People

George Soros

George Soros

Formal First Name
George
Dates
8/12/1930 - present

George Soros is a legendary hedge fund manager best known as "The Man Who Broke the Bank of England." He shorted the British pound in 1992 and reportedly made a profit of $1 billion, breaking the Bank of England in the process. In 1973, Soros launched Soros Fund Management and became one of the most successful investors in history. Until now, his views on investing and economic issues are widely followed. He has also been a prominent champion of democratic ideals and causes for more than 30 years.

EARLY LIFE

  • Soros experienced ethnic and political intolerance firsthand. 
  • He was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1930 and has lived through the Nazi occupation of 1944 to 1945.
  • His own Jewish family survived by acquiring false identity papers, concealing their backgrounds, and helping others do the same. 
  • He later recalled that “not only did we survive, but we managed to help others.”
  • The Communists consolidated power in Hungary after the war and Soros left Budapest in 1947 for London, working part-time as a railway porter and as a night-club waiter to support his studies at the London School of Economics. 
  • He emigrated to the United States in 1956, entering the world of finance and investments, where he made his fortune. 


NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Soros is a celebrated hedge fund tycoon who managed client money in New York from 1969 to 2011.
  • He is most famous for a single-day gain of $1 billion on September 16, 1992. Using leverage, he was able to take a $10 billion short position on the pound, earning him $1 billion. The trade is considered one of the greatest of all time, and Soros was declared to be "the man who broke the Bank of England."
  • He has been vocal about the uncertain future of the European Union in the wake of Britain's 2016 vote to leave the union and the continuing refugee crisis that has brought millions of Middle Eastern refugees to Europe. He warned of an existential crisis facing Europe. He has presented a plan to rescue Europe from a pending crisis by tackling three major issues: the refugee crisis, territorial break-ups like Brexit, and the austerity crisis that has plagued countries like Italy and Spain.
  • He has advocated that the European Union issue perpetual bonds, a method of financing that Britain used to finance the Napoleonic Wars.
  • He has a lot of nicknames, adding "the man who broke the Bank of Thailand" to the list during the Asian financial crisis. 


INVESTMENT STYLE

  • Soros believes that instinct plays a large role in his investment decisions.
  • He is knowledgeable about economic trends on a regional and global level. He utilizes this knowledge to exploit market inefficiencies with large, highly leveraged bets. He has both the capital and the risk tolerance to ride out these bets longer than most hedge fund managers. He has cowed national governments on currency issues with his tenacity and deep pockets.
  • Despite his vast knowledge of global markets and prime sources of information, he bases his decision to close out a bet more on a gut call than a response to a market signal.
  • One popular theory is that Soros has internalized so much of the market and its workings that he instinctively knows when the time has come to close out for a profit long before he can rationalize the decision.


CURRENT APPOINTMENTS

  • Founder of Soros Fund Management
  • Founder of the Open Society Foundations
  • Founder and Primary Funder of the Central European University


PHILANTHROPY

  • Soros began his philanthropy in 1979, giving scholarships to Black South Africans under apartheid. 
  • He helped promote the open exchange of ideas in Communist Hungary in the 1980s by funding academic visits to the West and supporting fledgling independent cultural groups and other initiatives.
  • After the fall of the Berlin Wall, he created Central European University as a space to foster critical thinking.
  • After the Cold War, he gradually expanded his philanthropy to Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the United States, supporting a wide range of new efforts to create more accountable, transparent, and democratic societies.
  • He was one of the early prominent voices to criticize the war on drugs as “arguably more harmful than the drug problem itself.” He helped kick-start the medical marijuana movement in America.
  • He became a vocal backer of same-sex marriage efforts in the early 2000s.
  • He used his fortune to create the Open Society Foundations, which is a network of foundations, partners, and projects in more than 120 countries.
  • In 2017, the Open Society Foundations announced that Soros had transferred $18 billion of his fortune towards funding the future work of the Foundations, bringing his total giving to the Foundations since 1984 to over $32 billion.
  • His giving has reached beyond his own Foundations, supporting independent organizations such as Global Witness, the International Crisis Group, the European Council on Foreign Relations, and the Institute for New Economic Thinking.
  • He has been known to emphasize the importance of tackling losing causes.
  • He is believed to be worth more than $8 billion as of 2021.