Bloomberg News

Soros Says Europe, U.S. Turmoil Reminds Him of Soviet Collapse

October 06, 2011

Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire investor George Soros said the disruption to global financial markets since 2008 has implications for Europe and the U.S. that remind him of the final years of the Soviet Union.

“Something similar is happening in the West,” Soros, 81, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Eye to Eye with Francine Lacqua,” airing today. “You had a financial crisis where the market did actually collapse, but it was kept alive by the authorities. People don’t realize that the system has actually collapsed.”

The MSCI World Index has plunged 15 percent since July on concerns that the default of a European nation could lead to a contagion that spreads to banks throughout the region and in the U.S. Soros, whose $25 billion Quantum hedge fund gained about 20 percent a year on average since 1969, said he’s not certain how to fix Europe’s debt problems or how to navigate financial markets.

“That is not so easy,” he said in the interview in London. “There is a lot of confusion, and I am also confused.”

Soros, who was born in Hungary, promoted opposition to Russia’s communist regime before it collapsed in 1991. In 1993, he founded the Open Society Institute to help formerly communist countries make the transition to democracy.

The biggest mistake governments made in responding to 2008 credit freeze was failing to approve rules that would regulate banks and other financial firms across the globe, Soros said. While markets have become integrated, individual nations continue to set their own rules, which has allowed “deregulation to spread like a virus,” he said.

Returning Investors’ Money

“Regulation is very difficult and we haven’t solved it at all,” he said. “We are very early in the process and we are not making much progress.”

Soros’s hedge fund decided in July to return money to outside investors, meaning it will only manage assets for him and his family. The move will end an investing career that spanned more than four decades and gained Soros international acclaim in 1992 after he made $1 billion betting that the Bank of England would be forced to devalue the pound.

Soros, in the interview, said he now spends all his time on philanthropy, describing it as a “full-time job.”

--Editors: Steve Bailey, Keith Campbell

To contact the reporter on this story: Jesse Westbrook in ?? at jwestbrook1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net


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