George Soros, the billionaire currency speculator and philanthropist has long been in the news, especially since the fateful day in 1992 when he helped crash England’s economy. In fact, since that day, he has been commonly referred to as “the man who broke the bank of England.”
Soros is shrewd, he has a keen eye for investments, and he knows how to play the markets. Therefore, when he makes a prediction, it might be safe to say it’s worth a listen. After all, his predictions (among other things) have made him the multi-billionaire he is today.
So you might want to pay attention to a recent story from The Daily Beast that claims George Soros is nervous about the future of the global economy and that he warns of dark things to come.
“At times like these, survival is the most important thing,” Soros said.
As he sees it, the world faces one of the most dangerous periods of modern history—a period of “evil,” writes the Beasts’ John Arlidge. “Europe is confronting a descent into chaos and conflict. In America [Soros] predicts riots in the streets that will lead to a brutal clampdown that will dramatically curtail civil liberties [emphases added]. The global economic system could even collapse altogether.”
And to add a little color, Aldridge notes Soros says it all while “peering through his owlish glasses and brushing wisps of gray hair off his forehead.”
“I am not here to cheer you up. The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career,” Soros told Newsweek. “We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world, which threatens to put us in a decade of more stagnation, or worse. The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.”
As mentioned in the above, and as The Daily Beast points out, Soros’ warning is probably based on his natural market instincts as well as personal experience.
“The collapse of the Soviet system was a pretty extraordinary event, and we are currently experiencing something similar in the developed world, without fully realizing what’s happening,” Soros said.
“Unrestrained competition can drive people into actions that they would otherwise regret,” Soros said. “The tragedy of our current situation is the unintended consequence of imperfect understanding. A lot of the evil in the world is actually not intentional. A lot of people in the financial system did a lot of damage without intending to.”
Wait a minute. Soros believes that the economic meltdown was the result of not just poor investments but honest-to-God “evil”?
“That’s correct,” Soros affirmed.
Soros continued in this vein, each prediction getting darker and grimmer than the last.
He believes that the EU must be held together because “if you have a disorderly collapse of the euro, you have the danger of a revival of the political conflicts that have torn Europe apart over the centuries—an extreme form of nationalism, which manifests itself in xenophobia, the exclusion of foreigners and ethnic groups.”
“In Hitler’s time, that was focused on the Jews,” Soros said. “Today, you have that with the Gypsies, the Roma, which is a small minority, and also, of course, Muslim immigrants.”
It is “now more likely than not” that Greece will formally default in 2012, Soros said. For this, he blames the EUs’ leadership and believes that eurozone leaders only know how to “do enough to calm the situation, not to solve the problem.”
Soros then went on to talk about how the Occupy Wall Street movement has added to the ever-changing dynamics in the world economy. Debt, Wall Street and capitalism have been put under intense scrutiny and people are becoming increasingly angry.
As this anger intensifies, will the inevitable result be a spontaneous eruption of violence and riots?
“Yes, yes, yes,” Soros says, almost “gleefully.”
However, according to Soros, worse than the riots and violence will be the government reaction.
“It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States,” Soros said.
Perhaps because he sees such a dark future for the West, Soros has staked his “hopes” for the global economy in Middle East and the “democracies” that are springing up over there.
“While the developed world is in a deep crisis, the future for the developing world is very positive,” Soros said. “The aspiration of people for an open society is very inspiring. You have people in Africa lining up for many hours when they are given an opportunity to vote. Dictators have been overthrown. It is very encouraging for freedom and growth.”
Soros insists the key to avoiding cataclysm in 2012 is not to let the crises of 2011 go to waste, writes John Arlidge.
“In the crisis period, the impossible becomes possible,” Soros said. “The European Union could regain its luster. I’m hopeful that the United States, as a political entity, will pass a very severe test and actually strengthen the institution.”