George Soros

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George Soros (born August 12, 1930 in Budapest, Hungary as Soros György) is a Hungarian-born financial speculator and political activist. Currently, he is the chairman of Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Institute and is also former member of the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is known around the world for the role he played in Georgia's Rose Revolution. In the United States he is known for donating large sums of money in an attempt to defeat President George W. Bush's bid for reelection.

Family

He was married to Susan Weber Soros, but has recently divorced. He has five children, Paul, Jonathan, Gregory, Alexander and Robert.

Early life

George Soros is the son of the Esperanto writer Tivadar Soros. Soros was born in Hungary.

As a young man, Soros traded foreign currencies in the black market in Hungary during the second world war. Soros was fourteen when the Germans took military control over their ally Hungary in the last part of the war. Some say he avoided the fate of many Jews because he was acting as godson of a Hungarian official working for the Nazis, overseeing the confiscation of Jewish properties. This godfather apparently had a son-in-law in Tivadar Soros who was George's father. Tivadar tells of his ordeal to survive fascist Hungary, and help many people escape it, in his book Maskerado.

In 1946 George escaped the Soviet occupation by participating in an Esperanto youth congress in the West. (Soros was taught to speak the language from birth and thus is one of the rare native Esperanto speakers.)

Soros emigrated to England in 1947 and graduated from the London School of Economics in 1952. In 1956 he moved to the United States. He has stated that his intent was to earn enough money on Wall Street to support himself as an author and philosopher. His net worth reached an estimated $11 billion.

Business

Soros is the founder of Soros Fund Management. In 1970 he co-founded the Quantum Fund with Jim Rogers. It returned more than 4000% during the next ten years, and created the bulk of the Soros fortune.

1992

On Black Wednesday (September 16, 1992), Soros became instantly famous when he sold short more than $10bn worth of pounds, profiting from the Bank of England's stubborn reluctance to either raise its interest rates to levels comparable to those of other European Exchange Rate Mechanism countries or to float its currency. Finally, the Bank of England was forced to withdraw the currency out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism and to devalue the Pound Sterling, and Soros earned an estimated US$ 1.1 billion in the process. He was dubbed "the man who broke the Bank of England."

The Times October 26, 1992, Monday: "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."

1997

In 1997, under similar circumstances during the Asian financial crisis, then Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad accused Soros of bringing down the Malaysian currency, the ringgit.

Litigation

"But it was in France that Soros got into trouble with the authorities. In 1988, he was asked to join a takeover attempt of a French bank. He declined, but he did buy the bank's stock. In 2002, a French court ruled that was insider trading." "Soros denies any wrongdoing and says news of the takeover was public knowledge. Nevertheless, he was fined more than $2 million…roughly the amount French authorities say he made from the trades." Bill Moyers PBS

Critics

Criticism of financial activities

Critics point out that Soros has an undue influence on currency markets through Quantum Fund, his privately-owned investment fund.

Furthermore, the fund is registered in Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles, a Caribbean tax haven which has repeatedly been cited by the International Task Force on Money Laundering of the OECD as one of the world's most important centers for laundering the illegal proceeds of the Latin American drug trade. By operating from Curaçao, Soros not only avoids paying taxes but also hides the identity and nature of his investors and what he does with their money.

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Dennis Hastert, suggested that Soros' wealth may be derived from drugs. The Speaker has stated, "We don't know where [George Soros' money] comes from. We don't know where it comes from, from the left, and you don't know where it comes in the right. You know, Soros' money, some of that is coming from overseas. It could be drug money. We don't know where it comes from." Soros responded to Hastert by saying, "by smearing me with false charges and mischaracterizations you are attempting to stifle critical debate and intimidate those who believe this administration is leading the country in a ruinous direction. Now that I have called you on your false accusation, you are using additional smear tactics." [1] Soros filed an official complaint with the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. Soros claimed that Hastert's comments "strongly suggests a deliberate effort to use smear tactics, intimidation and falsehoods to silence criticism."

Criticism of political activities

George Soros has many critics amongst American and Israeli conservatives.

Supporters of the Bush administration dislike his contributions for campaigns against Bush. Supporters of Israeli government policy dislike his inflammatory rhetorical comparisons of it to Nazi Germany and Yasser Arafat. Soros has also been called a self-hating Jew, a Jewish antisemite. At a Jewish forum in New York City, Soros reportedly attributed a recent resurgence of antisemitism to the policies of Israel and the United States, and to successful Jews such as himself:

"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." [2]

Arguably, this could be a result of Soros's Popperian philosophy and the resulting tendency toward self-criticism.

Philanthropy

Soros has been active as a philanthropist since 1979, when he began providing funds to help black students attend the University of Cape Town in apartheid South Africa. Soros' philanthropic funding in Eastern Europe mostly occurs through the Open Society Institute and national Soros Foundations, which sometimes go under other names, e.g. the Stefan Batory Foundation in Poland. He also pledged an endowment of $250 million to the Central European University (CEU).

He received honorary doctoral degrees from the New School for Social Research (New York), the University of Oxford in 1980, the Budapest University of Economics, and Yale University in 1991. Soros was a student of Karl Popper and says that his investment strategies are based on a Popperian skepticism about the reliability of any one human belief.

==Quotes== Template:Wikiquote

  • "How can we escape from the trap that the terrorists have set us," he asked. "Only by recognizing that the war on terrorism cannot be won by waging war. We must, of course, protect our security; but we must also correct the grievances on which terrorism feeds....Crime requires police work, not military action."
  • "An open society is a society which allows its members the greatest possible degree of freedom in pursuing their interests compatible with the interests of others," Soros said. "The Bush administration merely has a narrower definition of self-interest. It does not include the interests of others."
  • "The supremacist ideology of the Bush Administration stands in opposition to the principles of an open society, which recognize that people have different views and that nobody is in possession of the ultimate truth. The supremacist ideology postulates that just because we are stronger than others, we know better and have right on our side. The very first sentence of the September 2002 National Security Strategy (the President's annual laying out to Congress of the country's security objectives) reads, 'The great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty and totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory for the forces of freedom and a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise.'"

Philosophy

Despite his carefully groomed media image, Soros is a controversial figure. Although he has become extremely wealthy as an international investor and currency speculator (his fortune in 2004 was estimated at US$ 7 billion), he freely acknowledges that the current system of financial speculation undermines healthy economic development in many underdeveloped countries.

One could say that Soros is primarily a philosopher, and his successes in business and philanthropy are merely an expression of his views on the world. Certainly Soros sees himself that way, having aspired to be a philosopher since childhood.

Soros periodically has studied under and corresponded with Karl Popper. His Open Society Institute is named after Popper's two volume work, The Open Society and Its Enemies. What some consider Soros' certainty in his political beliefs ironically conflicts with the critical rationalism espoused by Popper.

He has popularized the concepts of dynamic disequilibrium, static disequilibrium, and near-equilibrium conditions. His writings also focus heavily on the concept of reflexivity. His theories have been criticized as having been prompted in part by his ignorance of recent developments in economic theory.

Soros blames many of the world's problems on the failures inherent in market fundamentalism.

From Victor Niederhoffer (under "external links"): "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. I believe in the power of the market to give consumers the quantity and quality they want in timely fashion, in the power of incentive to create a constantly increasing plenty, and in the power of competition to distribute that plenty harmoniously and bountifully to the deserving consumer."

On ethics and business, he believes nothing is his fault. For example although he has been claimed to cause many financial collapses that harm people via his speculation, including in Eastern Europe and Thailand, among other places, he says "As a market participant, I don't need to be concerned with the consequences of my actions." (5)

Soros vs. Bush

For many years, Soros did not involve himself greatly in US politics, but that changed under President George W. Bush. In an interview with The Washington Post on November 11, 2003, Soros said that removing Bush from office was the "central focus of my life" and "a matter of life and death" for which he would willingly sacrifice his entire fortune. Soros gave $3 million to the Center for American Progress, committed $5 million to MoveOn.org, while he and his friend Peter Lewis each gave America Coming Together $10 million. (All were groups that 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 delivered at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. 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 George Bush. Bush was subsequently reelected to a second term as president on November 2, 2004.

Soros has been criticized for his large donations, as he also pushed for the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 which was intended to ban "soft money" contributions to federal election campaigns. Soros has responded that his donations to unaffiliated organizations do not raise the same corruption issues as donations directly to the candidates or political parties.

Ironically, Soros's Harken Energy bailed out Bush in 1986 by buying his ailing oil venture, Spectrum 7.

His most recent book, The Bubble of American Supremacy, was published in January 2004 ([3]).

The Phoenix Group

On the weekend of April 16, 2005, Soros met with 70 likeminded millionaires and billionaires to discuss strategy for the creation of left-leaning thinktanks to compete with conservative institutions such as the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and the Leadership Institute. Former Bill Clinton Commerce Department official Rob Stein's Democracy Alliance will act as a clearinghouse and channel funds to organizations new and old, like David Brock's Media Matters for America and John Podesta's Center for American Progress.

Participants in the meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona have begun to refer to themselves as the Phoenix Group.[4]

Books

Authored or co-authored

  • The Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power (PublicAffairs, 2003) ISBN 1586482173 (paperback; PublicAffairs, 2004; ISBN 1586482920)
  • George Soros on Globalization (PublicAffairs, 2002) ISBN 1586481258 (paperback; PublicAffairs, 2004; ISBN 1586482785)
  • Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism (PublicAffairs, 2000) ISBN 1586480197
  • Science and the Open Society: The Future of Karl Popper's Philosophy by Mark Amadeus Notturno, George Soros (Central European University Press, 2000) ISBN 9639116696 (paperback: Central European University Press, 2000; ISBN 963911670X)
  • The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered (PublicAffairs, 1998) ISBN 1891620274
  • Soros on Soros: Staying Ahead of the Curve (John Wiley, 1995) ISBN 0471120146 (paperback; Wiley, 1995; ISBN 0471119776)
  • Underwriting Democracy: Encouraging Free Enterprise and Democratic Reform Among the Soviets and in Eastern Europe (Free Press, 1991) ISBN 0029302854 (paperback; PublicAffairs, 2004; ISBN 1586482270)
  • Opening the Soviet System (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1990) ISBN 0297820559 (paperback: Perseus Books, 1996; ISBN 0813312051)
  • The Alchemy of Finance (Simon & Schuster, 1988) ISBN 0671662384 (paperback: Wiley, 2003; ISBN 0471445495)

Biographies

  • Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire by Michael T. Kaufman (Alfred A. Knopf, 2002) ISBN 0375405852
  • Soros: The Unauthorized Biography, the Life, Times and Trading Secrets of the World's Greatest Investor by Robert Slater (McGraw-Hill, 1997) ISBN 0786312475

Contributed

  • MoveOn's 50 Ways to Love Your Country: How to Find Your Political Voice and Become a Catalyst for Change by MoveOn.org (Inner Ocean Publishing, 2004) ISBN 193072229X

External links and references

Bio

About

http://www.family.org/cforum/citizenmag/coverstory/a0033418.cfm

Speech

Writings

Interviews

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