Born in Budapest
, Soros survived the German occupation
and moved to the United Kingdom in 1947. He studied at the London School of Economics
and was awarded a bachelor's
, then obtaining a master's
, and eventually a Doctor of Philosophy
(Ph.D.) from University of London
Soros began his business career by taking various jobs at merchant banks
in the United Kingdom and then the United States, before starting his first hedge fund
, Double Eagle, in 1969. Profits from his first fund furnished the seed money to start Soros Fund Management
, his second hedge fund, in 1970. Double Eagle was renamed to Quantum Fund
and was the principal firm Soros advised. At its founding, Quantum Fund had $12 million in assets under management
, and as of 2011 it had $25 billion, the majority of Soros's overall net worth.
His extensive funding of political causes has made him a "bugaboo
of European nationalists
". The New York Times
reported in October 2018 that "conspiracy theories about him have gone mainstream, to nearly every corner of the Republican Party
Numerous American conservatives have promoted false claims that characterize Soros as a singularly dangerous "puppet master" behind many alleged global plots.
Conspiracy theories targeting Soros, who is of Jewish
descent, have often been described as antisemitic
Early life and education
Soros was born in Budapest in the Kingdom of Hungary
to a prosperous 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
His mother Erzsébet (also known as Elizabeth) came from a family that owned a thriving silk shop. His father Tivadar
(also known as Teodoro Ŝvarc) was a lawyer
and a well-known Esperanto
-speaker who edited the Esperanto literary magazine Literatura Mondo
and raised his son to speak the language.
Tivadar had also 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. 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 was 13 years old in March 1944 when Nazi Germany
The Nazis barred Jewish children from attending school, and Soros and the other schoolchildren were made to report to the Judenrat
("Jewish Council"), which had been established during the occupation
. Soros later described this time to writer Michael Lewis
: "The Jewish Council asked the little kids to hand out the deportation notices. I was told to go to the Jewish Council. And there I was given these small slips of paper ... I took this piece of paper to my father. He instantly recognized it. This was a list of Hungarian Jewish lawyers. He said, 'You deliver the slips of paper and tell the people that if they report they will be deported."
Soros did not return to that job; his family survived the war by purchasing documents to say that they were Christians. 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 completing an inventory of a Jewish family's confiscated estate. Tivadar saved not only his immediate family but also many other Hungarian Jews, and Soros later wrote 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.
Early business experience
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."
Singer and Friedlander
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.
F. M. Mayer
In 1956, Soros moved to New York City, where he worked as an arbitrage trader
for F. M. Mayer (1956–59). He specialized in European stocks, which were becoming popular with U.S. institutional investors following the formation of the Coal and Steel Community
, which later became the Common Market
Wertheim and Co.
In 1959, after three years at F. M. Mayer, Soros moved to Wertheim & Co.
. He planned to stay for five years, enough time to save $500,000, after which he intended to return to England to study philosophy.
He worked as an analyst of European securities until 1963.
During this period, Soros developed the theory of reflexivity
to extend the ideas of his tutor at the London School of Economics
, Karl Popper
. Reflexivity posits that market values are often driven by the fallible ideas of participants, not only by the economic fundamentals of the situation. Ideas and events influence each other in reflexive feedback loops. Soros argued that this process leads to markets having procyclical "virtuous" or "vicious" cycles of boom and bust, in contrast to the equilibrium predictions of more standard neoclassical economics.
Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder
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.
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
Double Eagle itself was an offshoot of Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder's First Eagle fund established by Soros and that firm's chairman Henry H. Arnhold
In 1973, the Double Eagle Fund had $12 million and formed the basis of the Soros Fund. George Soros and Jim Rogers
received returns on their share of capital and 20 percent of the profits each year.
Soros Fund Management
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.
It was later renamed the Quantum Fund
, after the physical theory of quantum mechanics
. By that time the value of the fund had grown to $12m, only a small proportion of which was Soros's own money. He and Jim Rogers reinvested their returns from the fund, and also a large part of their 20% performance fees, thereby expanding their stake.
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 July 2011, Soros announced that he had returned funds from outside investors' money (valued at $1 billion) and instead invested funds from his $24.5 billion family fortune, due to changes in U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
disclosure rules, which he felt would compromise his duties of confidentiality to his investors. The fund had at that time averaged over 20% per year compound returns.
In 2013, the Quantum Fund made $5.5 billion, making it again the most successful hedge fund in history. Since its inception in 1973, the fund has generated $40 billion.
The fund announced in 2015 that it would inject $300 million to help finance the expansion of Fen Hotels, an Argentine hotel company. The funds will develop 5,000 rooms over the next three years throughout various Latin American countries.
Economic crisis in the 1990s and 2000s
Soros had been building a huge short position
in pounds sterling for months leading up to September 1992. Soros had recognized the unfavorable position of the United Kingdom in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism
. For Soros, the rate at which the United Kingdom was brought into the European Exchange Rate Mechanism was too high, their inflation was also much too high (triple the German rate), and British interest rates were hurting their asset prices.
Finally, the UK withdrew from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, devaluing
the pound. Soros's profit on the bet was estimated at over $1 billion.
He was dubbed "the man who broke the Bank
The estimated cost of Black Wednesday to the UK Treasury
was £3.4 billion. Stanley Druckenmiller
, who traded under Soros, originally saw the weakness in the pound and stated: "[Soros's] contribution was pushing him to take a gigantic position."
On October 26, 1992, The New York 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."
In 1997, during the Asian financial crisis
, the prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad
, accused Soros of using the wealth under his control to punish the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
for welcoming Myanmar
as a member. With a history of antisemitic
remarks, Mahathir made specific reference to Soros's Jewish background ("It is a Jew who triggered the currency plunge")
and implied Soros was orchestrating the crash as part of a larger Jewish conspiracy. Nine years later, in 2006, Mahathir met with Soros and afterward stated that he accepted that Soros had not been responsible for the crisis.
In 1998's The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered
, Soros explained his role in the crisis as follows:
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.)
In 1999, economist Paul Krugman
was critical of Soros's effect on financial markets.
[N]obody who has read a business magazine in the last few years can be unaware that these days there really are investors who not only move money in anticipation of a currency crisis, but actually do their best to trigger that crisis for fun and profit. These new actors on the scene do not yet have a standard name; my proposed term is 'Soroi'.
In an interview concerning the late-2000s recession
, Soros referred to it as the most serious crisis since the 1930s. According to Soros, market fundamentalism
with its assumption that markets will correct themselves with no need for government intervention in financial affairs has been "some kind of an ideological
excess." In Soros's view, the markets' moods—a "mood" of the markets being a prevailing bias or optimism/pessimism with which the markets look at reality—"actually can reinforce themselves so that there are these initially self-reinforcing but eventually unsustainable and self-defeating boom/bust sequences or bubbles."
In reaction to the late-2000s recession, he founded the Institute for New Economic Thinking
in October 2009. This is a think tank composed of international economic, business, and financial experts, who are mandated to investigate radical new approaches to organizing the international economic and financial system.
Société Générale insider trade
In 1988, Soros was contacted by a French financier named Georges Pébereau, who asked him to participate in an effort to assemble a group of investors to purchase a large number of shares in Société Générale
, a leading French bank that was part of a privatization program (something instituted by the new government under Jacques Chirac
Soros eventually decided against participating in the group effort, opting to personally move forward with his strategy of accumulating shares in four French companies: Société Générale, as well as Suez, Paribas, and the Compagnie Générale d'Électricité.
In 1989, the Commission des Opérations de Bourse
(COB, the French stock exchange regulatory authority) conducted an investigation of whether Soros's transaction in Société Générale should be considered insider trading
. Soros had received no information from the Société Générale and had no insider knowledge of the business, but he did possess knowledge that a group of investors was planning a takeover attempt. Initial investigations found Soros innocent, and no charges were brought forward.
However, the case was reopened a few years later, and the French Supreme Court confirmed the conviction on June 14, 2006,
although it reduced the penalty to €940,000.
Soros denied any wrongdoing, saying news of the takeover was public knowledge
and it was documented that his intent to acquire shares of the company predated his own awareness of the takeover.
In December 2006, he appealed to the European Court of Human Rights
on various grounds, including that the 14-year delay in bringing the case to trial precluded a fair hearing.
On the basis of Article 7
of the European Convention on Human Rights
, stating that no person may be punished for an act that was not a criminal offense at the time that it was committed, the court agreed to hear the appeal.
In October 2011, the court rejected his appeal in a 4–3 decision, saying that Soros had been aware of the risk of breaking insider trading laws.
Soros has been married three times and divorced twice. In 1960, he married Annaliese Witschak (born January 3, 1934). 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:
- Robert Daniel Soros (born 1963): The founder of the Central European University in Budapest, as well as a network of foundations in Eastern Europe. In 1992, he married Melissa Robin Schiff at the Temple Emanu-El in New York City. The Rabbi Dr. David Posner officiated the ceremony.
- Andrea Soros Colombel (born June 11, 1965): The founder and president of Trace Foundation, established in 1993 to promote the cultural continuity and sustainable development of Tibetan communities within China. She is also a founding partner and member of the board of directors of the Acumen Fund, a global venture fund that employs an entrepreneurial approach in addressing the problems of global poverty She is married to Eric Colombel (born October 26, 1963).
- Jonathan Tivadar Soros (born September 10, 1970): A hedge fund manager and political donor. In 2012, he co-founded Friends of Democracy, a super PAC dedicated to reducing the influence of money in politics. In 1997, he married Jennifer Ann Allan (born November 26, 1969).
In 1983, George Soros married Susan Weber
. They divorced in 2005. They have two children:
- Alexander Soros (born 1985): Alexander has gained prominence for his donations to social and political causes, focusing his philanthropic efforts on "progressive causes that might not have widespread support." Alexander led the list of student political donors in the 2010 election cycle.
- Gregory James Soros (born 1988), artist.
In 2008, Soros met Tamiko Bolton;
they married September 21, 2013.
Bolton is the daughter of a Japanese-American
nurse and a retired naval commander, Robert Bolton. She was raised in California, earned an MBA from the University of Miami
, and runs an Internet-based dietary supplement and vitamin-sales company.
Soros's older brother Paul Soros
, a private investor and philanthropist, died on June 15, 2013.
Also an engineer, Paul headed Soros Associates and established the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for Young Americans.
He was married to Daisy Soros
(née Schlenger), who, like her husband, was a Hungarian Jewish
and with whom he had two sons, Peter and Jeffrey.
Peter Soros was married to the former Flora Fraser
, a daughter of Lady Antonia Fraser
and the late Sir Hugh Fraser
and a stepdaughter of the late 2005 Nobel LaureateHarold Pinter
. Fraser and Soros separated in 2009.
In 2005, Soros was a minority partner in a group that tried to buy the Washington Nationals
, a Major League
baseball team. Some Republican lawmakers suggested that they might move to revoke Major League Baseball
's antitrust exemption if Soros bought the team.
In 2008, Soros's name was associated with AS Roma
, an Italian association football team, but the club was not sold. Soros was a financial backer of Washington Soccer L.P., the group that owned the operating rights to Major League Soccer
club D.C. United
when the league was founded in 1995, but the group lost these rights in 2000.
On August 21, 2012, BBC
reported SEC filings showing Soros acquired roughly a 1.9 percent stake in English football club Manchester United
through the purchase of 3.1 million of the club's Class-A shares.
Until the 2004 presidential election, Soros had not been a large donor to U.S. political campaigns. 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 reelection, 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 August 2009, Soros donated $35 million to the state of New York to be earmarked for underprivileged children and given to parents who had benefit cards at the rate of $200 per child aged 3 through 17, with no limit as to the number of children that qualified. An additional $140 million was put into the fund by the state of New York from money they had received from the 2009 federal recovery act
In October 2011, a Reuters
story, "Soros: Not a funder of Wall Street Protests
," was published after several commentators pointed out errors in an earlier Reuters story headlined "Who's Behind the Wall St. Protests?" with a lead stating that the Occupy Wall Street
movement "may have benefited indirectly from the largesse of one of the world's richest men [Soros]." Reuters's follow-up article also reported a Soros spokesman and Adbusters
' co-founder Kalle Lasn
both saying that Adbusters—the reputed catalyst for the first Occupy Wall Street protests—had never received any contributions from Soros, contrary to Reuters's earlier story that reported that "indirect financial links" existed between the two as late as 2010.
In the second quarter of 2020, Soros gave at least $500,000 to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden
, becoming one of the campaign's largest donors.
Central and Eastern Europe
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.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Soros' funding has played an important role in the newly independent countries. A 2017 study found that a grant program by George Soros which awarded funding to over 28,000 scientists in the former Soviet republics shortly after the end of the Soviet Union "more than doubled publications on the margin, significantly induced scientists to remain in the science sector, and had long-lasting [beneficial] impacts."
His funding of pro-democratic programs in Georgia
was considered by Georgian nationalists to be crucial to the success of the Rose Revolution
, although Soros has said that his role has been "greatly exaggerated." Alexander Lomaia
, Secretary of the Georgian Security Council and former Minister of Education and Science, is a former Executive Director of the Open Society Georgia Foundation (Soros Foundation
), overseeing a staff of 50 and a budget of $2.5 million.
Former Georgian foreign minister Salomé Zourabichvili
wrote that institutions like the Soros Foundation were the cradle of democratization and that all the NGOs that gravitated around the Soros Foundation undeniably carried the revolution. She opines that after the revolution the Soros Foundation and the NGOs were integrated into power.
Some Soros-backed pro-democracy initiatives have been banned in Kazakhstan
Ercis Kurtulus, head of the Social Transparency Movement Association (TSHD) in Turkey
, said in an interview 2006 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
1997, 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 June 2009, Soros donated $100 million to Central Europe and Eastern Europe to counter the impact of the economic crisis
on the poor, voluntary groups and non-government organisations.
As the 2018 election period started, the government introduced public posters with a photo of Soros
to create hostility in the general public towards him, using statements such as "Soros wants millions of migrants to live in Hungary", and "Soros wants to dismantle the border fence
". The government also prepared a three-part law plan called the "Stop Soros package" (which followed other various law changes
in the same year, hindering the workings of several international NGOs in Hungary), which would include various steps against NGOs doing volunteer work related to the refugee crisis.
Anti George Soros sentiment graffiti in Resen
, Macedonia (2018). It reads: #Stop Soros #I will profit
In March 2017, six US senators sent a letter to then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
asking that he look into several grants the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have given to groups funded by "left-wing" Soros. According to the Heritage Foundation
, the letter expressed specific concern about Soros' influence on Macedonian
politics, a concern which has also been expressed by members of the conservative Macedonian government.
In the same context, the conservative group Judicial Watch
has filed a Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State and USAID compelling them to release records regarding $5 million transferred from USAID to Soros' Open Society branch in Macedonia. The suit alleges that the money was deliberately used to destabilize the Macedonian government.
The Open Society Foundation has said its activities in Macedonia were aimed at ethnic reconciliation with the Albanian minority and other forms of assistance since the collapse of Yugoslavia.
In January 2017, the "Stop Operation Soros" (SOS) initiative was launched in Macedonia. SOS seeks to present "questions and answers about the way Soros operates worldwide" and invites citizens to contribute to the research. In a press conference held during the same month, Nenad Mircevski, one of the founders of the initiative, stated that SOS would work towards the "de-Soros-ization" of Macedonia.
On May 16, 2018, Soros' Open Society Foundations
announced they would move its office from Budapest to Berlin, blaming the move on an "increasingly repressive" environment in Hungary.
Support of separatist movements
Drug policy reform
Soros has funded worldwide efforts to promote drug policy reform
. In 2008, Soros donated $400,000 to help fund a successful ballot measure in Massachusetts known as the Massachusetts Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative
which decriminalized possession of less than 1 oz (28g) of marijuana in the state. Soros has also funded similar measures in California, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Nevada and Maine.
Among the drug decriminalization groups that have received funding from Soros are the Lindesmith Center
and Drug Policy Foundation
Soros donated $1.4 million to publicity efforts to support California's Proposition 5
in 2008, a failed ballot measure that would have expanded drug rehabilitation
programs as alternatives to prison for persons convicted of non-violent drug-related offenses.
According to remarks in an interview in October 2009, it is Soros' opinion that marijuana is less addictive[compared to?]
but not appropriate for use by children and students. He himself has not used marijuana for years.
Soros has been a major financier of the Drug Policy Alliance
– an organization that promotes cannabis legalization – with roughly $5 million in annual contributions from one of his foundations.
Death and dying
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 right-to-die
advocacy organization Hemlock Society
, commit suicide.
In the same speech, he also endorsed the Oregon Death with Dignity Act
proceeding to help fund its advertising campaign.
Conspiracy theories and threats
After being ousted from office in the wake of the Panama Papers
scandal of 2016, Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson
accused Soros of having bankrolled a conspiracy to remove him from power.
It was later pointed out that Soros himself had also been implicated in the Panama Papers, casting doubt on the prime minister's theory.
Following a December 20, 1998 60 Minutes
in which Soros related his experiences when at the age of 13, the Nazis occupied his native Hungary,
right-wing figures such as Alex Jones
, Dinesh D'Souza
, Glenn Beck
, Roseanne Barr
, James Woods
, Ann Coulter
, Louie Gohmert
, Marjorie Taylor Greene
and Donald Trump Jr.
promulgated the false conspiracy theory, which has been described as anti-Semitic, that Soros was a Nazi collaborator who turned in other Jews and stole their property during the occupation.
In October 2018, Soros was accused of funding a Central American migrant caravan
heading toward America.
The theory that Soros was somehow causing Central American migration at the southern US border apparently dates back to late March 2018, however.
The October 2018 strain of the theory has been described to combine anti-semitism
, anti-immigrant sentiment and "the specter of powerful foreign agents controlling major world events in pursuit of a hidden agenda", connecting Soros and other wealthy individuals of Jewish faith or background to the October caravan. Donald Trump
was among those promoting the conspiracy theory.
Both Cesar Sayoc
, the perpetrator of the October 2018 attempted bombings of prominent Democrats, and Robert Bowers, the perpetrator of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting
, referred to this conspiracy theory on social media before their crimes.
In November 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
denounced Soros while speaking about Turkey
's political purges
, saying: "The person who financed terrorists during the Gezi incidents
is already in prison. And who is behind him? The famous Hungarian Jew Soros. This is a man who assigns people to divide nations and shatter them."
In November 2019, attorney Joseph diGenova
, who is known for promoting conspiracy theories about the Department of Justice
and the FBI
asserted on Fox News without evidence that Soros "controls a very large part of the career foreign service of the United States State Department" and "also controls the activities of FBI agents overseas who work for NGOs – work with NGOs. That was very evident in Ukraine."
Soros's Open Society Foundation described diGenova's claims as "beyond rhetorical ugliness, beyond fiction, beyond ludicrous" and requested that Fox News provide an on-air retraction of diGenova's claims, and stop providing diGenova with a platform.
Although the network never publicly announced it had banned him, diGenova has not appeared on Fox following the incident.
In September 2020, diGenova suggested that Fox News is also controlled by Soros.
A study by Zignal Labs
found that unsubstantiated claims of involvement by Soros were one of three dominant themes in misinformation and conspiracy theories around the 2020 George Floyd protests
, alongside claims that Floyd's death had been faked and claims of involvement by antifa
The Anti-Defamation League
estimated that over four days after Floyd's death, negative Twitter messages about Soros increased from about 20,000 per day to about 500,000 per day.
In July 2020, the President of Azerbaijan
, Ilham Aliyev
, after the border clashes
, stated that the 2018 Armenian revolution
was "another provocation by Soros and his entourage", and called the government of the Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan
the "agents of the Soros Foundation",
pointing out the COVID-19 pandemic
related aid to Armenia
by the Soros Foundation.
Aliyev added that there were "no traces of the Soros Foundation in Azerbaijan", because it had had "cut off their legs" as they were "poisoning the minds of youth", turning them "against their state."
In October 2020, during the height of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh war
, Aliyev labelled Soros's activities a "destructive, movement, and a colonial movement." He also added that Soros "came to power in Armenia today, but failed."
On October 26, 2018, Cesar Sayoc was arrested in Aventura, Florida
, on suspicion of mailing the bombs.
In August 2019, Sayoc was sentenced to 20 years in prison for mailing 16 pipe bombs to 13 victims. None of the devices had exploded.
Political and economic views
Reflexivity, financial markets, and economic theory
Soros's writings focus heavily on the concept of reflexivity
, where the biases of individuals enter into market transactions, potentially changing the fundamentals of the economy. Soros argues that different principles apply in markets depending on whether they are in a "near to equilibrium" or a "far from equilibrium" state. He argues that, when markets are rising or falling rapidly, they are typically marked by disequilibrium rather than equilibrium, and that the conventional economic theory of the market (the "efficient market hypothesis
") does not apply in these situations. Soros has popularized the concepts of dynamic disequilibrium, static disequilibrium, and near-equilibrium conditions.
He has stated that his own financial success has been attributable to the edge accorded by his understanding of the action of the reflexive effect. Reflexivity is based on three main ideas:
- Reflexivity is best observed under special conditions where investor bias grows and spreads throughout the investment arena. Examples of factors that may give rise to this bias include (a) equity leveraging or (b) the trend-following habits of speculators.
- Reflexivity appears intermittently since it is most likely to be revealed under certain conditions; i.e., the character of the equilibrium process is best considered in terms of probabilities.
- Investors' observation of and participation in the capital markets may at times influence valuations and fundamental conditions or outcomes.
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.
This was further amplified by public policy. In the US, home loans were guaranteed by the Federal government. Many national governments saw home ownership as a positive outcome and so introduced grants for first-time home buyers and other financial subsidies, such as the exemption of a primary residence from capital gains taxation. These further encouraged house purchases, leading to further price rises and further relaxation of lending standards.
The concept of reflexivity attempts to explain why markets moving from one equilibrium state to another tend to overshoot or undershoot. Soros's theories were originally dismissed by economists,
but have received more attention after the 2008 crash including becoming the focus of an issue of the Journal of Economic Methodology
Reflexivity in politics
Although the primary manifestation of the reflexive process that Soros discusses is its effects in the financial markets, he has also explored its effects in politics. He has stated that whereas the greatest threats to the "open society
" in the past were from communism and fascism (as discussed in The Open Society and Its Enemies
by his mentor Karl Popper
), the largest current threat is from market fundamentalism
He has suggested that the contemporary domination of world politics and world trade by the United States is a reflexive phenomenon, insofar as the success of military and financial coercion feeds back to encourage increasingly intense applications of the same policies to the point where they will eventually become unsustainable.
View of problems in the free market system
Soros argues that the current system of financial speculation undermines healthy economic development in many underdeveloped countries. He blames many of the world's problems on the failures inherent in what he characterizes as market fundamentalism
Soros's book The New Paradigm for Financial Markets (May 2008), described a "superbubble" that had built up over the past 25 years and was ready to collapse. This was the third in a series of books he has written that have predicted disaster. As he states:
I have a record of crying wolf ... I did it first in The Alchemy of Finance
(in 1987), then in The Crisis of Global Capitalism
(in 1998), and now in this book. So it's three books predicting disaster. [After] the boy cried wolf three times ... the wolf really came.
He ascribes his own success to being able to recognize when his predictions are wrong.
I'm only rich because I know when I'm wrong ... I basically have survived by recognizing my mistakes. I very often used to get backaches due to the fact that I was wrong. Whenever you are wrong you have to fight or [take] flight. When [I] make the decision, the backache goes away.
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."
Views on antisemitism and Israel
When asked about what he thought about Israel
, in The New Yorker
, Soros replied: "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's 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.
Speaking before a 2003 conference of the Jewish Funders Network, Soros said that the administrations of George W. Bush
in the U.S. and Ariel Sharon
in Israel, and even the unintended consequences of some of his own actions, were partially contributing to a new European antisemitism. Soros, citing accusations that he was one of the "Jewish financiers" who, in antisemitic terms, "ruled the world by proxy", suggested that if we change the direction of those policies, then anti-Semitism also will diminish. Abraham Foxman
, national director of the Anti-Defamation League
later said that Soros's comments held a simplistic view, were counterproductive, biased and a bigoted perception of what's out there, and "blamed the victim" when holding Jews responsible for antisemitism
. Jewish philanthropist Michael Steinhardt
, who arranged for Soros's appearance at the conference, clarified, "George Soros does not think Jews should be hated any more than they deserve to be."
Soros has also said that Jews can overcome antisemitism by "giv[ing] up on the tribalness".
I do not subscribe to the myths propagated by enemies of Israel and I am not blaming Jews for anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism predates the birth of Israel. Neither Israel's policies nor the critics of those policies should be held responsible for anti-Semitism. At the same time, I do believe that attitudes toward Israel are influenced by Israel's policies, and attitudes toward the Jewish community are influenced by the pro-Israel lobby's success in suppressing divergent views.
In 2017, Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz
filed a $10-million lawsuit against Soros, alleging that Soros had influenced the government of Guinea
to freeze Steinmetz's company BSG Resources out of iron ore mining contracts in the African country due to "long-standing animus toward the state of Israel".
Steinmetz claims that Soros engaged in a "smear" campaign against him and his companies and blames Soros for scrutiny of him by American, Israeli, Swiss, and Guinean authorities.
Soros called Steinmetz's suit "frivolous and entirely false" and said that it was "a desperate PR stunt meant to deflect attention from BSGR's mounting legal problems across multiple jurisdictions".
During an award ceremony for Imre Kertész
, Soros said that the victims of violence and abuse were becoming "perpetrators of violence", suggesting that this model explained Israel's behavior towards the Palestinians, which led to walkouts and Soros being booed.
In July 2017, a Hungarian billboard campaign backed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán
, which was considered to be anti-semitic by the country's Jewish groups, vilified Soros as an enemy of the state, using the slogan "Let's not allow Soros to have the last laugh".
The campaign was estimated to have cost 5.7bn forints (then US$21 million).
According to the Israeli ambassador the campaign "evokes sad memories but also sows hatred and fear", a reference to Hungary's role in the deportation of 500,000 Jews during the Holocaust.
Lydia Gall of Human Rights Watch
asserted that it was reminiscent of Nazi posters during the Second World War featuring "'the laughing Jew'".
Orbán and his government's representative said they had a "zero tolerance" of antisemitism, explaining the posters were aiming to persuade voters Soros was a "national security risk".
Hours later, in an apparent attempt to ally Israel with Hungary, Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
issued a "clarification", denouncing Soros, stating that he "continuously undermines Israel's democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself".
Soros' son Alexander
said in an interview that his father cares about Israel, and that he "would like to see Israel in Yitzhak Rabin
's image. His views are more or less the common views in Meretz
and in the Labor Party
." According to Alexander, Soros supports a two-state solution
. The younger Soros recounts that after his bar mitzvah
in 1998, his father told him: "If you're serious about being Jewish, you might want to consider immigrating to Israel."
In a 2018 interview with The New York Times, Alex Soros, the son of George Soros, when asked about why his father fights for an open society, Soros replied that in a non-Jewish state, a Jew can only feel safe when other minorities are protected, which is one of most important driving forces why his father has been active in his philanthropy:
But he had always “identified firstly as a Jew,” and his philanthropy was ultimately an expression of his Jewish identity, in that he felt a solidarity with other minority groups and also because he recognized that a Jew could only truly be safe in a world in which all minorities were protected. Explaining his father’s motives, he said, “The reason you fight for an open society is because that’s the only society that you can live in, as a Jew — unless you become a nationalist and only fight for your own rights in your own state.”
Views on the U.S.
On November 11, 2003, in an interview with The Washington Post
, Soros said that removing President George W. Bush from office was the "central focus of my life" and "a matter of life and death". He said he would sacrifice his entire fortune to defeat Bush "if someone guaranteed it".
Soros gave $3 million to the Center for American Progress
, $2.5 million to MoveOn.org
, and $20 million
to America Coming Together
. These groups worked to support Democrats in the 2004 election
. On September 28, 2004, he dedicated more money to the campaign and kicked off his own multistate tour with a speech, "Why We Must Not Re-elect President Bush",
delivered at the National Press Club
in Washington, D.C. The online transcript of this speech received many views after Dick Cheney
accidentally referred to FactCheck
.org as "factcheck.com" in the vice presidential debate, causing the owner of that domain to redirect all traffic to Soros's site.
His 2003 book, The Bubble of American Supremacy
, was a forthright critique of the Bush administration's "War on Terror" as misconceived and counterproductive, and a polemic against the re-election of Bush. He explains the title in the closing chapter by pointing out the parallels in this political context with the self-reinforcing reflexive processes that generate bubbles in stock prices.
When Soros was asked in 2006 about his statement in The Age of Fallibility
that "the main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States", he responded that "it happens to coincide with the prevailing opinion in the world. And I think that's rather shocking for Americans to hear. The United States sets the agenda for the world. And the rest of the world has to respond to that agenda. By declaring a 'war on terror' after September 11, we set the wrong agenda for the world ... When you wage war, you inevitably create innocent victims."
In 2017, Soros described Donald Trump
as a con man, and predicted Trump would fail because he believed Trump's ideas were self-contradictory.
Soros also said he believed Trump was preparing for a trade war
and expected financial markets to do poorly.
Views on Europe
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
, and Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga
Soros criticized Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán
and his handling of the European migrant crisis
in 2015: "His plan treats the protection of national borders as the objective and the refugees as an obstacle. Our plan treats the protection of refugees as the objective and national borders as the obstacle."
Soros expected that Brexit
would fail and the Premiership of Theresa May
would last only a short time.
Soros is opposed to Brexit and donated £400,000 to the anti-Brexit 'Best for Britain' group.
Soros also hosted a dinner for Conservative donors at his London home to encourage them to follow his lead. Soros's Open Society Foundations also donated a total of £303,000 to two pro-EU organizations, the European Movement UK and Scientists for EU, and a center-right think-tank, Bright Blue.
In 2018, Soros highlighted that Europe faces major challenges related to immigration, austerity, and nations leaving the EU.
He holds that Europe is facing an existential crisis, in view of the rise of populism, the refugee crisis and a growing rift between Europe and the United States.
Soros has also stated that "the euro has many unresolved problems" which "must not be allowed to destroy the European Union". He advocated replacing the notion of a multi-speed Europe by the aim of a "multi-track Europe" that would allow member states a wider variety of choices.
Views on relations between Europe and Africa
In view of the possibility of a further increase of the number of refugees from Africa to Europe, Soros proposes that the European Union devise a "Marshall Plan for Africa" (see Marshall Plan
), fostering education and employment in Africa in order to reduce emigration.
Views on China
Soros has expressed concern about the growth of Chinese economic and political power, saying, "China has risen very rapidly by looking out for its own interests ... They have now got to accept responsibility for world order and the interests of other people as well." Regarding the political gridlock in America, he said, "Today, China has not only a more vigorous economy but actually a better functioning government than the United States."
In July 2015, Soros stated that a "strategic partnership between the US and China could prevent the evolution of two power blocks that may be drawn into military conflict".
In January 2016, during an interview at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Soros stated that "[a] hard landing is practically unavoidable". Chinese state media responded by stating "Soros' challenge to the RMB and Hong Kong dollar are doomed to fail, without any doubt."
Views on Russia and Ukraine
In May 2014, Soros told CNN's Fareed Zakaria
: "I set up a foundation in Ukraine before Ukraine became independent from Russia. And the foundation has been functioning ever since and played an important part in events now."
In January 2015, Soros said that "Europe needs to wake up and recognize that it is under attack from Russia." He also urged Western countries to expand economic sanctions against Russia
for its support of separatists in eastern Ukraine.
In January 2015, Soros called on the European Union to give $50 billion of bailout money to Ukraine.
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's "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's 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's charities.
Wealth and philanthropy
George Soros speaks to the LSE
alumni society in Malaysia.
As of March 2020, Forbes
magazine listed Soros as the 162nd richest person in the world, with a net worth
of $8.3 billion.
He has also donated 64% of his original fortune, making him the most generous giver (when measured as a percentage of net worth), and distributed more than $15 billion through his Open Society Foundations (an international grantmaking network that supports advancing justice, education, public health and independent media).
Soros's philanthropic funding includes efforts to promote non-violent democratization
in the post-Soviet states
. These efforts, mostly in Central
and Eastern Europe, occur primarily through the Open Society Foundations
(originally Open Society Institute or OSI) and national Soros Foundations, which sometimes go under other names (such as the Stefan Batory Foundation
in Poland). As of 2003, PBS
estimated that he had given away a total of $4 billion.
The OSI says it has spent about $500 million annually in recent years.
George Soros has made his mark as an enormously successful speculator, wise enough to largely withdraw when still way ahead of the game. The bulk of his enormous winnings is now devoted to encouraging transitional and emerging nations to become "open societies", open not only in the sense of freedom of commerce but—more important—tolerant of new ideas and different modes of thinking and behavior.
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.
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 2
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 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.
In July 2020, Soros's Foundations announced plans to give $220 million in grants for racial justice groups, criminal justice reform and civic engagement.
Honors and awards
In 2008, he was inducted into Institutional Investors Alpha's Hedge Fund Manager Hall of Fame along with Alfred Jones
, Bruce Kovner
, David Swensen
, Jack Nash
, James Simons
, Julian Roberston
, Kenneth Griffin
, Leon Levy
, Louis Bacon
, Michael Steinhardt
, Paul Tudor Jones
, Seth Klarman
and Steven A. Cohen
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.
Soros was the Financial Times
Person of the Year for 2018, with the FT
describing him as "a standard bearer for liberal democracy, an idea under siege from populists".
In April 2019, Soros was awarded the Ridenhour Prize
In his acceptance address Soros said: "In my native Hungary
, the government of [Prime Minister] Viktor Orbán
has turned me into the super villain of an alleged plot to destroy the supposed Christian identity of the Hungarian nation... [I] donate the prize money associated with this award to the Hungarian Spectrum
, an online English-language publication that provides daily updates on Hungarian
politics. It renders an important service by exposing to the world [in English] what Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is telling his own people [in Hungarian]. It [Hungarian Spectrum] deserves to be better known and supported."
Publications and scholarship
George Soros has written many books, articles, and papers on economics, finance, stock trading, and geopolitics
Books authored or co-authored
- The Tragedy of the European Union: Disintegration or Revival? (PublicAffairs, 2014). ISBN 978-1-61039-421-5.
- Financial Turmoil in Europe and the United States: Essays (PublicAffairs, 2012). ISBN 978-1-61039-161-0.
- The Soros Lectures at the Central European University (PublicAffairs, 2010) ISBN 978-1-58648-885-7.
- The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What it Means (PublicAffairs, 2008). ISBN 978-1-58648-683-9.
- The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror (PublicAffairs, 2006) ISBN 978-1-58648-359-3.
- Underwriting Democracy: Encouraging Free Enterprise and Democratic Reform Among the Soviets and in Eastern Europe (Free Press, 1991) ISBN 978-0-02-930285-9 (paperback; PublicAffairs, 2004; ISBN 978-1-58648-227-5)
- George Soros on Globalization (PublicAffairs, 2002) ISBN 978-1-58648-125-4 (paperback; PublicAffairs, 2005; ISBN 978-1-58648-278-7)
- The Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power (PublicAffairs, 2003) ISBN 978-1-58648-217-6 (paperback; PublicAffairs, 2004; ISBN 978-1-58648-292-3)
- Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism (PublicAffairs, 2001) ISBN 978-1-58648-019-6.
- With Mark Amadeus Notturno, Science and the Open Society: The Future of Karl Popper's Philosophy (Central European University Press, 2000) ISBN 978-963-9116-69-6 (paperback: Central European University Press, 2000; ISBN 978-963-9116-70-2)
- The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered (PublicAffairs, 1998) ISBN 978-1-891620-27-0.
- Soros on Soros: Staying Ahead of the Curve (John Wiley, 1995) ISBN 978-0-471-12014-8 (paperback; Wiley, 1995; ISBN 978-0-471-11977-7)
- Opening the Soviet System (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1990) ISBN 978-0-297-82055-0 (paperback: Perseus Books, 1996; ISBN 978-0-8133-1205-7)
- The Alchemy of Finance (Simon & Schuster, 1988) ISBN 978-0-671-66238-7 (paperback: Wiley, 2003; ISBN 978-0-471-44549-4)
- George Soros, "Why I support legal marijuana", The Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2010.
- George Soros, "The Crisis and the Euro", The New York Review of Books, August 19, 2010.
- George Soros, "Paulson Cannot be Allowed a Blank Cheque". Archived from the original on September 26, 2008. Retrieved May 3, 2012., Financial Times, September 24, 2008
- George Soros, "On Israel, America and AIPAC", The New York Review of Books, April 12, 2007.
- George Soros, "The Bubble of American Supremacy", The Atlantic, December 2003, also audio recording of this article via Assistive Media, read by Grover Gardner, 18 minutes.
- George Soros, "Soros on Brazil", Financial Times, August 13, 2002.
- George Soros, "Bitter Thoughts with Faith in Russia", Moskovskiye Novosti (Moscow News), translated from the Russian by Olga Kryazheva, February 27, 2000.
- George Soros, "The Capitalist Threat", The Atlantic Monthly, February 1997.
- A half-hour Opinions television lecture by Soros was transmitted by Channel 4 on August 1, 1993 and published the following day in The Times as "Why Appeasement Must Not Have Another Chance"
- ^ /
ˈsɒrɒs/; Hungarian: Soros György, pronounced [ˈʃoroʃ ˈɟørɟ]
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