The top Tuesday of the morning in Paris, in late May, György Soros, the world's second most famous billionaire in New York (but worth billions of HUF more than the other), deals with the European Council's help with foreign affairs to find it a decade ago. Soros from Hungary, who has invested his assets in a hedge fund and who is now a full-time charitable, political activist and freelance statesman, is here to share his thoughts about rescuing the European Union.
Apart from the collar of his blue collar collar, wearing a dark suit wearing a dark suit, Soros is beginning to take decisive steps for 88 years, playing tennis a few times a week. But there are discounts for age. He sits in his speech and uses a table lamp to illuminate the text. He handles the pages with his right hand while keeping his left hand on his left knee as if he rises up. There are moments when it seems to lose its place, though never.
He barely recognizes the audience, which includes President of Serbia and Prime Minister of Albania, except that he says, "I think this is a place where we can discuss how to save Europe." In addition to urging the European Union to devote greater support to Africa, which it claims to improve the asylum crisis, which has resulted in much of Europe's recent political upheavals, its remarks are more descriptive than prescriptive. The European Union – he says – faces an "existing crisis". Briefly touching Europe's economic outlook, he says, "We may start another big financial crisis." Partially in response to your warning, the Dow Jones index on Wall Street is nearly 400 points that day.
Soros is usually the biggest speculator known to Wall Streetand although he has stopped managing others for years, he reports on the real-time response of the reaction that he continues to be able to move the markets. The attention given to the comment also subtly emphasizes the persistent frustration of his life: his financial thoughts still bear more weight than his political thoughts.
Yet the political empire, where Soros made the most bizarre bet. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, he spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the former Soviet bloc countries to promote civil society and liberal democracy. Private initiative without a historical precedent. It was also a gamble that the part of the world that was best known for tyrannism includes thoughts such as government accountability and ethnic tolerance.
In London, in the 1950s, Soros was a student of the displaced Austrian philosopher Karl Popper, who supported the concept of "open society" in which individual freedom, pluralism and free inquiry prevailed. Popper's concept became Soros's case.
This is a serious matter today. Under Vladimir Putin, Russia returns to autocracy, Poland and Hungary move in the same direction. With the rise of Donald Trump in the United States, where Soros is an important donor to Democratic candidates and progressive groups, and the growing strength of right-wing populist parties in Western Europe, Soros's vision of liberal democracy is in jeopardy with its longstanding strengths.
Nationalism and tribulation revive, obstacles rise and break, and Soros faces the possibility that the goal to which most of its riches and the last chapter of his life are devoted ends in failure. Not only that, he is also anxious to be the designated gazelle, Jewishness and career of the anti-globalization counterattack for the finances, which is a world-wide imagination for reactionaries.
"I stand for the principles of winning or losing," Soros says. But he continues: "Unfortunately, I'm losing too many places in too many places."
The night before Paris's speech, Soros dine at the Bristol Hotel, which is usually one of the city's most elegant addresses, on the street of the Elysées Palace (though this tour is not designed by France's President, Emmanuel Macron, who knows and admires Soros.) One assistant leads to the suite and wraps up I am in the dining room where Soros is sitting at the table with his wife Tamiko (Soros has married three times and has five children – though similar to Donald Trumph's end).
This is after 20.30, but it seems like you are welcome to talk. He speaks slowly, still with a thick Hungarian accent, half-heartedly moves his heap as if to call his voice. We are talking about the first stage of tomato and avocado salad, a thunderstorm passing through Paris, crashing through the windows. There is a particularly violent storm as we talk about Russia. "It's Putin," funny jokes. In 2015, Putin delivered his Soros philanthropist organization, the Open Society Foundations (OSF) from Russia, and claimed that it was a security threat, and Russian state media blocked the continuous flow of anti-Soros content.
Paris was the first stop of Soros for a one-month spring trip to Europe. He usually visits Budapest, but not this time. Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, a former Soros protégé was re-elected in April after launching a campaign in which he was actually an opponent of Soros. Orban accused Soros of being an American citizen to sell Hungary to Muslim immigrants in order to undermine his Christian legacy. He was attacked by campaign attacks against Soros, and his government dazzled strikes the country with Soros giant billboards. During the post-election period, OSF announced that it would close its office in Budapest because of its concern. The fate of the Soros-based Central European University is also doubtful.
Soros says that he is currently unable to visit Hungary: "it would be toxic". He tells me that Orban's campaign was "a big disappointment," but he quickly added, "I think he has to do something else to see who I am." In the last fall autumn, he indicated that he had the same malice when he announced that he would transfer most of his remaining assets, $ 18 billion, the OSF.
This will potentially be the second largest humanitarian organization in the United States after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is a widespread entity, working around 1800 in 35 countries, a global advisory body, eight regional directorates and 17 board of directors. Its annual budget is about US $ 1 billion funded by education, public health, independent media, immigration and criminal justice reform and projects in other areas. Organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, US Civil Liberties Union and planned parenthood, are among the supporters.
Soros originally planned to close OSF in 2010. She did not want her to survive because she feared to lose her dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit. But he changed his mind when he realized that, as he said, "I had more money than I can spend realistically or in a useful way in my life." He also saw the fragility of the free values and civil society in so many places, and the work of OSF became increasingly important. "I found a mission, a cabin I felt I could continue," she says after the dinner is over.
According to Soros, 1944 was the life-forming year. The Nazis invaded Hungary and immediately started deporting the Jews. To save his family, his father, Tivadar Soros, was a fake identity of George, who was then 13 years old, and his older brother, Paul. One day, George was ordered to be quoted in the name of the Jewish Council. Tivadar, recognizing that it was essentially a deportation notice, instructed his son to tell the addressees not to take them into consideration. Shortly afterwards, Tivadar ordered Paul to lease a rented room and send George to a Hungarian agricultural officer who handed him over as a Christian cross.
The official was responsible for possessing a confiscated Jewish property; he took George with him. These episodes were the basis for the assertion that George was a Nazi collaborator. In fact, however, there is no credible evidence of co-operation with the Nazis or sympathizer for the Nazis. George, his brother and parents survived the war. Soros says that experience came out with a strong dacos streak, contempt of the tribe and the willingness of the oppressed.
In 1946, when communists rose in Hungary, Soros fled to England. He obtained a London-based economics degree, where he was Professor Karl Popper. In 1945 Popper published a political dissertation, The open society and its enemies, which led to totalitarianism, both fascist and marxist forms, and the protection of the belligerent liberal democracy. Soros left Popper's classroom, not just the idea that later animated her charity, but also the desire to live the mind.
First, he had to make money. When he moved to New York in 1956 to work on Wall Street, he wanted to tell me that he had to ship $ 100,000 within five years, which would allow you to quit financial affairs and scientific research. But instead it runs down during dinner, "I went over."
In 1969 Soros formed the quantum foundation. It was one of the new types of investment instrument that was described as hedge funds, which served as institutional investors and wealthy individuals and used leverage – borrowed money – to get huge bets on shares, bonds, currencies and commodities. Quantum has been wildly successful since the beginning, producing a 40 percent annual yield. Soros would later attribute the ability to play markets as a "reflexivity theory" – basically the idea that people's biases and perceptions may move in directions that do not correspond to the underlying reality. Soros claimed that his strength as an investor identifies and acts "away from the balance" from moments.
By the end of the 70s, Soros became a very rich man. Now he had the means to make himself an agent of history. She was honest about her pursuit, though she was also smug. As he wrote in 1991, Signature of democracy: "I was a self-centered egotist, but I considered my self-interest to be too narrow for my rather inflamed self." If truth is known, I had a fairly strong mesianic fantasy from my childhood that I felt might otherwise be in trouble, but when I went to the world, they wanted to let my fantasies so much that I could afford it.
He decided that his goal was to open up closed companies. In 1979, he established a philanthropic organization, then the Open Social Fund, and started sponsoring college scholarships for black South African students.
But he soon turned to Eastern Europe, where he began financing the dissident groups. In 1981, he paid money to the Polish solidarity union strike and Czechoslovakia's 77th Division. In one particularly impressive step, he sent hundreds of Xerox copiers to Hungary to facilitate the distribution of underground publications.
By the end of the 1980s, dozens of Eastern European students received scholarships for Western study, with the aim of promoting the generation of liberal democratic leaders. One such student was Viktor Orbán, who studied civil society in Oxford. From the Manhattan shop floor, Soros became a variety of foreign anticommunist revolutionaries.
Meanwhile, The quantum grew to billions of dollars in colossus. Soros made the most famous trade in 1992 when he bet against British pounds. The currency was vulnerable because it kept an unsustainably high price compared to the German mark; in the British recession, Soros said the British government would ultimately decide that the pound would be depreciated and would not keep the high interest rates required to protect speculative investors. Soros's ordinary headquarters is Stanley Druckenmiller's developer, "goes with the neck". Druckenmiller did, and on Wednesday, September 16 – on Black Wednesday, as it became known – the Bank of England ceased the money. It immediately stuck to the signs, reduced the European exchange rate mechanism and fell back for greater European integration.
The sterling crisis turned hedge funds into the enchanting rogue of finances and demonstrated the ability of criminals to fight political decision-makers in the world of capital of free capital. Trade sold $ 1.5 billion to Quantum, and Soros, who was named the British tabloid as a "man breaking the English bank," got a household name.
By then, the Soviet empire collapsed and Soros devoted huge sums of money to ease its transition from Communist rule. For example, he donated US $ 100 million to support Russian scholars and prevented them from selling their services to Western hostile countries; $ 250 million spent on reviewing Russian textbooks and teaching teachers in critical thinking. While the era was Western triumph when it was widely assumed that Russia and other newly-liberated countries inevitably embody liberal democracy – the American Politologist Francis Fukuyama's 1989 essay "The End of History" – Soros does not share this trust . This part of the world had a limited tradition of civil society and liberal democracy, and believes that these areas should be preserved if the region wants to avoid the suppression of self-restraint. "I usually have a bias to see the darkest potential," he says. "This is something I practiced on the financial markets and I moved it to politics."
In the 1990s, Soros considered his daily work and charity, and it was not always easy to delimit its dual role. Quantum and OSF came from the same offices at the same time. In December 1992, after receiving three months from the British pound, Soros announced a donation of $ 50 million to build a water treatment plant in Sarajevo during the war, and it was difficult to see the money directly from the British Treasury. Soros once described his twin existence graphically and wrote that "he felt like a giant digestive system, he took money at one end and pulled the other out."
If that was the case, indigestion was inevitable and appeared in 1997 when Quantum was at the center of the speculative attack on Thai baht. The episode is nearly the same as that of the English font. (Quantum was roughly $ US750 million.) There was, however, a critical difference: while Britain was a large industrialized country that ultimately had little trouble with its money, Thailand was an emerging economy the consequences were devastating. Economic production has fallen, banks and businesses have collapsed and throwing huge people out of work.
I usually have a bias to look at the darkest potential. This is something I practiced very well on the financial markets.
The baht crisis has fallen to other Asian economies. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Soros and other speculators called "unscrupulous profitable" whose immoral work was not social value. Soros publicly rejected the criticism, but when investors aimed at the Indonesian rupee in 1997, Quantum was not among them. He did not join other hedge funds when Russian ruble was targeted next year. After investing hundreds of millions of dollars in stabilizing Russia, Soros would have accepted his work against the Russian currency. Finally, he lost $ 400 million in losses.
"This was when the intersection between the philanthropist and the investor became more difficult," says Rob Johnson, a longtime Soros employee who was the Quantum portfolio manager in the 1990's. But by the time Johnson said that the only reason why Soros was still hedging funds was to earn more money for the cause.
In 1994, in a speech by the students of the East-European university students and educators in Moldavia, Soros described surprisingly personal aspects of why he became a political philanthropist. His goal was that Hungary was "a country from which I did not want to emigrate". For this purpose, in the years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Hungary lost money and resources. In the early 1990s, OSF granted $ 5 million to a program that offered a complimentary breakfast to Hungarian students. He spent millions in modernizing the Hungarian healthcare system.
Overall, Soros has funded a $ 200 million project in Hungary since 1989 – and this figure does not include the initial $ 250 million donated to the Central European University which opened in 1991 in Prague, moved to Budapest two years later and since then more than 14,000 students from Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Viktor Orbán introduced the "Stop Soros" bill in Hungary, which is a criminal offense to help illegal immigrants.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Soros also cultivated many young activists who believed he could continue his dream of restoring Hungary's place, which would never be forced out again. These included Viktor Orbán, a bright, charismatic student who was eager for democracy or seemed like. In addition to providing Orbán with the Oxford scholarship, Soros donated money to Fides (the Young Democrats Association), a student organization that Orbán helped to find and became a political party.
But in the 1990s Orbán drifted to the right. Elected Prime Minister in 1998, he directed the mainstream conservative, emphasizing patriotism and traditional values. Outside from the west. Under his leadership, Hungary joined NATO and established its entry into the European Union. In the 2002 elections, however, the shock-loss to Orban is radically radical. When he recovered the Prime Minister's Office in 2009, he firmly consolidated power. Courts have been involved with Fidesz loyalists and have bought independent media from Orbán. However, she turned away from the West and approached Vladimir Putin. Orbán was re-elected in 2014.
The European asylum crisis hit the next year. Tens of thousands of refugees in the Balkans came to the border of Hungary. Orbán's government set up a 175-kilometer fence to preserve them and later refused to comply with the European Union's quota regime, which would require the involvement of asylum seekers.
The groups receiving financial assistance from the OSF provided assistance to border refugees and it became a pretext for Sorbos Orbán's war. The Hungarian Parliament has adopted laws that require non-governmental organizations to register with the government and allocate foreign sources of income above a certain threshold; adopted a bill that would have waived the right to award diplomas in Hungary at the Central European University. Orbán's government introduced the so-called "Stop Soros" bill, which has committed crimes in support of illegal immigrants. (Parliament approved the bill in June.)
Given that Orban ran and won a xenophobic platform, it seems fair to hear that Soros's work in Hungary – and most of Eastern Europe – was condemned from the beginning. With the rise of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, there is a new debate about the import of the events of 1989 and whether the Russians, the Poles and the Hungarians really want to live the Western Liberal Values Complete Menu.
Francis Fukuyama is one of those who are doubtful today. "There is a lot of evidence that in the early days, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, they turned to liberal democracy, it was really a well-trained, very Western elite elite," he says. But the less educated people who lived outside large urban areas "did not really participate in liberalism, this idea was that there was indeed a multinational multinational society where all these traditional social values had to pass on gay marriage and immigrants, and all of them things that definitely did not get in.
Soros became a major political donor in the United States under George W. Bush's presidency. With the annoyance of the Bush administration's efforts to use war on terror to intimidate and reject fears, it has given big sums to democratic candidates and progressive causes. He helped create American Progress, a liberal think tank and MoveOn.org, and supported over $ 20 million in spite of John Kerry's unsuccessful bid to deny Bushot for a second term in 2004.
She is an early supporter of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential election campaign. In Paris, Soros says that Obama is "really the biggest disappointment". With the help of a helper, he immediately empowers himself, saying he was not disappointed with Obama's presidency, but he felt he had passed it on the professional level. Although he refused to play an official role in the administration, he hoped Obama would seek advice, especially in financial and economic matters. Instead he froze.
After Obama was elected, "he closed the door for me," Soros says. "He made a phone call that thanked my support, which lasted for five minutes and I took it and spent three more minutes, so I pulled it for eight minutes." He suggested that he fell victim to an Obama personality trait. "There was someone he knew in time when he was a competitor to the editorial office Harvard Law Review to take the supporters themselves and raise their opponents, "Soros says.
During the 2016 election cycle, Soros reported more than US $ 25 million to Hillary Clinton and other democrat candidates and causes. While anticipating the appearance of a Trump-like figure ("The American public is extremely vulnerable to manipulating the truth, which is increasingly dominating the country's political discourse," he wrote The guard In 2007), I was so surprised as everyone else that the Trump-like figure turned out to be Donald Trump. Soros says that Trump was accidentally known and even socialized with him. (About 30 years ago, one of her friends at one of Trump's leaders, Soros, one of her friends, and they both had dinner a few times.) "I did not know he had political ambitions," Soros says. Trump tried to get him to be the lead man in one of his commercial buildings, he says. "I told her I could not afford it," Soros laughed.
He says "he is very afraid" that Trump "blows up the world and does not die for his narcissism", but he was pleased to see that the ego of the president was more likely to lead North Korea. "I think the threat of nuclear war has dropped significantly, and that's a big relief." The Republican party's extreme has made him become a major democrat donor, he says; he wants the Republican party to turn into a more moderate party. He says he is not particularly curious in himself: "I do not want to be more democratic."
If Soros's relationship with the Democratic Party is mainly seen as a transaction, for some Democrats, the feeling seems mutually mutual. While we welcome your money and we need it, there seems to be some ambivalence in the Soros in the democratic circles. This is partly due to the blasphemy. As Elaine Kamarck, head of the Brookings Institute and a long-running democratic strategist, says "The best donors are silent donors, not good talk."
The bigger question is that the Democratic Party remains committed to the campaign finance reform, and it undermines the impact of the United States' decision on American policy. The 2010 Supreme Court's decision has given billionaires to Soros as unlimited amounts of money for political campaigns. According to Kamarck, in the post-bourgeois United world, Democrats "can not unilaterally disarm" and reject donations from plutocrats, like Soros, but oppose billions of donors in a way that Republicans do not.
I'm against the far left. You do not have to stop with the right extremists.
Although Soros is on the left side on a number of issues – he supports a solemn healthcare system and has long been a supporter of the reform of criminal justice – some have long been doubtful on the left. In the 1990s, the distant Left depicted as an agent of American imperialism and promoted the so- Neoliberal agenda (mass privatization) in Eastern Europe. For some critics, the background of Soros Wall Street has always been against it.
Philanthropy is also unpleasant – it is not its purpose, of course, but what it seems to represent. Soros is at the helm of a vanguard of "philanthropism," which billionaires such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Soros are fundamentally large social investments. (Forbes Magazine was the 20th richest American last year.) For protesters this is the privatization of social policy and deprives the public sector of money by leveraging charitable donations that can be used to promote social welfare.
When he asks Soros ideologically to describe himself, laughs. "My ideology is not ideological," he says. "I'm not in the clubs club." When I suggest that the "middle left" may characterize your views, you condemn it; she says that it is unclear where she is, because she is going to the left to the left, a development that does not like her. "I'm against the far left," he says. – You have to let him try to keep up with the extremists on the right.
Britain's 2016 vote to leave the EU it was a personal blow to Soros, an English language, but also a solid supporter of European integration. He then donated more than $ 50,000 to Best for Britain, which was planning a second referendum to cancel Brexit. In response, Norman Lamont, who was the chancellor of the finance minister during the 1992 money laundering crisis, lost a lost end to Soros's most famous trade, told a reporter: "György Soros is a brilliant financier, but he has to insist on finances and refrain from British politics . "
Még ha elismeri, hogy a politikai döntéshozók végső soron hibáztatják, hogy a jövedelmi egyenlőtlenségek hatékonysága a globális globalizációval szembeni óriási visszaszorítást serkentette, a pénzügyi szektor jelentős szerepet játszott a romlásában, és a Siri-alap titánok, mint a Soros. egyenlőtlenség. És miközben Soros nagyon őszinte és meggyőzően írt a kaszinó kapitalizmus buktatóiról – leginkább 1997-ben atlanti esszét, később egy úgynevezett könyvnek A globális kapitalizmus válsága, amelyben elismeri a pénzügyi piacok destabilizáló hatását – ez nem teszi őt kevésbé szimbólumává. Soros azt mondja, ha nem ment a brit font vagy a thai baht után, valaki más lenne. Ez vitathatatlanul igaz (és valójában a Quantum nem volt az egyetlen fedezeti alap, amely ezeket a valutákat célozta meg), de ez nem egy különösen kielégítő válasz, és természetesen nem a globális pénzügyi válság után, amelyben a befektetési bankok és a fedezeti alapok ilyen pusztító szerepet játszottak. Az iparág, amely milliárdos lett, jelentősen hozzájárult a körülményekhez, amelyek most veszélyeztetik azt, amit Soros a filantróp próbál elérni.
Másrészt, ha Soros gazdagsága valaki máshoz ment volna, akkor az a személy ugyanazt a pénzt használta volna fel? Lehet, hogy egy nemes ügybe ment, de szinte biztosan nem valami ambiciózus és kegyetlen – vagy veszélyes -, mint a liberális értékek és a demokrácia előmozdítása. Kivéve a Soros-szal együtt járó komplikációkat, inkább azt a világot szeretné élni, amit megpróbált létrehozni, vagy a világban, hogy Orbán és ebből a szempontból Trump úgy tűnik, hogy felébresz minket?
Július elején meglátogatom Soros otthonában a New York államban található Hamptons-ban. Visszatért Európából, és a nyár hátralevő részét El Miradorban tölti, mivel mediterrán stílusú villaja ismert. Egy háztartásbeli alkalmazott megmutatja nekem az étkezőben lévő asztalt, és nekem egy gyömbéres teát, "a ház különlegességét". Néhány perccel később Soros belép. Fehér vászon ing, sötét nadrág és szandál van öltözve. Reggel nem volt a teniszpályán; ő inkább foglalt telefonhívásokat.
A Soros Párizsban látott öt hete óta a Trump Administration új kereskedelmi szankciókat csapott Kínában, és vámokat szabott ki a Kanadából és az EU-ból származó árukra. I ask why the markets and the broader economy are holding up so well in the face of a possible global trade war, the breakdown of the trans-Atlantic alliance and the political turmoil in Washington. Soros says these developments will eventually drag down the market, but he can't say when. "I've lost my capacity to anticipate the markets," he says, adding with a smile, "I'm an amateur now." It's like hearing Roger Federer say he's lost his touch around the net.
For me, money represents freedom and not power.
As my conversation with Soros draws to a close, I think I pick up a little vulnerability. He is talking about his wealth and the opportunities it has given him. "For me, money represents freedom and not power," he says. For a long time, money has given him the freedom to do and say what he pleases, and also the freedom not to care what other people say and think about him. But he concedes that he has started to care.
"I have become a bit more concerned about my image, because it is disturbing to have those lies out there," he says. He also admits that being the anointed villain for so many people around the world is unpleasant.
"I'm not happy to have that many enemies. I wish I had more friends."
This is an edited version of a story first published in The New York Times. © 2018 The New York Times.
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