George Soros, Billionaire, Hungarian Jew, Nazi Collaborator, and the hidden hand that destabilizes nations describes his motivations
60 Minutes Narrator: Of all the financial titans and philanthropists of the 20th century, none are more mysterious than George Soros. Like Carnegie, JP Morgan and the Rockefellers, he amassed millions through ruthless business decisions, only to turn around and give away most of his fortune to advance his own personal philosophy
He can move his own world financial markets simply by voicing an opinion. Or destabilize a government by buying and selling its currency. He also pledged more aide last year to help the people of Russia than the US People did.
But now, George Soros is worried. He thinks the global economy is coming apart at the seams and that the world needs to be protected from people like George Soros.
George Soros: We may now think that everything is fine, but the fact is that the system is broke and it needs fixing.
60 Minutes Interviewer: What you’re doing is asking for some form of regulation to protect the world from you
Soros: Well, I’m a player, and I think all players should be regulated. There have to be rules to the game.
Narrator: Right now his Quantum Group Hedge Fund moves $14 Billion of rich investors money around the world every day looking for profits and answering to no one. Soros makes huge bets on whole countries and economies. Last year when he saw cracks in the Asia boom, he ban selling the currency in Thailand. Traders in Hong Kong followed suit figuring a financial crisis that plunged much of Asia into a depression.
Interviewer: In the last two years, you’ve been blamed for financial collapse of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, and Russia.
Soros: All of the above (laughs)
Interviewer: All of the above.
Interviewer: Are you that powerful?
Soros: no, I think there’s a great misunderstanding.
Interviewer: The Prime Minister of Malaysia…
Interviewer: He said that the region spent 40-years trying to build up its economy and along comes a moron like Soros – with a lot of money – and it’s all over. He called you a criminal.
Soros: It’s easier for him to blame an outside force than to admit that they were mismanaging their economy and their currency. The French Finance minister talked about hanging speculators from lampposts.
Narrator: Soros says the Asian currencies would have collapsed even if he hadn’t been in the market – they were over valued. People tend to follow his lead because he’s been so successful.
Soros: I think that I’ve been blamed for everything. I am basically there to make money. I cannot and do not look at the social consequences of what I do.
Jim Grant: This man is a carnivore of the first order.
Narrator: Jim Grant is the editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer and one of Wall Street’s most respected analysts. He never tires of watching Soros; in part, because of the huge bets he’s willing to place on his hunches.
Grant: He has always amazed the people he’s worked with – at his audacity and his willingness to back up his commitments with enormous sums of money that causes the blood to drain from ordinary mortal’s faces.
Narrator: Like risking $2B in Russia. When the Russian market began falling apart in August, Soros was the country’s single largest investor. He called the US Treasury and asked Uncle Sam for $7B to prop up the Rubble. When US officials failed to intervene, Soros wrote a letter to the Financial Times of London saying the Russian currency should be devalued by as much as 25%. A few words from Soros was enough to cause panic selling that fueled the crash.
Interviewer: What’s it like having a statement you make have such serious, egregious consequences? I mean, you can – it looks to me that in a number of situations, you can take a position against a currency or make a statement and the whole country falls apart.
Soros: Well, it’s a tremendous sense of responsibility actually. It’s also a humbling experience because I am actually trying to do the right thing, and sometimes what I do has an unintended negative consequence as it did in Russia.
Narrator: For both Russian middle class and for Soros, who lost his $2B. Whatever his motivation, no one can accuse him of greed. He’s backed away from his day-to-day operation of his businesses and is giving away his Billions now, with the same determination that he made them – in places like Haiti – a country that has less money in the bank than he does.
Last month he brought the First Lady (Hillary Clinton) with him for a look at some of projects his foundation is funding.
Clinton: This is Mr. Soros. he’s going to be helping with the hospital.
Narrator: This year, Soros plans to give away almost $500M around the world. In Bosnia, when the water supply to Sarajevo was cut off at the height of the siege, it was Soros who wrote a check to Jerry-rig a pipeline from an abandon highway tunnel
Richard Holbrooke: $5M up front can be more valuable than $50M a year or two later.
Ambassador Richard Holbrooke brokered the Peace in Bosnia.
Holbrooke: At one point, after the Dayton Peace Agreement in Bosnia in 1995 for a considerable period of time, George (Soros) had given more money to implement the peace agreements than the US Government had – he could just move that fast.
Narrator: In Russia, he had pledged $100M to help scientists who might otherwise have sold their expertise to bidders like Iran or Iraq. In eastern Europe, he’s educated a new generation. And in Ukraine, he spent millions retraining the old Soviet military.
Interviewer: At the center of George Soros, there’s an inherent contradiction.
Soros: Which is?
Interviewer: Which is, on one hand, you’re the capitalist who does not care about the social consequences of his actions. And on the other hand, you are a philanthropist who cares only about social consequences. How do you resolve the two?
Soros: Recognizing that, as a competitor, I have to compete to win. As a human being, I am concerned about the society in which I live.
Interviewer: Which George Soros am I talking to now – the amoral George Soros or the moral George Soros?
Soros: it’s one person. It’s one person who at one time engages in amoral activities and the rest of the time tries to be moral.
Narrator: To understand the complexities and contradictions in his personality, you have to go back to the very beginning – to Budapest where George Soros was born 68-years ago to parents who were wealthy, well educated, and Jewish.
When the Nazis occupied Budapest in 1944, George Soros’ father was a successful lawyer. he lived on an island and he liked to commute to work in a row boat. Knowing there were problems ahead for the Jews, he decided split his family up. He bought them forged papers and he bribed a government official to take 14-year old George Soros in and swear he was his Christian Godson.
But survival carried a heavy price tag. While hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews were being shipped off to the death camps, George Soros accompanied his phony God Father on his appointed rounds – confiscating property from the Jews.
These are pictures from 1944 of what happened to George Soros’ friends and neighbors.
Interviewer: Your a Hungarian Jew who escaped the Holocaust…
Soros: Mmm Hmm
Interviewer: … by posing as a Christian.
Interviewer: And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps.
Soros: Right. I was 14-years old, and I would say that that is when my character was made
Interviewer: In what way?
Soros: That once you think ahead – that once you understand and anticipate events, and one is threatened – it was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean, it was a very personal experience of evil.
Interviewer: My understanding is that you went out with this protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted God Son. You went out and in-fact helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.
Soros: That’s right. Yes.
Interviewer: That – that sounds, uh… like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?
Soros: Uh… not at all. No, (smiling) not at all. Maybe as a child, you don’t see the connection, but it created no problem at all.
Interviewer: No feeling of guilt…
Interviewer: … for example, I’m Jewish, and here I am watching these people go. I could just as easily have been there. I should be there… None of that?
Soros: Well, of course I could be on the other side. I could be the one for whom the thing is being taken away… uh… but there was no sense that I shouldn’t be there because, that was… uh… well, actually, in a funny way – it’s just like in markets that, if I weren’t there, (of course, I wasn’t doing it), but somebody else would be taking it away anyhow. In other words, whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator. The property was being taken away, so I had no role in taking away that property, so I had no sense of guilt.
Interviewer: Are you religious?
Interviewer: Do you believe in God?
Narrator: Soros told us God was created by man – not the other way around, which may be why he thinks he can smooth out the world’s imperfections.
When we went with him to Ukraine, he was treated like a visiting head of state and was received by the President. Then he was received by the Prime Minister, and then finally by the Central Bank. They even allowed him to look at the books and asked him for advice. Lots of people want George Soros’ advice – most recently, the South African President, Nelson Mandella.
Soros: Actually, Nelson Mandella asked me, “how can South Africa protect itself from speculators like you?” And I told him, I wrote him a memo trying to give him the best advice I could how to reduce the exposure of South Africa to speculator’s attack.
Interviewer: That’s the old, “Stop Me Before I Kill Again” approach, right? You’re tell [them] this is what you could do to stop me.
Soros: Whether I or somebody else does whatever is happening in the markets, it really doesn’t make any difference to the outcome. I don’t feel guilty because I’m engaged in an amoral activity which is not meant to have anything to do with guilt.
Narrator: Part of the reason he is so rich is because the Soros Hedge Funds operate off shore in a Netherlands Antilles to avoid scrutinies of the Securities and Exchange Commission. So even while Soros tells Congress and the Treasury that Hedge Funds must be regulated to stop the global crisis, he’s avoiding the rules.
Interviewer: Why is it that American’s can’t invest in the Quantum Fund? It’s an off-shore fund, why is that?
Soros: Because the fund is not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. So, we are not…
Interviewer: Licensed to do business in the United States.
Soros: That’s right.
Interviewer: Why is that?
Soros: Because we are not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. (laughs) Because we find it more convenient to operate without it.
Interviewer: So in some ways, it’s to escape regulation?
Soros: Yeah, that’s right (proudly)
Interviewer: But you’ve been sitting here talking about the need for regulation.
Soros: Yes, and whatever regulations are imposed, we will… (laughs) we already conform to everything.
Narrator: If the beneficiaries of Soros’ Billions do not understand the intricacies of SEC rules and off shore hedge funds, they do understand what he’s done for them. The President of Haiti has been reading his new book, The Crisis of Global Capitalism, and so is President [Bill] Clinton. Will all the attention spoil George Soros?
Grant: George Soros, in a way, is Donald Trump without the humility.
Interviewer: One of your money managers told us that George really does think he’s God.
Soros: (laughs) If you think that you’re God, and you go into financial markets, you’re bound to come out broke. So the fact that I’m not broke shows that I don’t believe that I’m God.