Soros, George

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Soros, George

George Soros (sôr´ōs), 1930–, American stock trader and philanthropist, b. Budapest, Hungary, as George Schwartz. He studied under Sir Karl Popper at the London School of Economics (grad. 1952). He emigrated from Hungary to Great Britain (1947) and then to the United States (1956). Soros mostly worked as a financial analyst, and in 1969 he founded the first of his offshore hedge funds. His Quantum funds grew in value tremendously, partly through speculation in foreign currency. He earned (1992) $1 billion on the fall of the British pound and notoriety as "the man who broke the Bank of England." In the late 1990s, financial analysts and government officials charged that this speculation had helped destabilize Asian and Latin American national economies. His reputation for financial acumen was tarnished somewhat, however, when the value of the funds fell 20% in early 2000.

As president of the Soros Management Fund, he has used his wealth to create a network of wealthy foundations, many of which are intended to aid former Communist countries in creating the kind of anti-Marxist "open society" advocated by Popper. Others fund health initiatives and aid immigrants in the United States. He also established (1991) the Central European Univ., based in Budapest. In the United States, he has funded political campaigns, most notably by organizations opposed to President George W. Bush. Soros has written several books, including Opening the Soviet System (1990; rev. ed. 1991), The Alchemy of Finance (1994), The Crisis of Global Capitalism (1998), Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism (2000), and The Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power (2003).

See his autobiography Soros on Soros (with B. Wien and K. Koenen, 1995); biographies by R. Slater (1995) and M. T. Kaufman (2002).

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