Soros on Europe
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  • Kenny

    Oh, it’s “George” says this and “George” says that.

    Mr. Mead, you sound like a love sick puppy when speaking of this leftist.

    Are you trolling for some of Soros’ money that heretofore you haven’t had? I’m just asking.

  • Anthony

    “The insufficient job creation, stagnant earnings, and alarming long-term unemployment highlighted by May’s disheartening jobs report underscore America’s persistent unemployment crisis. The numbers also speak to synchronized slow down that is now taking hold of the global economy.” The aforementioned is world the Europe construct (world’s largest economic zone) with all the fundamental issues alluded to by George Soros now appears to be at play – he’s right the “fantastic object” needs a convincing commitment to reverse trend.

  • WigWag

    “And what does the world’s most successful financial investor thinks will actually happen?” (Walter Russell Mead)

    A slight quibble; George Soros is an incredibly successful financial investor but he is far from the “worlds most successful” financial investor.

    Soros’ hedge fund has now been dissolved; he now only invests/speculates with his family’s fortune and the charitable trusts that he has established. Nevertheless, during the past several years when his fund was managing other people’s money (primarily the money of large institutional investors and billionaires and multimillionaires) Soros’ funds were rarely the most successful of the successful. Many hedge fund managers produced results that were significantly better than his.

    Like many of the most successful hedge funds, Soros’ reputation was made when one enormous bet he made paid off big time. After hitting the jackpot a few decades ago, Soros has achieved returns far beyond what the average investor can achieve. Nevertheless, these returns were hardly either unprecedented or the most successful when measured against the success of other funds.

    Whatever one thinks of Soros’ politics or the mess he’s made of his personal life, there is one area where Soros truly is unique; his personal commitment to philanthropy.

    Several years ago, an equally successful hedge fund manager, Paul Tudor Jones, created a charity called the Robin Hood Foundation designed to assist impoverished New Yorkers. The Foundation does extraordinary work; over the years it has given away billions of dollars (note the “b” not an “m”) to fight poverty in highly intelligent ways. Although Soros is not the wealthiest man on Wall Street (far from it actually), he is the most generous. He is the largest single contributor to the Robin Hood Foundation; his contributions are measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

    More on the Foundation can be found here,

    Professor Mead is in error when he calls Soros “the world’s most successful financial investor” but he is right to point out that Soros is a brilliant, generous and extraordinary person.

  • I’d read Soros, except for the fact that he has caused so many innocent people to lose their livelihoods through his financial dealings, and he hates the US and our form of government, and is doing his best to overthrow it.

    Soros has made it very clear that he is my and my country’s enemy. The only reason to read him is to find out where he will turn his satanic interest next, and who he will harm.

  • ErisGuy

    “George was among those who saw the promise of the EU and hoped that it would serve as the blueprint for a more enlightened and successful form of governance than anything here in the US.”

    It was my understanding George had first-hand experience of last two attempts by EUropeans to found new forms of governance. Couldn’t wish these new forms on a more deserving people. Someday EUropeans will try freedom. Someday.

  • I too disagree often with Soros, but he seems right on the money here. The European project has always struck me as a stretch if it was to go all the way to full political union. I’m not a European, but I am an American of European origin and even to me the real differences among the peoples of Europe are simply too great, too real and …well too wonderful… to be erased by a “fantastic object”. What use would Paris be peopled by generic Europeans? Do we really want an Irishman to be just like a Greek? Not me and more importantly not the Greeks just now! I am not certain but it seems to me that culturally what is happening is a resistance to national identity being submerged by a badly thought through ideal of political union. I think the problem is manifesting as an economic one now because it was believed that economic union could be used to push for political union. European differences manifested as a military problem in the 40s and that history is the key driver behind the current striving for political union through economics. It isn’t working because I think it is trying to submerge national identity.

    John Rosenthal in an article in World Affairs discusses how flawed financial mechanisms used to lead up to the Euro driven by political ambition have created economic distortions that have led to the current impasse. Here is a key quote that connects to Soros’s idea of a “fantastic object”.

    Connolly argued that the push toward monetary union was essentially driven by political considerations, which were persistently allowed to trump the economic illogic of the project. Whatever their differences—and they are legion—the French and German promoters of monetary union shared, as Connolly put it, a common “conception of the interaction between politics and economics.” “In that conception,” he wrote, “economics—and monetary economics in particular—is the instrument of political hegemony . . . currencies are an expression of state or caste power, and the wider the currency’s domain, the greater the power of those who control it.”

    The point of monetary union was not the economic well-being of the European “periphery,” which would almost surely be condemned to relative impoverishment and dependency by the project’s realization. The point was power: creating an “economic space” large enough to permit Europe to challenge the United States for global supremacy. The European sovereign debt crisis—as much by the European elites’ response to it as by its mere occurrence—has proven Connolly right.

  • Richard White

    I am wholly unable to understand your characterization of George Soros as a philanthropist, or friend of the EU. So far as I can observe, he creates leftist political movements to advance the Blue Social Model to the breaking point, then profits massively from the resulting economic chaos and currency weaknesses his political initiatives have created.

    Short of mass murder, is there anything more evil, less friendly and less philanthropic?

  • WigWag

    The hostility towards Soros shown by many of the commenters here is way over done; it demonstrates little more than the ignorance that often results from being chronically irate.

    Soros is hardly the only billionaire to use his wealth to promote his ideological point of view; Wall Street millionaires and billionaires do it all the time on all sides of the political spectrum. So do billionaires whose wealth emanates from other businesses. The Koch brothers come to mind; so does Sheldon Adelson, the Ricketts Family and many others.

    What distinguishes Soros from many of his colleagues in the billionaires boys club is that he is smarter and more philanthropic than most. I frequently disagree with him as well (he is contemptuous of Israel for example); but it is a sign of dimwittedness to doubt his generosity.

    Sure, Soros uses his philanthropic activities as a catalyst to advance his ideological perspective; so what? He did more to advance civil society in the former Warsaw Pact states than anyone alive; people of all ideological views should celebrate him for that. Soros’ generosity goes far beyond supporting activities with relevance to the political sphere. His support of arts, civic and cultural organizations is well known as is his support for health care organizations and organizations fighting poverty.

    Those who can’t see beyond their political disagreements with Soros are merely demonstrating how truly small minded they are.

  • Dr. Mead, It’s not extremely relevant to this particular article, but maybe someday you could help reconcile the information about George Soros, the Emmanuel Goldstein of the right, with the George Soros described in Alex Goldfarb’s book about The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Sorry, Dr. Mead, but if I were pals with George Soros then, unlike you, I’d scrupulously avoid claiming the high moral ground about antisemitism in Europe. Not because Soros is a Jew, of course, but because Soros has possibly bankrolled more antisemitic propaganda than you can find in any single continental European country.

    NB: by using the adjective “continental”, I mean to exclude not only Britain+Ireland, but also Sweden+Norway. (Though not all these countries are necessarily worse than the Soros outfits, when it comes to propaganda.)

  • “Bubble.” I’m no fan of Soros, but that’s definitely the operative word here. Indeed it seems more than adequate to describe an entire global economic culture of that period (which of course Mr Soros did more than his share of encouraging).

    For the rest of it, have to say I’m staunchly in Mr Gude’s camp re the larger question of Europe falsely so-called.

  • Otiose

    While Soros correctly notes some important developments going on in Europe his assessment as to a possible solution – particularly that there is a window of 3 months during which all that is needed is for the German’s to give over free access of their credit to the rest of Europe – is just wrong.

    So Germany steps up and guarantees continued debt accumulation by the French, Italians, Spanish, etc, how does that change the fact that there are a great many Europeans living far in excess of their wealth generation capabilities?

    On the other hand if you read his full remarks, he identifies several trends that have been underway for a few years and virtually guarantee the breakdown of the system as it stands now and will prevent any greater unification of the political and fiscal systems of the various sovereign entities involved.

    Banks have gorged on sovereign debt and are largely bankrupt. In the last few years they have been selling off other sovereign debt and buying that of their own country – often under duress from regulatory and/or political authorities, who would not hesitate to remove the management of any bank that refused to join the downward suicidal spiral most of Europe is now in.

    This downward spiral is well underway and there is no three month window. This situation has to end when other people’s money/credit runs out and the cost structures are adjusted for them.

    Iceland was the first canary, but since it took real austerity – more or less – up front their successful adjustments are more overlooked by the media than not. Greece which has refused to face up to the cost adjustments required is suffering more and getting all the headlines.

    What Germany has to avoid is taking the blame for the hardship that is to come for much of Europe. And because many intelligent and thoughtful people wrongfully (wishfully) believe that the Germans and Germany have it within their abilities to ‘fix’ things if only they would compromise a little (e.g. Eurobonds, inflation, or whatever), they have some artful spinning ahead.

    That’s why they keep discussing silly ideas put out there by desperate politicians and also why they don’t use the fiscal power they do have to more directly demand drastic and specific changes within other sovereign entities. No German wants to be seen as dictating anything to other Europeans for obvious historical reasons. The best they can hope for is to not leave direct fingerprints on the adjustments that are coming and hope that their expressions of concern and attempts to negotiate a solution (that doesn’t exist) deflect most of the bad feeling that will look for someone to blame. The Germans would be happy if the politicians within each country get most of that blame and those same politicians will look to deflect the blame and repercussions to others (e.g. Germans).

  • David Bennett

    I would like to echo the comment of The Reticulator. Now that you have carved out a controversial position on a public figure I think you owe us much more of an explanation.

  • Walter Sobchak

    Soros has gotten very rich from very questionable dealings. If there were any justice, he would be breaking rocks in the hot sun.

  • anh

    “George has a depth and range of knowledge and experience about Europe that is largely unmatched.”

    And he uses that knowledge to fleece everyone.

  • nadine

    I would like to second David White’s remarks. Politically speaking, Soros is the arsonist who sounds wise by crying “Fire!” at regular intervals.

    Wigwag, yes, Soros is not alone in using his billions to back his ideology. People don’t object to Soros spending his money. The objection is to the nature of his ideology, which is destructive; to all appearances purposely so.

    Soros is for the unworkable Blue Social Model in Europe and America, and for the destruction of Israel in the Mideast. His OSI foundation supports far-left think tanks and the pro Islamist “al Qaeda bar”, e.g. Lynne Stewart. He has done yeoman’s work for all these causes. Set against that, I don’t care much about his philanthropic work in New York.

    My working assumption about George Soros is that the lesson he took away from his teenage years in Hungary as a hidden child and collaborator, is that one should always side with the strong; essentially, I believe, Soros internalized the ethics of the ruling Nazi regime.

  • Corlyss

    “fantastic object”

    The law has an even more cojent name for such things: attractive nuisance. Originally applied to rairroad round houses inadequately secured from curious little boys who would be drawn to their deaths there, it serves admirably for the kind of things that emerged from WW2 – schemes (the welfare state) and dreams (a United States of Europe) so perversely constructed as to seem “the answer for everything” but were paths to nowhere and impoverishing into the bargain.

    I find no comfort in sages and prognosticators who say the Euro project will not fail because the consequences of failure are too awful to contemplate. Seems to me the sages said the same thing in 1910 about war in Europe. Can’t happen. We’re too interconnected. The consequences are too disastrous to contemplate. Won’t happen here because it can’t happen here. People try to freeze everything in a picture they like. Life if too complex to “plan” like that. Chaos theory will get ALWAYS you in the end.

  • Corlyss

    “Those who can’t see beyond their political disagreements with Soros are merely demonstrating how truly small minded they are.”

    LOL If I could wave a wand and get him out of American, particularly trendy lefty crap politics, I’d do it and gladly be called “small minded.” Small price to pay.

  • Kenny

    Here’s a web site that monitors what Soros is up to.

  • Hayne Hamilton

    The EU and Schengen Treaty were based on a flawed notion not new to Europeans. Great hopes and false premises recur in abrogated treaties, dashed hopes, and worse. In the early 1900’s the socialist workers parties claimed solidarity among workers in opposition to the bourgeousie and ruling elites. Although they sqabbled about means, the leadership was certain that the if war was threatened, the solidarity of workers, through the International, would refuse to go to war. “Freed from the false patriotism, workingmen linked by their underlying brotherhood would no longer fight each other” Barbara Tuchman, “The Proud Tower”. in Europe, national interests will always trump international arrangements,obligations, and sacred promises. That time it was the Socialists. This time it was the economists and finanaciers. Sorosmay imagine that the changes required will be radical to get back to normal in Europe. HH

  • thibaud

    Soros is correct: the logical and likely outcome is that the euro will survive, the eurozone will have significantly greater/tighter integration, and that integration will largely be on Germany’s terms. Germany is the powerhouse of Europe, the source of European wealth dynamism and financial strength.

    Europe will either become much more integrated or it will cease to exist as a meaningful, coherent economic entity.

    The price of continued European existence is German dominance. To acknowledge this is not to make a moral judgment but to recognize certain realities. The sooner the Europeans do so, the better off they – and we – will be.

    A weak and broken Europe = America in permanent recession. We need Europe to succeed, and we should be doing everything we can to push, nudge and coax the Europeans to accept German predominance within a tighter, more unified, integrated Europe.

  • thibaud

    German nearshore manufacturing should begin moving to Spain and Greece in addition to eastern Europe. Entrepreneurial young east Germans, Poles and other east Europeans should likewise bring their talents and energy to Spain and Greece.

    The model here is of American yankees moving south in the 20c – and European and Japanese manufacturers in recent years – and raising the standard of living, the level of economic activity and the general cultural level of backward southern states.

    Spain and Greece need to receive the same kind of influx of talent, capital and cosmopolitanism that Atlanta, Charlotte and other southern cities have benefited from in our own era.

  • Jim.

    Soros gets a lot of things almost-right, but that speck of wrongness overturns any benefit that his rightness has to offer, like a negative sign in the wrong place in an equation.

    I’ve posted before about the way people apply what is a good idea under certain circumstances more broadly than those circumstances apply; Soros calls this “reflexivity”. (Discovering students who can benefit from college can be done via a standardized test – the SAT; however, applied without the underlying academic virtue of broad intellectual experience, this can and is gamed to the point that it ceases to be useful.)

    Soros’ problem is that he misses the point completely about the fact that good ideas must be supported with virtues — traditional virtues! — that his ideas about “open society” militate against. He notes that attempts to build up fail; he does not note these failures are explained by departures from tradition — tradition that he vehemently opposes.

    Regarding the current crisis, particularly Germany’s role in it, Soros is offbase because he’s simply a product of his age. He needs to read more Niall Ferguson — “Germans now have it in their hands to take over all of Europe; but they really don’t want to be bothered” is the punch line of one of Ferguson’s recent essays.

    Germany is not plotting to take over Europe. They have no evil plan to turn the rest into a “hinterland”. That is paranoia on Soros’ part. (Would that he had a McCarthyite distrust of Socialism, to balance his irrational fears.)

    If “the wealth effect” (readily available credit) failed to turn Greece into a Blue Model paradise, that’s because the Blue Model by its nature squanders the money it borrows, not because German bankers had some evil conspiracy in mind.

    German bankers shouldn’t have been so stupid as to loan money to deadbeats; Greeks shouldn’t have been deadbeats. Intelligence and prudence — Virtue — counteracts the downsides of reflexivity. “Open Society” meets the Gods of the Copybook Headings. Guess who wins.

    No, what George ultimately wants is a society that has all the benefits of constructive virtue with none of the strictures of constructive virtue.

    That’s never going to happen. Period.

  • thibaud

    Actually, Merkel’s already moving in the direction that I predicted. Here’s a good Reuters article on this new German drive for fiscal union under German leadership:


    After falling short with her “fiscal compact” on budget discipline, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pressing for much more ambitious measures, including a central authority to manage euro area finances, and major new powers for the European Commission, European Parliament and European Court of Justice.

    She is also seeking a coordinated European approach to reforming labour markets, social security systems and tax policies, German officials say.

    Until states agree to these steps and the unprecedented loss of sovereignty they involve, the officials say Berlin will refuse to consider other initiatives like joint euro zone bonds or a “banking union” with cross-border deposit guarantees – steps Berlin says could only come in a second wave.

    The goal is for EU leaders to agree to develop a road map to “fiscal union” at a June 28-29 EU summit…. European countries would then put the meat on the bones of the plan in the second half of 2012, several European sources have told Reuters, including a timetable for overhauling EU treaties, a step Berlin sees as vital for setting closer integration in stone.

    “The fundamental question is relatively simple. Do our partners really want more Europe, or do they just want more German money?” a government official in Berlin said.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Now that I read Soros’ article, my first reaction is: with friends like Soros, the EU does not need any enemies…and that does not even begin to address whether a friend of the EU is a friend of European people, which is an increasingly dubious proposition.

    There are lots of unresolved contradictions in the essay, eg how can an EU with a permanent flow of money out of Germany, be reasonably said to be dominated by Germany? that would be like saying that the Roman Empire was dominated by Egypt.

    Also, Soros notes (presumably correctly) that the Bundesbank would lose a lot of money in a breakup of the eurozone, and what solution does he propose? the Bundesbank should throw good money after bad!

    Most important, I see no recognition that it is Obamaesque policies (deficit spending + regulation) that put Greece et al into this mess, and are keeping them there.

  • Jim.


    So what are the chances of these new German ideas passing a plebiscite in Greece? France?


  • Kris

    [email protected]: “Europe will either become much more integrated or it will cease to exist as a meaningful, coherent economic entity.”

    I tend to agree, but if the Eurozone breaks up, will the resulting parts be significantly less than the current whole? The answer obviously impacts your advice that the US promote integration. (There is also the practical problem of the US and Germany being seen as uniting to bully other Europeans.)

    As to your advice @22, I have absolutely no objection to it, but isn’t it begging the question? This kind of “internal” migration could well eventually promote European unification and integration, but it also depends on it, and there’s a reason it hasn’t happened sufficiently.

  • Kris

    [email protected]: “So what are the chances of these new German ideas passing a plebiscite in Greece? France? …Germany?”

    Don’t be silly; this issue is much too important to be left to the plebes!


  • thibaud

    @Jim – the voters have already voted their pocketbooks, transferring their savings to German banks. Most of them will in due course transfer their political allegiance as well.

    Again, the choice here is not being a slightly less-rich virtuous independence and abject servitude; it’s between economic COLLAPSE ie real and enduring poverty and giving up some sovereignty so as to rejoin the ranks of prosperous, economically-sustainable polities.

  • FeFe

    “…bring relief to the financial markets and the banking system” always the mantra for years now, never anything along the lines of bring liberty to the people yearning to breath free. The Soros/EU dreamed “blueprint for a more enlightened and successful form of governance than anything here in the US” translated by those who just don’t get middle America has morphed into not civic participation through American founding principles but goals of good civic participation through consumerism. It suddenly strikes me this speech isn’t about anything of which we are speaking. This is about re-militarizing Germany. Not that Germany or her people want to but that it will be necessary if they become the wheel axle “center” to the EU spokes “periphery” in a fully realized intergovernmental harmonization of the “fantastic object” d’ art. America is pulling back from the region; troops leaving bases in Germany and Obama cancelled the missile defense shield in Poland/Czech Republic, and into the void must come good soldiering with the power to cross borders. Who better to take command implementing, outfitting and paying for such a counter force in that theater of operation than Germany? Caesar couldn’t be reached for comment.

    Will Germany accept the laurel? Someone must be the yin to America’s yang, no? Putin’s Russia, ChiCom China or the House of Saud just don’t work as power anchors on the other side of the globe if narratives that crony capitalism is corruption, and property rights and individual human dignity lead to more equitable prosperity all continue to radiate from the United States of America. The PIIGS, BRICS and any emerging markets power brokers all yearn to be wooed by united grandiose promises from united global business oligarchs and united Brussels overlords who pay no tax over such dead American language of “limited government” from profligate State Department employees with a pension and Cadillac healthcare bearing gifts and ID as the largest federal government in the world. “If we hold the united course then America will continue to intergovernmental harmonize with Europe, and soon their people will realize that America is beyond their founding and they are, too, now proud to be just like the Old World.”

    Continental Fascists (Global corporatists unite!) vs. Anglosphere90210 (Corporatists, do you really think they’ll let you keep what you have? Unite with us and stay for our (new! studio) system of earned media, international branding and product placement advertising: re-engineered American culture in a “green” package as consumerist metric. Get plugged into the Connected Generation with our celebrity junkets of world marketing, and your daughters too can be reality TV stars from any asset holding McMansion of your choice. Government as charity primetime story-lines guaranteed with our unmatched high production value propaganda — ignore the Conservatives’ in the corner animated spirit of liberty through limited government and free-markets [our international collectivist media blanket wont give their Reagan-model message or sloganeering “MagnaCartAnglosphere” oxygen, promise!, and we will continue to hyperventilate calling the Tea Party raaaaacist for pointing out masterminds trying to get their piece of the pie over the moral enterprise of growing the pie for all], and dabble with the black-market Libertarians offering your children drugs and prostitution at your own risk.) — WWII Redeux: International Logos Short Circuit. New world borders indicate market share.

    NATO, EU and UN troops all have to be paid for and given orders, and all of the best friends of the EU, such as Soros, proffer them to Germany like jewels in a crown. I don’t believe the masterminds of the EU in 1957 thought Germany would be the standard-bearer but here we are; and here they are, the last man standing solvent. Will Germany agree to forge a new scepter? Bismark couldn’t be reached for comment.

  • Mark Michael

    Re: George Soros’ ethics in the conduct of his hedge fund around the world

    Soros seems to breed resentment in most countries in Europe where he invests. For example, he was convicted of insider trader in France in 2002 and runs the risk of being arrested if he sets foot in the country. He appealed his conviction and it was upheld, but he has another appeal that won’t be resolved until 2013.

    See this NY Times article about it, which is quite sympathetic to Soros:

    Now, insider trading laws can be quite murky, but most straight-arrow investors do not ever run the risk of getting crossways with them. Only investors who are chatting up “insiders” have that possibility. You know, trying to get an edge over the ordinary investor.

    An excerpt:

    “Mr. Soros, 81, was convicted of insider trading in 2002 by a French appeals court and fined 2.2 million euros — the equivalent of what he was accused of making — after a Paris court found that he had bought and sold shares of Société Générale in 1988 with the knowledge that the bank might be a takeover target. Two co-defendants, one of them a former senior official of the French Finance Ministry, were acquitted.

    “The case dates back to the privatization of Société Générale by a center-right government in 1987. The following year, a Socialist-led government sought to regain control of the bank. Sensing an opportunity, a group of investors connected to the French financier Georges Pébereau devised a plan to acquire control of the bank, sending its share price soaring.

    “Mr. Pébereau’s raid was unsuccessful. But in September 1988, an associate of Mr. Pébereau informed Mr. Soros of the plans for the bid in a telephone conversation, according to court testimony in the case. (Georges Pébereau is the brother of Michel Pébereau, who was chief executive of BNP Paribas, a Société Générale rival, from 1993 to 2003.)”

    He also indulged in name calling of Republicans: He called George W. Bush a fascist who was turning America into another Nazi-like country as I recall. That kind of hyperbolic demonizing of someone I consider a innately decent, patriotic, democracy-respecting individual is despicable behavior IMO. It’s hard to respect such a man.

  • thibaud

    @ Kris – one of many reasons why it would be self-defeating and foolish, hence all but impossible, for the eurozone to break up is that Germany is an export juggernaut that benefits hugely from a weak currency.

    Were Germany to resort to the Deutschmark, her exports would dry up overnight.

    It makes sense for Germany above all to keep the eurozone, and to suck up the costs of greater fiscal union.

  • Kris

    [email protected]: Thanks for your reply.

    I agree with you that the best overall economic outcome lies in closer unification and integration. I disagree with you regarding the odds that there will be true integration. And if there is no true integration, I doubt that the costs to Germany will be worthwhile. But I have no objection in principle to your prescription/prediction (other than the observation that the US should be exceedingly cautious in any intervention), and I’ll be quite happy if it comes to pass.

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