George Soros, the guru of Wall Street confided a vocation: save from the wreck the rising democracies.

By James Jackson

Thirty - second floor of a gray building of the 7-th Avenue, in New York. An almost religious silence bathes Soros Fund Management's offices(desks). At the end of the corridor, a compartmentalized glass room. The eye riveted on screens of computers, the dozen foreign exchange dealers watch there the evolution of the world markets. Day after day, they risk fortunes on the fluctuations in foreign exchange rates, actions and obligations.

It is here that George Soros gains(wins) his(her) money(silver).

A lower floor, a polyglot hubbub welcomes the guest. In corridors, it(he) crosses people in arms loaded with documentation or plans of construction of houses with moderate rent.

It is there that Georges Soros gives his money(silver).

Between 1993 and 1995, this financier of Hungarian origin won and looked more than any other private individual in the world. In 65 years, it(he) reigns over an 10 billion dollar empire, among which the angular stone, the famous collection(fund) Quantum, engages(opens) astronomical sums in operations of coverage of high risk on the financial markets of the planet. It(he) also steers the foundations which carry(wear) the name, main links of the vastest world network and probably the most effective of private philanthropic actions: more than 330 million dollars were distributed a year, largely in central Europe.

For number of country, Georges Soros and some other patrons represent maybe the only last hope. While the programs of aid to the developing countries granted by the industrialized nations are reduced as a shagreen, the investments deprived in the third world multiply in a vertiginous rhythm. Of 52 billion dollars in 1991, they climbed on 97 billions in 1994, indeed over 57 billions offered by the public sector.

In 25 years, the foundation Soros paid(poured) so more than a billion dollars resulting from the personal fortune of their creator. These gifts(donations) served for financing the most different programs: an university of 450 students in Prague and Budapest; a radio station spreading(diffusing) information towards Burma suffocated(suppressed) by the dictacture; a factory of purge to Sarajevo; 200,000 COUNCIL HOUSES in the townships of South Africa; 200 tons of scientific reviews in the public biliothèques of Russia.

George Soros put literally back(handed literally ) to stream certain countries of Central Europe. < It(he) saved ours, does not hesitate to affiirmer Vladimir Milcin, director of the Institute for a company(society) opened by Macedonia. It(he) granted us two 25 million dollar loans on the most grave of the crisis, when nobody of the other one was inclined to help us >.

This generosity does not attract(entice) him(her) that friends. The press salad, supported by its government, attacked(affected) him(it) violently to have defended(forbidden) the linguistic rights of the Albanian minority. In Russia, personalities blamed him(her) for wanting to acquire scientific patents in absurdly low prices.

Indifferent to these criticisms, Georges Soros pursues his work. Contrary to the other big patrons as John Rockefeller or Henry Ford-whose this money the fortune in especially been devolved posthumously to trusts created to reduce the successoral tax-, he distributes while he is in the force of the age and in the highlight of the financial success. It(he) distinguishes itself also by the unlimitedness of its(his) ambition: save the world. Nothing less.

It(he) poured million dollar hundreds on Ukraine, Russia and Rumania, with the hope that the western governments follow close by him(her). Because it is persuaded that the West allows to pass an exeptionnelle occasion to decide on the former(ancient) communist world to open in the concert of nations.

Hardly of its(his) brilliant reputation of the finance, it(he) does not hesitate to meet in private meeting presidents and western prime ministers to convince to contribute them to the increase(recovery) of the Eastern Europe.

< The effrondement of the communism is a revolution, he points out to them, and the revolutions create openings >.

A contradictory person.

Due to his(her) studies, George Soros intended himself more for the philosophy than for the world of the finance. Today even, he considers more as an intellectual than as a businessman.

Although it(he) dedicated its(his) life to build a fortune, the luxury does not interest him(it). In New York, it(he) circulates in an old woman Mercedes. For the movements abroad, no private jets: he travels on commercial flights(thefts), quite as his assistants. The most expensive pastime? The tennis.

Susan, his second wife, tells that, when they met in 1979, it(he) lived austere in one apartment of Manhattan. < The collection of objects of art includes especially works coming from Central Europe, she says, that it(he) buys to encourage the artists >.

But, in spite of appearances, George Soros asserts hating the charity: < All our civilization rests(bases) on the promotion of the self-interest, not on that of the others. >

These contradictions of the person result doubtless from adventures of the youth. After a happy childhood in an easy(well-to-do) Jewish family of Budapest, he should hide during one year to escape the Nazi pursuits towards the end of the Second World war. This nightmare, then the coming to office and the exile in England in 1947 explain partially the aversion which inspire him(her) the totalitarian companies(societies), folded up on themselves. < I was always haunted by the difference among the closed company(society) from which I escaped, and the big world opened in which I chose to live >.

This obsession leads(drives) him(it) to London School of Economics and to conferences of Karl Popper, one of the most influential antiMarxist philosophers of the post-war years. To earn the keep, the young person George works as bearer in a station, then is made representative, before following a training in a bank.

From 1955, it(he) decides to give up the philosophy and to dedicate all its(his) energy to make(do) fortune. In New York where it(he) settles down, he notices very fast that one can gain(win) much more money(silver) by making circulate the capital between this temple of the finance and London, Paris or Tokyo where by confining to the American market.

In 1960, it(he) leaves its(his) employment(use) of wage-earning foreign exchange dealer to Wall Street and, with a four million dollar capital gathered(reunited) in big Quantum toils, creates the collection(fund), the leader and the main shareholder of which he is. The prosperous collection(fund) quickly, in the point to relate, in 1993 more than a billion dollars in profits, honorary and the other comebacks. Even in 1994, difficult year for all the capital of arbitrage, Georges Soros gathered in personally about 70 million dollars.

His(her) partner Stanley Druckenmiller and apparently makes(does) to him(her) nothing more that the other one speculators; the only difference is that they make(do) him(it) better. < Besides their internationalist vision, they have a fabulous intuition, explains Barton Biggs, president of Morgan Stanley Asset Management. And they are working executioners. >

For his(her) part, George Soros attributes(awards) his(her) success to his(her) capacity to anticipate the moment when a tension reaches(affects) its breaking point, where a fit of the classes(courses) approaches its highlight, where an oppressed company(society) gets ready to rebel. < It is then that one can foresee the unpredictable, and I make(do) him(it) a little better than the others > he says modestly.

Birth of a vocation.

One day of 1979, by walking(working) in London, George Soros feels(smells) suddenly his(her) heart banging in the breast and imagines victim of a heart attack. < It is then that I wondered to what all my efforts could indeed be of use >. In the time, it(he) manages a 100 million dollar capital, and its(his) personal fortune amounts to 30 millions. I considered that I had enough money(silver) for all my needs >, he explains. And he decides to become a philanthropist.

It(he) creates the Collection(fund) for an opened company(society), the first intervention of which consists in setting up a program of university stock exchanges(scholarships) for the black students of South Africa.

Then it(he) turns its(his) attention to central Europe. < At the beginning, it(he) made(did) anonymous gifts(donations) > remembers himself Elizabeth Lorant, one of both co-workers to which it(he) confides(entrusts) the management of a 200,000$ budget intended to finance the distribution of textbooks(manual workers) of market economy in the Hungarian universities. This program results in the creation of the Foundation Soros of Hungary, which will be followed by 24 others.

Bit by bit, the Hungarian foundation widens its radius of action, notably by giving photocopiers to university libraries. Afterward, these machines will facilitate the broadcasting(distribution) of the secret publications aiming at by-passing seizure of the communist Party by the media.

But, as the ambitions grow, George Soros should go(surrender) obviously: it(he) has not enough time to steer at the same moment its(his) philanthropic activities and its(his) financial empire. In 1989, Stanley Druckenmiller takes care of the management of the collection(fund) Quantum, which weighs then seven billion dollars. Dike the brain drain.

In the statements of the staff of the foundations, George Soros is a boss rather cumbersome. < He likes putting the nose in everything > notices a former(ancient) employee. But this commitment is a big advantage: he allows to free capital more fast and more effectively.

Aryeh Neier, president of the foundations Soros, explains that these dedicate less than 4 for 100 of their budgets to the administration, against 15 for 100 for the most part of the other big bodies of philathropie.

< Most of these last ones have an impressive administrative infrastructure which distributes the money(silver) in the form of subsidies, makes more expensive(adds) Stephen Greene, chief editor of the monthly magazine The chronicle. He can pass by a lot of time between the reception of the projects, their analysis and the sending of capital. George Soros short-circuits this process; if it(he) decides to dedicate 100 million dollars to an initiative, the money(silver) goes almost out immediately. >

At the end of 1991, when Soviet Union effrondre, throwing(casting) on the pavement of the dozens thousand excellent researchers, George Soros creates the international Foundation for the science, that he endows with a 100 million dollar budget. She(it) grants 500$ stock exchanges(scholarships) < the equivalent over there of more than a year of salary > to more than 30,000 academics, and grants(tunes) about 6000 subsidies having to allowed to scientists to assist in congress abroad.

In Bosnia, the foundation Soros affects more than 50 million dollars to various projects going from the construction of a network of water conveyance to Sarajevo in the setting up of a data base for the meeting of families.

George Soros also sets up the University of central Europe ( UEC), which counts two campus, the one in Budapest and the other one in Prague. These establishments offer programs leading to diplomes in law constitutional, in political sciences, in history and in economy. THE UEC has already received 55 million dollars, and his(her) founder undertook to pay(pour) him(her) 10 millions of it a year during 20 years.

< Our purpose, explains the general secretary of the university, Anne Lonsdale, is to form a new generation capable of playing a role of foreground in various domains: politics(policy), environment, education. We want to encourage the young people to stay here instead of leaving in search of an employment(use) on the West.

Save the world: George Soros recognizes that it is a colossal task, otherwise megalomaniac's dream. Because, in spite of the immense resources of which it(he) has, its(his) apocalyptic convictions do not hold attention of big leaders of the planet.

Certainly, it(he) proved that he could shake financial markets, by taking a participation of 14 for 100 in a gold mine, in 1993 , it(he) made climb the world class(course) of the gold; by criticizing the politics(policy) of increase of the interest rates of Federal Bank, it(he) made lower(dim) the mark during two weeks. But when it(he) gives its(his) point of view onto Bosnia, nobody listens. But, hardly its(his) convictions, it(he) does not disarm(move) and continues to pour on the world its(his) some 300 million annual dollars. Half of this sum goes to the foundations which it(he) created in 25 countries; the rest serves especially for satisfying quickly urgent needs, such as the reconstruction of schools in Chechnya ravaged by the war. < I have enough money(silver), he says, to continue to spend him(it) in this rhythm much later the turn of the century >.

In the meantime, maybe, the message will have been agreed by the West.

From Selection of the Reader's Digest, February, 1996


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