Wednesday, May 28, 2008

George Soros: 'We face the most serious recession of our lifetime'

There are some people I love to have around, besides bloggers.

People like George Soros who's a billionaire and doesn't have to worry about what the administration or anyone else thinks about what he says. He can be honest and tell us what we need to know.
George Soros, 'the man who broke the Bank of England', tells Edmund Conway of his fears for the economy

'This is a period of wealth destruction. The people who make money will be few and far between. There will be a lot more money lost than made." When George Soros - the phenomenally successful hedge fund manager - says this, you know something is wrong, very wrong. And indeed it is. The 77-year-old billionaire sinks back into the sofa in his Chelsea townhouse and exhales.

He has managed to make money almost consistently for over half a century - from his early days as one of the world's first major hedge fund traders to his involvement in Black Wednesday as the man who "broke the Bank of England", and in the latter years generating multi-billion-dollar annual profits throughout the 1990s. The conditions today are almost uniquely dismal, however.

"I think this is probably more serious than anything in our lifetime," he says. In short, his feeling is that the United States and Britain are facing a recession of a scale greater than the early-1990s, greater even than the 1970s.

"I think the dislocations will be greater because you also have the implications of the house price decline, which you didn't have in the 1970s - so you had stagflation and transfer of purchasing power to the oil producing countries, but here you also have the housing crisis in addition to that."
# The financial crisis in full

Such apocalypticisms would be less worrying were it not that Soros was among the few prominent experts who warned of the dire consequences facing the American economy years ago, when the housing bubble was still inflating.

But even cottoning on to the big economic story early on hasn't meant guaranteed success. He returned from retirement last summer, and no sooner had he started trading than he pulled hundreds of millions of dollars of investment out of the US and the UK. It was enough to help him to a 32pc return last year. But amid the turbulence of 2008, he admits he is barely breaking even.

Note: Headline links to source.

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