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Who is George Soros?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated May 23, 2024
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George Soros is an American investor, born in Hungary in 1930. He is one of the hundred richest people in the world, with a net worth of somewhere around $9 billion US Dollars (USD). In addition to his investments, George Soros is also well known for his political activism and philanthropy, and his advocacy of democracy abroad.

George Soros lived in Hungary during his early life, leaving during the Soviet occupation in the wake of Nazi control of Hungary. He moved to England in 1947, and received a degree from the London School of Economics five years later. He went on to work at Singer & Friedlander Bank in London.

George Soros eventually moved to America in the mid-1950s, taking work in New York City with F.M. Mayer and Wertheim & Company. During this time he continued to refine his theories of economics, particularly his theory of reflexivity in markets, which basically stated that the very act of valuing a market affects the valuation in either a vicious or virtuous cycle. In the 1960s he took work at Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder, rising to vice-president. In the late-1960s he began investing in a fund set up for him by the company, and by the end of the 1960s he was running another fund as well.

In 1973 he went his own way, setting up his own investment company, which would become Quantum Fund. His early goal was to make $500,000 USD within five years, allowing him to settle into a life of philosophizing and writing. In that five year period, rather than $500,000 USD he found himself worth in excess of $11 billion USD.

George Soros is perhaps best known for his activities in the currency exchange markets. He is infamous for being the man who “broke” the Bank of England. On Black Wednesday, 1992, the Bank of England had failed to float its currency or to raise its interest rates. One of Soros’ partners, Stanley Druckenmiller, saw the weak position this put the pound in. George Soros then capitalized on this by selling short an enormous amount of pounds, in excess of $10 billion USD worth. When the Bank of England did finally devalue the pound in response, George Soros made more than $1.1 billion USD in profit.

Since the 1970s, George Soros has been involved in a number of philanthropic projects throughout the world. His best known is likely the Open Society Institute, which promotes non-violent democratization throughout the world. His donations tend to draw attention for being very large, and it is estimated he has given away more than $6 billion USD to date. Some highlights include a pledge of more than $50 million USD to Jeffrey Sachs’ initiative to put an end to the worst of the poverty in Africa, the Millennium Promise, and $100 million USD for internet infrastructure in Russia. George Soros is also known for his political activism in recent years. In 2004, he came out adamantly against President George W. Bush’s re-election, donating more than $23 million USD to various groups trying to defeat Bush.

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Discussion Comments
By christym — On Mar 09, 2011

I'm not sure how I feel about George Soros -- I've heard that he has some strong views about our troops in Iraq, even calling them "oppressors." While he is totally entitled to his opinion, I think that being so aggressive might not be the best way to get his point across.

By dill1971 — On Mar 07, 2011

Did you know that Soros has been convicted of insider trading? A French court fined him over 2 million dollars, even after he tried to appeal it.

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