|Who is it?||Actor|
|Birth Day||August 12, 1930|
|Birth Place||Bronx, New York City, New York, United States|
|Age||90 YEARS OLD|
|Citizenship||Hungary, United States|
|Alma mater||London School of Economics|
|Occupation||Investor, hedge fund manager, author, and philanthropist|
|Known for||Managing Soros Fund Management Founding the Open Society Foundations Advising the Quantum Fund|
|Spouse(s)||Annaliese Witschak (m. 1960; div. 1983) Susan Weber (m. 1983; div. 2005) Tamiko Bolton (m. 2013)|
|Children||5, including Jonathan and Alexander|
|Relatives||Paul Soros (brother)|
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.)
Soros was born in Budapest in the Kingdom of Hungary to a well-to-do non-observant Jewish family, who, like many upper-middle class Hungarian Jews at the time, were uncomfortable with their roots. Soros has wryly described his home as a Jewish antisemitic home. His mother Erzsébet (also known as Elizabeth) came from a family that owned a thriving silk shop. His father Tivadar (also known as Teodoro) was a Lawyer and had been a prisoner of war during and after World War I until he escaped from Russia and rejoined his family in Budapest. The two married in 1924. Tivadar was an Esperantist Writer and taught Soros to speak Esperanto in his childhood. In 1936 Soros's family changed their name from the German-Jewish Schwartz to Soros, as protective camouflage in increasingly antisemitic Hungary. Tivadar liked the new name because it is a palindrome and because of its meaning. In Hungarian, soros means "next in line," or "designated successor"; in Esperanto it means "will soar."
Soros did not return to that job; his family purchased documents to say that they were Christians, thereby allowing them to survive the war. Later that year at age 14, Soros posed as the Christian Godson of an official of the collaborationist Hungarian government's Ministry of Agriculture, who himself had a Jewish wife in hiding. On one occasion, rather than leave the 14 year old alone, the official took Soros with him while he inventoried a rich Jewish family's estate, though Soros did not take part. Tivadar not only saved his immediate family but also many other Hungarian Jews, and George would later write that 1944 had been "the happiest [year] of his life," for it had given him the opportunity to witness his father's heroism. In 1945, Soros survived the Siege of Budapest in which Soviet and German forces fought house to house through the city.
In 1947, Soros immigrated to England and became a student at the London School of Economics. While a student of the Philosopher Karl Popper, Soros worked as a railway porter and as a waiter, and once received £40 from a Quaker charity. Soros would sometimes stand at Speakers' Corner lecturing about the virtues of internationalism in Esperanto. His father, a committed internationalist, had taught him the language. 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 seaside, 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." That job was an entry-level position in Singer & Friedlander.
Soros earned a Bachelor of Science in philosophy in 1951, and a Master of Science in philosophy in 1954, both from the London School of Economics.
In 1954, Soros began his financial career at the merchant bank Singer & Friedlander of London. He worked as a clerk and later moved to the arbitrage department. A fellow employee, Robert Mayer, suggested he apply at his father's brokerage house, F.M. Mayer of New York.
In 1959, after three years at F.M. Mayer, he moved to Wertheim & Co. as an analyst of European Securities, where he stayed until 1963. He planned to stay for five years, enough time to save $500,000, after which he intended to return to England to study philosophy. During this period, Soros developed the theory of reflexivity based on the ideas of his tutor at the London School of Economics, Karl Popper. Reflexivity posited that market values are often driven by the fallible ideas of participants, not only by the economic fundamentals of the situation. Reflexive feedback loops are created where ideas influence events and events influence ideas. Soros further argued that this leads to markets having procyclical "virtuous or vicious" cycles of boom and bust, in contrast to the equilibrium predictions of more standard neoclassical economics."
Soros has been married three times and divorced twice. In 1960 he married Annaliese Witschak. Annaliese was an ethnic German immigrant who had been orphaned during the war. Although she was not Jewish, she was well liked by Soros's parents as she had also experienced the privation and displacement brought about by World War II. They divorced in 1983. They had three children:
From 1963 to 1973, Soros's experience as a vice President at Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder resulted in little enthusiasm for the job; Business was slack following the introduction of the interest equalization tax, which undermined the viability of Soros's European trading. He spent the years from 1963 to 1966 with his main focus on the revision of his philosophy dissertation. In 1966 he started a fund with $100,000 of the firm's money to experiment with his trading strategies. But he was principally motivated by a Desire to assert himself as an investor to profit from his reflexivity insights.
In 1969 Soros set up the Double Eagle hedge fund with $4m of investors' capital including $250,000 of his own money. It was based in Curaçao, Dutch Antilles.
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, and began funding dissident movements behind the Iron Curtain.
In 1973, due to perceived conflicts of interest limiting his ability to run the two funds, Soros resigned from the management of the Double Eagle Fund. He then established the Soros Fund and gave Investors in the Double Eagle Fund the option of transferring to that or staying with Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder.
According to Waldemar A. Nielsen, an authority on American philanthropy, "[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 outside world." 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. In 1984, he founded his first Open Society Institute in Hungary with a budget of $3 million.
Soros 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. He received the Yale International Center for Finance Award from the Yale School of Management in 2000 as well as an honorary degree in economics from the University of Bologna in 1995, the oldest university in the world.
By 1981 the fund had grown to $400m, and then a 22% loss in that year and substantial redemptions by some of the Investors reduced it to $200m.
In 1983, George Soros married Susan Weber, twenty-five years his junior. They divorced in 2005. They have two children:
Soros played a role in the peaceful transition from communism to democracy in Hungary (1984–89) and provided a substantial endowment to Central European University in Budapest. The Open Society Foundations has active programs in more than 60 countries around the world with total expenditures currently averaging approximately $600 million a year.
A recent 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 the collaterals 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, and prices rose higher still.
On 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."
The Project on Death in America, active from 1994 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." 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. In the same speech, he also endorsed the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, proceeding to help fund its advertising campaign.
Some Soros-backed pro-democracy initiatives have been banned in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. 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." In 1997, Soros closed 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 1999, Economist Paul Krugman was critical of Soros's effect on financial markets.
Conservatives, meanwhile, picked up on the thread in the late 2000s, spearheaded by Fox News. Bill O'Reilly gave an almost ten-minute monologue on Soros in 2007, calling him an "extremist" and claiming he was "off-the-charts dangerous".
According to National Review Online the Open Society Institute gave $20,000 in September 2002 to the Defense Committee of Lynne Stewart, the Lawyer who has defended controversial, poor, and often unpopular defendants 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" but claimed later requests for support were declined.
In 2003 former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker wrote in the foreword of Soros's book The Alchemy of Finance:
Soros was not a large donor to U.S. 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 (tax-exempt groups under the United States tax code, 26 U.S.C. § 527). The groups aimed to defeat President George W. Bush. 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 November 2005, Soros said: "My personal opinion is there's no alternative but to give Kosovo independence." Soros has helped fund the non-profit group called Independent Diplomat. It represented Kosovo, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (under military occupation by Turkey since 1974), Somaliland and the Polisario Front of Western Sahara.
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.
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—noting that Soros had given $742 million to projects in the U.S., and given away a total of more than $7 billion.
In 2008, he was inducted into Institutional Investors Alpha's Hedge Fund Manager Hall of Fame along with David Swensen, Louis Bacon, Steven Cohen, Kenneth Griffin, Paul Tudor Jones, Seth Klarman, Michael Steinhardt, Jack Nash, James Simmons, Alfred Jones, Leon Levy, Julian Roberston, and Bruce Kovner.
In February 2009, Soros said the world financial system had in effect disintegrated, adding that there was no prospect of a near-term resolution to the crisis. "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."
In October 2010, Soros donated $1 million to support California's Proposition 19.
In October 2011, Soros drafted an open letter entitled "As concerned Europeans we urge Eurozone Leaders to unite," in which he calls for a stronger economic government for Europe using federal means (Common EU treasury, Common fiscal supervision, etc.) and warns against the danger of nationalistic solutions to the economic crisis. The letter was co-signed by Javier Solana, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Andrew Duff, Emma Bonino, Massimo d'Alema, Vaira Vike-Freiberga.
On September 27, 2012, Soros announced that he was donating $1 million to the super PAC backing President Barack Obama's reelection Priorities USA Action.
When asked about what he thought about Israel, in the New Yorker, Soros replied that "I don't deny the Jews to a right to a national existence – but I don't want anything to do with it." According to hacked emails released in 2016, Soros' Open Society Foundation has a self-described objective of "challenging Israel's racist and anti-democratic policies" in international forums, in part by questioning Israel's reputation as a democracy. He has funded NGOs which have been actively critical of Israeli policies including groups that campaign for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
In January 2014, Soros was ranked number 1 in LCH Investments list of top 20 managers having posting gains of almost $42 billion since the launch of his Quantum Endowment Fund in 1973.
In July 2015, Soros stated that Putin's annexation of Crimea was a challenge to the "prevailing world order," specifically the European Union. He hypothesized that Putin wants to "destabilize all of Ukraine by precipitating a financial and political collapse for which he can disclaim responsibility, while avoiding occupation of a part of eastern Ukraine, which would then depend on Russia for economic support." In November 2015, Russia banned the Open Society Foundations (OSF) and the Open Society Institute (OSI)-- two pro-democracy charities founded by Soros—stating they posed a "threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation and the security of the state." In January 2016, 53 books related to Soros' "Renewal of Humanitarian Education" program were withdrawn at the Vorkuta Mining and Economic College in the Komi Republic, with 427 additional books seized for shredding. A Russian intergovernmental letter released in December 2015 stated that Soros' charities were "forming a perverted perception of history and making ideological directives, alien to Russian ideology, popular". Most of these books were published with funds donated by Soros' charities.
In January 2016 at an economic forum in Sri Lanka, Soros predicted a financial crisis akin to 2008 based on the state of global currency, stock and commodity markets as well as the sinking Chinese yuan.
In July 2017, Soros was elected an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy (HonFBA), the United Kingdom's national academy for the humanities and social sciences.