SOROS CAREER/OPEN SOCIETY ESTABLISHMENT
Soros began his career in finance by the mid-1950s. He worked as a leather-goods salesman, then got his first gig at the Singer and Friedlander merchant bank. Failing in London but finding success in New York after arriving in 1963. Throughout the 50s and 60s, he perfected his understanding of being a trader and broker. In 1969 he started Soros Fund Management. The investment firm is the foundation for his booming financial success here on out. A few years later in 1973, George established The Quantum Fund (a group of Cayman Island hedge funds). Done in partnership with a fellow investor, Jim Rogers. Soros Fund Management sat in a key advisement position. Quantum Fund operated in the Netherlands Antilles to avoid U.S. SEC regulations (that came back to haunt him).
Soros Fund Management has averaged a 20% annual rate of return as of today. But to give a sense of scale: somebody who invested $1000 in 1969 would have $2 million by the mid-1990s. The Quantum Fund was worth $21.5 billion in August 1998 according to a New York Times piece back then. The subject itself was even though Quantum Fund lost $2 billion in Russia, assets were up 19.13% that year. George Soros made enormous gambles daily, based on economic and political current events.
Ol’ George thought the global economy was falling apart. That the world needed regulation protections to stop people like Soros. Nelson Mandela once called George and asked how to protect South Africa from people like him. That’s the two feuding sides within George Soros. He’s got the cold-hard capitalist side, believing being an economist is an immoral activity. His opposite side is the philanthropist who knows money is a responsibility and tries to do right by it.
That would become evident at the start of the 1980s. Soros was hitting unprecedented new heights in his level of wealth. The Quantum Fund jumped to $400 million by 1981. It led to George having some sort of midlife crisis at that time. His Quantum Fund made him hundreds of millions of dollars. But the downside was he had no awareness of the definition of success. George tried looking for clubs and associations to join up with, but nothing struck his fancy.
The Open Society started to form in 1981. George’s childhood friends got him in touch with Hungary’s political dissidents. People like István Rév and Miklós Haraszti. Besides them was Annette Laborey, a friend of George from Paris who was in charge of an underground group. Soros asked how much Annette needed to expand her operations. She said 10 thousand dollars. Soros told Annette to “think larger,” and as a result, George had started funding her network for quite a few years. Laborey eventually became the Open Society Foundations Vice-President, serving through until 2012.
George says the first Open Society Foundation office opened in 1984. He started up an office in Budapest to fight back against Communism. What was going to be his strategy? Make calculated small cracks in the political system, hoping for a max impact. In practical terms, this meant things like providing photocopiers to the Eastern Bloc. Give people the tools to circulate texts banned by the Communists. Political influencers like Haraszti realized they owed Soros for his help. According to the official biography, Soros opened up offices in Poland and Russia during this time frame. After the Berlin Wall came down, George spent the next few years expanding things further. What was his original political subversion group became something much more. He was going to make a foundation built on being a catalyst for Open Society. Soros was going to throw money at minorities to help raise them up in the world.
Soros established the Central European University in 1991 with campuses in Budapest and Warsaw. The intent was to give him an academic foothold in the region. He called it a “beacon for the value of critical thinking.” Meant as a “global center of learning to serve as a model for rebuilding public institutions of higher education.”
But to be honest it was a power move. George ain’t no saint either.
George had tried to get his conviction for insider trading overturned in June 2006. But the Cour de Cassation (France’s highest court) rejected it. The event of interest happened back in 1988 when Soros got into trouble. He bought and sold Société Générale shares after receiving privileged information about a corporate take over. The French appeals court had ruled in March 2005 that Soros must pay the fine of €2.2 million for buying 95,000 shares. The investigation itself took a long time. After fourteen years, the court initially found George guilty in December 2002. He swore to appeal. Soros confessed to someone telling him in late 1988 a Paris financier was planning to take over Société Générale. But George was adamant that such information wasn’t enough to be considered “insider.” That it didn’t influence his transactions, and it was part of a broader strategy of investment Soros had been trying out at the time.
The earlier part of the 1990s made clear what was to come as the British pound had been at odds with the Deutsche Mark. This left the country with high inflation and low-interest rates. This was all caused by Britain’s entry into the ERM (Exchange Rate Mechanism). They aimed to keep their currency above 2.7 marks to the pound, as they prepared to swap the pound for the Euro. Earlier in 1992, the Maastricht Treaty passed and gave birth to the European Union. Which meant the adoption of their singular currency with the Euro. Also, economic pressure on Germany’s reunification caused more reliance on the German mark. Black Wednesday happened after Britain upped interest rates to help the pound’s appeal. Yet, currency speculators like George Soros shorted the currency en masse thereafter. His business partner Stanley Druckenmiller says it was his own initial idea. But Soros took that ball and ran all the way he could with it. That was the day they “broke the pound.” What’s meant by that is the incident forced the British government to pull from the European ERM. It ended up being a good thing in the long run as it brought interest rates and inflation back in order.
The Open Society Foundation was first officially founded in April 1993. Soros got to work in the Europe area to clean up the Communist era. It wasn’t exactly an accountable entity back then. George went to different countries looking for people who shared his ambitions. When he found them, he gave those people money to set things up in that particular location for Open Society. Soros was flexible in how he let the people he recruited pursue the end goal. So these recruits he tasked built their charities up and got their own friends involved that way. These support networks evolved into academic think tanks that targeted influencing policy.
By 1994 Soros had already invested nearly $1 billion in Eastern Europe. One $250 million grant to help the humanities (train teachers and make textbooks) in Russia and a SECOND $250 million grant to establish Central European University. $200 million went to set up his network of foundations, $100 million to help encourage Russian scientists to stay in the country, and finally $50 million for aid to the new country of Bosnia, whose Muslims had been urged by Washington and Germany to proclaim independence in 1993, triggering the bloodiest part of the Yugoslav War.
In 1995 Soros did an interview with Charlie Rose that gave us a look inside where his mind was at the time. George had mixed opinions on the state of Eastern Europe. Felt they missed a valuable opportunity for open society to take root there. Nationalist ideologies were being adopted to indulge emerging business interests, said Soros. Believing NATO’s mission to be unclear, he recommended the organization redefine themselves. They missed a chance to shape Bosnia’s future, and George said it caused the current turmoil there. According to him, government organizations need to be in place for Open Society’s sake. Some kind of international security system to bring about a sense of order. Soros saw the United Nations in that regard as a failure. George thought modern instability was because the USA no longer policed the world. He’s got that globalist mentality. Involving himself in all four corners. To George, the current period was a crisis of values that lacked a sense of common direction.
This is where we begin to see George’s priorities and view on the world change.
Soros seemed worried about regression in Germany’s government and thought the E.U. needed to admit Poland and Hungary. Soros also admits trying to influence President H.W. Bush’s decisions during Communism’s fall. At the time of this interview, George was hasty on backing Bill Clinton in the next election cycle. He had disagreements with how he handled foreign policy issues. Decades later, Bill himself would admit to meeting Soros during this time.
Yet despite this new lease on life, Soros was still the finances man too. While there’s a full money management team, George’s ideas and beliefs are a driving force. He doesn’t believe success is between right and wrong, it’s about doing things right on a large scale. George exploits holes in the system, specializing in situations where normal rules shift. Things like war and turmoil. The Internet seemed as revolutionary as the printing press. Global markets served as Soros’s laboratory to experiment in.
There was an Asian Financial Crisis in August 1997. In Thailand, the baht entangled with the US dollar for the preceding decade. This was because business authorities had encouraged the country’s banks/corporations to borrow USD unhedged, and fuel domestic lending. By the mid 90s Thailand trade/capital accounts deteriorated, making paying back dollar debt difficult and the baht peg unsustainable. The Thai government didn’t understand how much of a decline occurred when they left the peg in July 1997. By October the baht depreciated 60%. What happened in Thailand caused a widespread chain reaction of Asian currency speculation. Places like: Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. All feeling a depreciation whiplash. The contamination spread to South Korea and Russia too.
Sources involved with the Quantum Fund back then said Soros had a hand in this. He reportedly bet $1 billion against the baht, kickstarting the crisis as a result.
“For instance, by selling the Thai baht short in January 1997, the Quantum Fund managed by my investment company sent a market signal that the baht may be overvalued. Had the authorities responded to the depletion of their reserves, the adjustment would have occurred sooner and been less painful. But the authorities allowed their reserves to run down; the break, when it came, was catastrophic.”
Soros bankrolled Mikheil Saakashvili during the November 2003 Rose Revolution. A dispute arising over parliamentary elections integrity led to non-violent protests in Georgia. The situation peaked on the 22nd and incumbent Soviet President Shevardnadze stepped down. Mikheil was pretty much indebted to Soros after that. George is also believed to be behind the November 2004 Orange Revolution in Kiev, Ukraine. The Presidential election between Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych heated up. Reports of vote rigging would snowball into corruption accusations and voter intimidation. Protests began after Yushchenko had a projected 11% lead from exit poll results, while official numbers gave Yanukovych a 3% lead. Thousands of protesters marched the streets until January 2005. Then, officials declared Yushchenko the winner after weeks of investigation and scrutiny.
These color revolutions have a common trait of extended longevity beyond the normal. Somehow, they’re sustained by a continuous outside source of fuel and funding. What matters here is Soros used his wealth to start a foundation that gave him political access in numerous places around the world.
To demonstrate the extent of that, next we’ll look at George’s involvement in and around the United States.