How much is George Soros worth

George Soros: A speculator and philanthropist

Soros is the most successful financial juggler of all time. With his speculations he made billions and even brought the Bank of England to its knees. But he also wants to save the world.

He could have felt lonely, but he was probably fine. Alone against everyone - that is a feeling that a speculator must like. Only those who compete against the crowd earn a lot of money. George Soros, a major Hungarian-American investor, was at the meeting of the International Bankers Association in Vienna and contradicted the big bosses of the industry across the board. The financial markets need more regulation, said Soros amid bank directors who unanimously oppose it. The major system banks in particular must be cracked down on, Soros demanded. "Banks with quasi-monopolies must be smashed."

George Soros is a thin man with a low voice and a sincere dachshund look. He wouldn't be noticed in a crowd. But the almost eighty-year-old is the most successful financial juggler of all time. His hedge fund "Quantum" achieved an average annual increase in value of around 30 percent between 1973 and 2000. That is a record that will be hard to break. His personal fortune is estimated at around nine billion dollars. It could be significantly higher if Soros did not use a large part of his income for social projects. The tough speculator is also a good person - and that is not the only contradiction in the universe of George Soros.

Better to take risks than do nothing at all. Soros was born in Budapest in 1930, the son of a lawyer. The Jewish family only survived the German invasion of Hungary because the father had used false passports to hide their origin. “It is safer to risk something than to do nothing at all.” Soros likes to quote this sentence from his father Tivadar when asked about the maxims of his actions. How the father once saved the family with cunning and courage impressed the son enormously and shaped him for life.

At the age of 16, Soros fled the communists to England, studied at the London School of Economics and attended the philosophy lectures of Karl Popper, who also made a lasting impression on him. In 1956 Soros moved to the USA and began working as a trader and analyst for various investment houses. At the end of the 1960s he went into business for himself with his own hedge funds. The legendary “Quantum Fund” in the Caribbean tax haven Curaçao was founded in 1969.

One of the investor's preferred vehicles has been short selling, which has been so heavily criticized today. Soros was selling stocks and options in advance that he did not yet own. His success proved him right: within 25 years, the volume of his funds rose from a modest twelve million dollars to 23 billion.

George Soros would have remained a largely unknown investor, despite his successes, had he not landed a spectacular coup in autumn 1992: Because he believed the British pound to be overvalued, he relied fully on a devaluation - and thus started a wave of speculation that ended in the end actually led to the devaluation. Soros earned over a billion dollars on September 16, Black Wednesday, and went down in history as "the man who cracked the Bank of England".

Early on, Soros became a critic of the very system that made him so much money. In his opinion, neoliberal market fundamentalism is just as flawed as Marxism. “The propaganda that government action is inherently bad has been very successful in people's minds. But it didn't do our society any good, ”says Soros. The market is not always able to correct itself. Therefore, the state has to intervene from time to time.

What is certain is that Soros would never have gotten so rich if the regulations he is calling for today had been in effect thirty years ago. The billionaire is repeatedly asked about the significant difference between his actions and his words. Soros now parries such accusations very elegantly: "If people like me can overthrow a currency regime, the system is wrong," he once argued. Two years ago he explained to the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”: “I understand the markets better, that's why I earned money and that's why I know the mistakes of the markets.” Soros sees himself as a kind of key witness for the indictment against a system of which he himself has benefited.

Largest landowner in Argentina. At the end of the 1990s, Soros' legendary nose seemed to suddenly refuse to work. The investor lost money on a large scale: his attempt to bet against the euro went wrong and cost billions. He did not foresee the end of the IT boom and was left with worthless new economy stocks. With failed deals in Russian rubles alone, he is said to have lost a total of two billion dollars. Soros' heyday seemed to be over. He handed the management over to his sons Robert and Jonathan, rebuilt the funds and made investments that were less risky and less profitable. For a while he was about the largest landowner in Argentina.

But anyone who thought that Soros had become milder with age was mistaken. The economic crisis has woken up the senior again. He returned to his former passion, gambling, and earned money like in the old days. In 2008, his “Quantum Endowment Fund” achieved a return of 32 percent, and Soros himself was the highest-paid hedge fund manager with an annual income of $ 1.1 billion.

Half a billion to help. In addition to the billionaire gambler, there is a completely different George Soros. Based on Karl Popper, he founded the "Open Society Fund", which brings the richly earned money back to the people. Soros once began helping young blacks in the apartheid state of South Africa. He helped Czech dissidents of Charter 77, the Polish trade unionists of Solidarność and the Russian opponent Andrei Sakharov. In Hungary he had photocopiers purchased, while Russian provincial universities received one hundred million dollars to buy computers and Internet connections. In 2004 he spent a lot of money in the USA - in vain - to prevent the re-election of George W. Bush.

Soros spends around half a billion dollars a year on his program. "Many people dream of making the world a better place, but I am in the fortunate position of doing it," he wrote in the foreword of his 2006 book "The Age of Bad Decisions". This has nothing to do with a remorse, he said in an interview with the German news magazine "Der Spiegel". He is not responsible for the crises in the financial sector. “All of these big events that I was involved in would have happened if I hadn't been involved. The British pound would have had to leave the European monetary system in 1992 if I had never been born. "

Maybe that's a little too modest. Otherwise, George Soros does not suffer from complexes. One day he just doesn't want to be remembered as a dull, greedy financial shark, but as a thinker. When he received an honorary doctorate from Oxford University in 1980, Soros was asked what title he would be presented with at the ceremony. His answer: "George Soros, financial, philanthropic and philosophical speculator."

George Soros was born on August 12, 1930, the son of a lawyer in Budapest. At the age of 16 he emigrated to London and later to the USA. He has been an American citizen since 1961.

As an investor and speculator, Soros made history. His “Quantum Funds” achieved an annual increase in value of around 35 percent. Soros is considered one of the richest men in the world. His personal wealth is estimated at nine billion dollars.

The "Open Society Institute" invests around $ 500 million a year in social and political projects and in environmental protection.

("Die Presse", print edition, June 13, 2010)