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George Soros (born August 12, 1930) is a Hungarian-born American businessman. He is famous as a currency speculator and a philanthropist. Currently, he is the chairman of Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Institute and is also director of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is known around the world for the role he played in Georgia's Rose Revolution. In the United States he is also known for donating large sums of money.

Early Life

George Soros is the son of the Esperanto writer Tivadar Soros. Soros was born in Hungary and lived there until 1946, when he escaped the Soviet occupation by participating in an Esperanto youth congress in the West. (Soros was taught to speak the language from birth.) As a young man, Soros traded currencies in the black market in Hungary during the second world war. Soros was fourteen when the Germans took military control over their ally Hungary in the last part of the war, and he avoided the fate of many Jews as the grandson of a Hungarian official overseeing the confiscation of Jewish properties, who was assisted by his son-in-law, Tivadar Soros.

Soros emigrated to England in 1947 and graduated from the London School of Economics in 1952. In 1956 he moved to the United States. He has stated that his intent was to earn enough money on Wall Street to support himself as an author and philosopher. His net worth reached an estimated $11 Billion.


He's the founder of Soros Fund Management. In 1970 he co-founded the Quantum Fund with Jim Rogers. It returned more than 4000% during the next ten years, and created the bulk of the Soros fortune.

On Black Wednesday (September 16, 1992), Soros became instantly famous when, believing the Pound Sterling was overvalued, sold short more than $10bn worth of pounds. The Bank of England was forced to withdraw the currency out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, and Soros earned an estimated US$ 1.1 billion in the process. He was dubbed "the man who broke the Bank of England."

The Times October 26, 1992, Monday: "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, under similar circumstances during the Asian financial crisis, then Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad accused Soros of bringing down the Malaysian currency, the ringgit.

Critics point out that Soros plays the currency markets through Quantum Fund, his privately-owned investment fund registered in Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles, a Caribbean tax haven which has repeatedly been cited by the International Task Force on Money Laundering of the OECD as one of the world's most important centers for laundering the illegal proceeds of the Latin American drug trade. By operating from Curaçao, Soros not only avoids paying taxes but also hides the nature of his investors and what he does with their money.


Soros has been active as a philanthropist since 1979, when he began providing funds to help black students attend the University of Cape Town in apartheid South Africa. Soros' philanthropic funding in Eastern Europe mostly occurs through the Open Society Institute and national Soros Foundations, which sometimes go under other names, e.g. the Stefan Batory Foundation in Poland. He also pledged an endowment of $250 million to the Central European University (CEU).

He received honorary doctoral degrees from the New School for Social Research (New York), the University of Oxford in 1980, the Budapest University of Economics, and Yale University in 1991. Soros was a student of Karl Popper and says that his investment strategies are based on a Popperian skepticism about the reliability of any one human belief.

Soros has been criticized for his large political donations. He pushed for the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 which was intended to ban "soft money" contributions to federal election campaigns (but obviously the law was ineffective). Soros has responded that his donations to unaffiliated organizations do not raise the same corruption issues as donations directly to the candidates or political parties.


Soros is a controversial figure. Although he has become extremely wealthy as an international investor and currency speculator (his fortune in 2004 was estimated at US$ 7 billion), he freely acknowledges that the current system of financial speculation undermines healthy economic development in many underdeveloped countries.

One could say that Soros is primarily a philosopher, and his successes in business and philanthropy are merely an expression of his views on the world. Certainly Soros sees himself that way, having aspired to be a philosopher since childhood.

He has popularized the concepts of dynamic disequilibrium, static disequilibrium, and near-equilibrium conditions. His writings also focus heavily on the concept of reflexivity.

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This biography is an edited version of Soros on the Wikipedia site, by John Hunter Feb 2005.