George Soros – “The reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated”

GEORGE (not dead) Soros’ obituary seems to have been posted by Reuters:

By Todd Eastham WASHINGTON, XXX |          Thu  Apr 18, 2013 5:41pm EDT WASHINGTON, XXX (Reuters) – George  Soros, who died XXX at age XXX, was a predatory and hugely successful financier  and investor, who argued paradoxically for years against the same sort of  free-wheeling capitalism that made him billions. He was known as “the man who broke the Bank of England” for selling short the  British pound in 1992 and helping force the United Kingdom to withdraw from the  European Exchange Rate Mechanism, which devalued the pound and earned Soros more  than $1 billion. And his Soros Fund Management was widely blamed for helping trigger the Asian  financial crisis of 1997, by selling short the Thai baht and Malaysian  ringgit. “Subsequently, Prime Minister Mahatir of Malaysia accused me of causing the  crisis, a wholly unfounded accusation,” Soros wrote in The Crisis of Global  Capitalism: Open Society Endangered,” in 1998. “We were not sellers of the currency during or several months before the  crisis; on the contrary … we were purchasing ringgits to realize profits on  our earlier speculation.” Still, economist Paul Krugman, was one of many observers who accused Soros of  helping trigger the crisis. In 1999, Krugman wrote that “nobody who has read a business magazine in the  last few years can be unaware that these days there really are investors who not  only move money in anticipation of a currency crisis, but actually do their best  to trigger that crisis for fund and profit.” Still, Soros has written extensively on the folly of what he has called free  market “fundamentalism,” the belief of many conservative economists that markets  will correct themselves with no need for government intervention. In Soros’ view, markets and investors are subject to “mood” swings, or a  prevailing positive or negative bias which can be exploited by savvy investors  but which inevitably lead to damaging market bubbles and boom/bust  cycles. An enigma, wrapped in intellect, contradiction and money. A Jew born in Hungary as the Nazis were gaining power in Germany, Soros  survived World War Two and then emigrated to Great Britain, where he earned a  degree from the London School of Economics in 1952, and landed his first job in  the financial industry largely through pure stubborn chutzpah. OPEN SOCIETY INSTITUTE While at the London School, Soros studied under the economist and philosopher  Karl Popper and a main vehicle for his philanthropy, the Open Society Institute,  is named for Popper’s two-volume work, “The Open Society and Its  Enemies.” In that work, Popper develops the philosophy of reflexivity, a theory first  articulated by William Thomas in the 1920s that posits that individual biases  enter into market transactions, coloring the perception of economic  fundamentals. Soros has attributed his own financial success in part to his understanding of the reflexive effect. Key to understanding that effect is recognizing when markets are in a  condition of near-equilibrium, or in disequilibrium. Soros has observed that  when markets are rising or falling rapidly, they are typically marked by rising  disequilibrium, and the dispassionate investor can capitalize on that  recognition. While Soros has benefited enormously from this understanding (Forbes put his  wealth in 2013 at $19 billion, making him the world’s 30th richest person, not  counting the roughly $8 billion he has given away through various charitable  entities he controls), he has argued nevertheless for strong central government  regulation to correct for and counterbalance the excesses of greed, fear and the  free market. Popper’s idea of fallibilism, which posits that anything one believes may in  fact be wrong, is another key principle that has guided Soros in his career, and  his philanthropy. Soros’ philanthropy since the 1970s, when he began funding the studies of  black students at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, has been marked  as much by his personal journey as by the needs of the communities he has set  out to serve. His efforts through the Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundations have  been skewed toward the effort to promote democratic values in the post-Soviet  economies of Central and Eastern Europe, where he witnessed the rise of  communism in Hungary after World War Two. “The bulk of his enormous winnings (as an investor and speculator) is now  devoted to encouraging transitional and emerging nations to become ‘open  societies,'” former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker wrote in the foreword  to Soros’ “The Alchemy of Finance” (2003). “Open,” Volcker wrote, “not only in the sense of freedom of commerce but –  more important – tolerant of new ideas and different modes of thinking and  behavior.” PHILANTHROPY, POLITICS Soros also pledged $50 million in 2006 to the Millennium Promise, led by  economist Jeffrey Sachs, to provide educational, agricultural and medical aid to  help poor villages in Africa. And the Open Society Institute has expanded its  giving to more than 60 countries around the world, giving away roughly $600 million a year. Soros was an early supporter of the peaceful transformation of the Solidarity  movement in Poland and Open Society Institute programs were considered by many  Western observers to be a key factor in the success of the “Rose Revolution” in  Georgia. While his philanthropy has earned him friends around the world, his political  giving has earned him both friends and enemies. Former President George W. Bush,  who Soros blamed for turning the United States into “the main obstacle to a  stable and just world order,” was perhaps the biggest single target of his  political wrath. “By declaring a ‘war on terror’ after Sept. 11, we set the wrong agenda for  the world,” Soros told Newsweek magazine in a 2006 interview. “When you wage  war, you inevitably create innocent victims.” In a bid to stop Bush’s re-election, Soros donated $23.5 million to more than  500 liberal and progressive groups during the 2003-2004 U.S. election  cycle. Other causes that have attracted Soros’ generosity include drug policy  reform. He donated $1.4 million to promote California’s Proposition 5 in 2008, a  failed initiative that would have expanded drug rehabilitation programs as  alternatives to prison for non-violent drug offenders, and $400,000 to the successful 2008 Massachusetts initiative to decriminalize possession of less  than an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana. He has also been a vocal supporter of the right to die in dignity, revealing  in 1994 that he had offered to help his own mother, a member of the Hemlock  Society, commit suicide. While Soros’ life has been marked by remarkable success in his far-flung  endeavors, it has not been without defeat. His investment in France’s Societe  Generale following Jacques Chirac’s aggressive program of privatization led to  charges of insider trading, which he disputed, and eventual conviction and the  payment of a small penalty. And he was a minority partner in a group that failed to acquire the  Washington Nationals Major League baseball team. But these failings stand out in the life of this remarkably successful  Hungarian-American financier, philanthropist and thinker, in contrast to his  stubborn refusal to fail in virtually every other venture.