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GS Article - for Nickoo

  1. cerhob

    18,560 Posts.


    Some of us have been giving you a hard time - here's an article for you. Posted on Tue, Apr. 09, 2002

    George Soros: The sound of one billionaire lashing
    The currency speculator turned philanthropist took exception to the President's foreign policy here yesterday.
    By Miriam Hill
    Inquirer Staff Writer

    Some billionaires, like Warren Buffett, are known for their investment philosophy.
    Some billionaires, like Bill Gates, are feared for their market dominance.

    And some billionaires, like George Soros, can sound more like revolutionaries than pinstriped denizens of Wall Street.

    At the University of Pennsylvania yesterday to promote his new book, George Soros on Globalization, Soros lashed out at the Bush administration's foreign policy.

    The President has fallen into a trap set by terrorists who wanted this country to go to war and sow the seeds for further acts of terrorism, he said.

    "If we assess the foreign policy accomplishments of the Bush administration since Sept. 11, the scorecard is quite dismal," Soros said. "There are some people in the Bush administration who have the same mentality as Arafat or Sharon. I can name names, like Ashcroft, Cheney and Rumsfeld, although that is considered impolite."

    Soros, who amassed a fortune currently worth $6.9 billion by speculating in financial markets, has since turned his sights to philanthropy. His Open Society Institute and network of foundations around the world spend about $500 million yearly, much of it dedicated to encouraging democracy and economic growth in developing countries.

    Soros, 71, earned both admiration and scorn through his hedge fund, the Quantum Fund, which earned 31 percent a year over its 32 years. He achieved the stunning gains mostly through speculating in foreign currencies - a risky game that can wreak economic havoc. In 1992, he earned $1 billion in a single day by betting - correctly - that the British pound would fall in value.

    His critics say he profited unfairly because his predictions that currencies were overvalued led others to sell them, allowing him to reap big gains as well.

    Remember the 1997 Asian economic crisis?

    Some world leaders thought Soros' bets against the Thai baht caused it, though he does not agree.

    So now he's taking on the Bush administration, no holds barred.

    "Although the terrorist threat is real, and we must defend against it, we are going about it the wrong way. What makes the situation so dangerous is that nobody dares to say so. The nation is endangered, therefore it is unpatriotic to criticize our leader," Soros said. "That is not what has made this country great. The strength of this country lies in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights and the freedom of speech and thought."

    Instead of acting like the world's greatest power, the United States is acting out of fear, he said.

    "We are acting like a nation that is fighting for its survival and not like the leader of the global capitalist system that has a responsibility for making the system work better," Soros said. "We are still in pursuit of dominance instead of living up to the responsibilities that dominance imposes. I believe that is how the terrorists wanted us to act. After all, their aim is to destroy the system - killing innocent people is only the means."

    He offered few specific solutions but argued for a change in philosophy. Creative approaches to promoting democracy and economic growth - his foundation once bought hundreds of copiers to help spread free speech in Hungary - are the answer, he said.

    "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."

    Soros withdrew from an active role at Quantum in 2000 after big losses on investments in Nasdaq stocks and the Russian ruble.

    Two students asked him about the contradiction in his life - a ruthless speculator who profited with little concern for how unstable currencies affected people, but now wants to spend that money doing good.

    He said government policies, not his actions, hurt the economies involved.

    "I was used as a scapegoat for the government's action."

    He enjoyed the notoriety. He is better known in China, where they call him the Crocodile, than in the United States.

    "Watch out," he said as he left for a reception on campus. "The crocodile is coming.


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