Bloomberg News

Soros Says Europe’s Debt Woes ‘More Serious’ Than 2008 Crisis

January 10, 2012

Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire investor George Soros said Europe’s sovereign-debt woes are “more serious” than the financial crisis of 2008 and that the world faces the prospect of a “vicious circle” of deflation.

“We have a more dangerous situation now than in 2008,” Soros, 81, said in response to a question at an event in the southern Indian city of Bangalore today. “The crisis in Europe is more serious than the crash of 2008.”

Leaders in the euro region have struggled to solve the debt crisis that is now in its third year and which has clouded the outlook for the global economy. The European Central Bank has provided unprecedented cash injections to try to avert a credit crunch, while Greece, Ireland and Portugal have already been forced into bailouts.

The euro strengthened against the dollar for the first time in four days as the leaders of Germany and France meet to craft a plan for rescuing the 17-nation common currency.

The euro advanced against all but one of its 16 biggest peers, after earlier reaching an 11-year low against the yen. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy gather in Berlin today to flesh out a new rulebook for fiscal discipline negotiated at a Dec. 9 summit that seeks to create a “fiscal compact” for the euro area.

The shared currency advanced 0.5 percent to $1.2781 at 10:35 a.m. London time, after earlier falling to $1.2666, its weakest level since September 2010. The euro was 0.3 percent stronger at 98.18 yen after dropping to 97.28, the least since December 2000. The dollar was 0.2 percent weaker at 76.82 yen. Japan’s markets are closed today for a public holiday.

Myanmar Visit

On Myanmar, Soros said he visited that country recently and found “solace in the improvement or rise in search for freedom.”

He said there was “mutual trust” between Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein.

“The president and a couple of minister are just a small group within the regime,” Soros said. “They genuinely want an opening. It is important to make that happen, it’s very risky, it may not happen.”

President Thein Sein has taken steps to ease political repression and end the country’s international isolation. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in December that she was “cautiously hopeful” after completing the highest-level U.S. visit to Myanmar in more than five decades.

The U.S. maintains sanctions on Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, that were first imposed in 1988 after soldiers killed about 3,000 student protesters, according to an estimate by Human Rights Watch.

Soros is best known for making $1 billion in 1992 betting the Bank of England would be forced to devalue the pound. His company, Soros Fund Management LLC, now focuses solely on managing his and his family’s assets.

Soros has said he’s given away more than $8 billion in the last 30 years to promote democracy, foster free speech, improve education and fight poverty around the world.

--With assistance from Sunil Jagtiani in Singapore Editors: Cherian Thomas, Arijit Ghosh

To contact the reporter on this story: Jay Shankar in Bangalore at jshankar1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at sphang@bloomberg.net Hari Govind at hgovind@bloomberg.net


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