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George Soros

George Soros (born August 12, 1930) is a Hungarian-born American businessman. He is famous as a currency speculator and a philanthropist. He is also the son of the Esperanto writer Tivadar Soros.

Table of contents
1 Early Life
2 "The Man Who Broke the Bank of England"
3 Critics
4 Quotes
5 Philanthropy
6 Books
7 External Links and references

Early Life

Soros was born and lived in Hungary until 1946, when he escaped Hungary for the West by participating in an Esperanto youth congress. As a young man, Soros traded currencies in the black market during the Nazi occupation of Hungary.

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 intention was to earn enough money on Wall Street to support himself as an author and philosopher. He is the chairman of Soros Fund Management and of the Open Society Institute.

"The Man Who Broke the Bank of England"

Soros became instantly famous on September 22, 1992, when, believing the Pound Sterling was overvalued, he speculated heavily against it. The Bank of England was forced to withdraw the currency out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, and Soros earned an estimated US$1 billion in the process. He was dubbed "the man who broke the Bank of England." In 1997, under similar circumstances, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad accused Soros of bringing down the Malaysian currency, the ringgit.

Despite his carefully groomed media image, Soros is a controversial figure because on the one hand, as an international investor and currency speculator, he has become extremely wealthy (his fortune in 2000 was estimated at US$ five billion). On the other, he freely acknowledges that the current system of financial speculation undermines healthy economic development in many underdeveloped countries.

Critics

Critics point out that Soros plays the currency markets through Quantum Fund, his privately-owned investment fund 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 avoids paying taxes, and also hides the nature of his investors, and what he does with their money.

Soros has critics on both the left and right. American conservatives dislike his dump-Bush campaign, and hawkish friends of Israel dislike his rhetoric with inflammatory comparisons to Nazi Germany and Yasser Arafat.

Former National Review contributor and ex-House Republican staffer Phil Brennan called Soros a "socialist billionaire".[1] Lowell Ponte of David Horowitz's Frontpage called Soros a "Billionaire for the Left".[1] Scott Shore of IntellectualConservative.com called him a "Soft Money Marxist."[1] He has also been called a self-hating anti-Semite.

At a Jewish forum in New York City Soros reportedly said

"There is a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe. The policies of the Bush administration and the Sharon administration contribute to that," Soros said. "Its not specifically anti-Semitism, but it does manifest itself in anti- Semitism as well. Im critical of those policies."

"If we change that direction, then anti-Semitism also will diminish," he said. "I cant see how one could confront it directly."

"Im also very concerned about my own role because the new anti-Semitism holds that the Jews rule the world," said Soros, whose projects and funding have influenced governments and promoted various political causes around the world.

"As an unintended consequence of my actions, "I also contribute to that image."[1]

It should be noted that this could be a result of Soro's Popperian tendency toward self-criticism.

Quotes

"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."

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.

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 is the "central focus of my life," and "a matter of life and death." Towards that goal, Soros and a partner committed $5 million to MoveOn.org, a liberal activist group, bringing to $15.5 million the total of his personal contributions to oust Bush. He has also written a new book, The Bubble of American Supremacy, which will be published in January, 2004. [1]

Soros is married with five children.

Books

External Links and references