/archive/category/finance/ George Soros FAQ
  6. Murphy. Brendan. Finance: The Unifying Theme. The Atlantic. 1993. July. Washington, DC. 1072-7825.
  7. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-79165556.html "Hungary: Soros Donates $250 Million to University in Budapest"
  8. Kaufman, Michael T. (2002). Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire. Alfred A. Knopf.
  9. Slater, Robert (1995). Soros: The Unauthorized Biography. McGraw-Hill. p. 30.
  10. Web site: Holocaust Encyclopedia. Ushmm.org. October 16, 2009.
  11. http://pajamasmedia.com/rogerlsimon/2010/09/06/holocaust-denial-george-soros-vs-the-tea-parties/ Holocaust Denial: George Soros vs. the Tea Parties
  12. http://pajamasmedia.com/rogerkimball/2010/09/06/the-man-who-broke-the-bank-of-england/ The Man Who Broke the Bank of England, Spent $24 million to Defeat George Bush, and Never Met a Left Wing-Cause he Didn't Like
  13. Lewis, Michael (January 10, 1994), "The Speculator: What on earth is multibillionaire George Soros doing throwing wads of money around in Eastern Europe?", The New Republic. See also Kaufman, Michael T., Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire, Alfred A. Knopf: 2002, pp. 32–33
  14. Kaufman, Michael T., Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire, p. 37
  15. http://www.georgesoros.com/faqs/entry/georgesorosofficialbiography/ Official Biography
  16. http://www.lawac.org/speech-archive/pdf/2006/Soros_612.pdf Consequences of the War on Terror
  17. http://www.georgesoros.com/faqs/archive/category/finance/ "George Soros"
  18. http://www.gurufocus.com/news.php?id=109858 Soros Buys 20% of BNK Petroleum
  19. http://www.thehindu.com/business/markets/article584062.ece "George Soros buys 4 p.c. in BSE for $35 million"
  20. News: Dominic. Rushe. George Soros to close hedge fund management group to outside investors. The Guardian. July 26, 2011. July 27, 2011. London.
  21. Litterick, David (September 13, 2002), "Billionaire who Broke the Bank of England", The Telegraph
  22. Steven Drobny, "Inside the House of Money", John Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, NJ, 2006.
  23. Soros on Soros: Staying Ahead of the Curve (John Wiley, 1995) ISBN 0-471-12014-6
  24. http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200612/s1812946.htm
  25. Soros, George (1999). The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered, 2nd ed., PublicAffairs, ISBN 1-891220-27-4, pp. 208–209.
  26. Book: Krugman, Paul. Paul Krugman

    . The accidental theorist: and other dispatches from the dismal science. Paul Krugman. 1999. W. W. Norton & Company. New York. 160.

  27. http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE51K0A920090221 Soros sees no bottom for world financial "collapse"
  28. News: Saltmarsh. Saltmarsh. Soros to Get a Day in Court Over Insider Trading Case. The New York Times. September 15, 2010. October 12, 2011.
  29. News: Smith. Heather. Soros Insider-Trading Conviction Reviewed by Human Rights Court. Bloomberg Businessweek. October 4, 2011. October 12, 2011.
  30. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/14/business/worldbusiness/14iht-soros.1974397.html "Insider trading conviction of Soros is upheld"
  31. http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript_soros.html "David Brancaccio interviews George Soros"
  32. News: Lichfield. John. Financier Soros fined £1.4m for insider trading. October 12, 2011. The Independent. London. December 22, 2002.
  33. News: Saltmarsh. Matthew. Soros to Get a Day in Court Over Insider Trading Case. September 18, 2011. The New York Times. September 15, 2010.
  34. News: Smith, Heather. Soros Loses Case Against French Insider-Trading Conviction. October 9, 2011. Bloomberg. October 6, 2011.
  35. http://www.osf.org.za/Home/default.asp#George "Who is George Soros? "
  36. http://georgesoros.com/faqs/entry/georgesorosphilanthropyisunprecedented/ Philanthrophy
  37. York, Byron, Soros Funded Stewart Defense, National Review Online. Retrieved February 7, 2007.
  38. Murphy. Brendan. Finance: The Unifying Theme. The Atlantic. 1993. Jul. Washington, DC. 1072-7825.
  39. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-79165556.html
  40. http://www.georgesoros.com/faqs/entry/georgesorosphilanthropyisunprecedented/ Active Programs
  41. Laura Blumenfeld, Deep Pockets vs. Bush, Financier Contributes $5 Million More in Effort to Oust President, Washington Post, November 11, 2003; Page A03
  42. "Soros, who would eventually give ACT $20 million of his own money" from http://old.nationalreview.com/york/york200508030928.asp
  43. Web site: Why We Must Not Re-elect President Bush. Commondreams.org. September 28, 2004. October 16, 2009.
  44. Web site: Suellentrop. Chris. Cheney Drops the Ball. Slate.com. October 6, 2004. October 16, 2009.
  45. http://www.newsweek.com/2006/06/27/america-the-dangerous.html "America the Dangerous?"
  46. Web site: All Things Considered. Soros Uses Leverage To Aid New York Children. NPR. August 11, 2009. October 16, 2009.
  47. Egan, Mark; Nichols, Michelle (October 13, 2011). "Soros: not a funder of Wall Street protests". Reuters. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  48. Egan, Mark; Nichols, Michelle (October 13, 2011). "Who's behind the Wall St. protests?". Reuters. Retrieved October 13, 2011.
  49. Wolfgang Saxon "Waldemar Nielsen, Expert on Philanthropy, Dies at 88", New York Times, November 4, 2005
  50. Waldemar A. Nielsen Inside American Philanthropy: The Dramas of Donorship, University of Oklahoma Press, 1996, p.77
  51. George Soros "Soros: In revolutionary times the impossible becomes possible", CNN, November 4, 2009
  52. Web site: Soros Downplays Role in Georgia Revolution. Archive.newsmax.com. June 1, 2005. October 16, 2009.
  53. Web site: Alexander Lomaia – Minister of Education and Science (Georgia). Oecd.org. October 16, 2009.
  54. Salomé Zourabichvili, Herodote (magazine of the French Institute for Geopolitics), April 2008
  55. Fred Weir: Democracy rising in ex-Soviet states, Christian Science Monitor, February 10, 2005
  56. Web site: Does Foreign Funding Make NGOs into Puppets?. Globalpolicy.org. October 11, 2006. October 16, 2009.
  57. http://www.unian.net/eng/news/news-321844.html Soros donates $100 million to Europe
  58. http://www.osf.org.za/Home/default.asp#Operate "How do we operate?"
  59. LeBlanc, Steve, Soros behind Mass. effort to decriminalize pot, Associated Press, August 27, 2008
  60. http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=4416 Norml.org
  61. http://www.sr.se/webbradio/webbradio.asp?type=db&Id=1992351&BroadcastDate=&IsBlock= Gorge Soros. Ekots lördagsintevju
  62. http://www.soros.org/death Project on Death in America
  63. Web site: George Soros: Reflections on Death in America | Project on Death in America. http://web.archive.org/web/20010622072255/http://www.soros.org/death/george_soros.htm,http://web.archive.org/web/20080603005835/http%3A//www.soros.org/death. June 22, 2001,June 3, 2008. Web.archive.org. June 22, 2001. October 16, 2009. yes.
  64. Web site: George Soros: Reflections on Death in America contd. 2 | Project on Death in America. Web.archive.org. March 25, 2002. October 16, 2009. http://web.archive.org/web/20020325032428/www.soros.org/death/george_soros3.htm. March 25, 2002.
  65. chapter 10 "The Developmental States of East Asia". Hoogvelt, Ankie. 2001. in Globalization and the Postcolonial World: The New Political Economy of Development. Balimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press.
  66. Maggie Farley: Malaysian Leader, Soros Trade Barbs, Los Angeles Times, September 22, 1997
  67. Bill Moyers Journal, "George Soros on the financial crisis", published October 10, 2008, at http://odeo.com, full transcript and podcast
  68. Web site: Kampeas. Ron. jta.org. jta.org. October 12, 2009. October 16, 2009.
  69. Soros, George. "On Israel, America and AIPAC". New York Review of Books. April 12, 2007.
  70. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/7d85abd2-f353-11e0-b11b-00144feab49a.html#axzz1aYVAViDt Retrieved on 9 January 2012.
  71. http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/11/16/soros_china_has_better_functioning_government_than_us Soros: China has better functioning government than U.S.
  72. Kaufman, Michael T. (2002). Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire. Alfred A. Knopf. p. 24.
  73. Web site: Fellowship Background & History. Paul and Dora Soros Fellowships for Young Americans. March 22, 2009.
  74. Hepler, Lauren (October 20, 2010). "Led By George Soros' Son, Student Contributions Buoy Democrats in 2010 Midterms". OpenSecretsBlog. Center for Responsive Politics.
  75. Web site: The Perilous Price of Oil – The New York Review of Books. Nybooks.com. September 25, 2008. October 16, 2009.