George Soros – financial guru, political activist, or philanthropist?

George Soros - Savvy trader and philanthropist or enemy of the people?

George Soros, the infamous Hungarian-American investor, who once made $1 billion in a day by shorting the British pound, is in the headlines again recently and for a variety of reasons. Soros is a lightning rod of controversy and his recent remarks at a conference in Munich has people up in arms on three continents.

Soros’ latest statements along with a recent report from the US based Media Research Center (MRC) beg a decades long question about his true role in the world – is he just a very adept trader, a political activist, or a generous philanthropist?

The answer: All of the above. This is not a matter of opinion, but based on his own admissions and actions regarding his goals, global vision, and reflections of current and former projects. 

Of course, Soros has generated a large following of supporters worldwide especially from those that have directly and indirectly benefited from his projects, books, advice, and definitely his money. However, there is an equal sized, if not greater, group of detractors that believe he wields his money, power, and influence in ways that are harmful and at times even illegal. 

Let’s do a quick breakdown of the man from a financial and political activist point of view and allow you to decide for yourself. 

Forex and Financial Superstar or Market Manipulator?

Soros and the financial entities that he and his family head have been extremely successful in identifying great buying/selling positions within the market. His financial moves have been winners so consistently that it exceeds any possibility of “luck”. 

Soros himself has been very forthcoming about his strategies and success and unlike many people in his position, he hasn’t dodged interviews or the media in the process. He’s even published 15 books, most of which are focused on helping others trade better in today’s markets. 

Some highlights from Soros’ recommendations for more successful trading include:

Be on the lookout for economic mistakes and exploit them, something he did expertly by shorting the pound the UK was experiencing monetary issues. 

Don’t be afraid to take risks. This goes against much of conservative investment advice, but the billionaire insists that luck favors the bold. 

Act quickly while thinking independently. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain. Be sure to do your due diligence, of course, but once you’ve decided, be decisive. 

All in all, these are some good pointers for anyone getting started with investing. Books by Soros cover a broad range of investment help and explanations and most people agree they provide sound explanations and not just “fluff”. 

On the flip side, Soros and his companies have been sued, indicted, and even convicted of insider trading. The conviction occurred in 2002 in France and Soros was fined millions of dollars – a sum equal to the amount of profits he made off the investments in question. 

A host of other financial regulatory institutions have taken issue with some of his dealings. However, to be fair, many independent analysts who have explored the French case believe that it was fairly weak. 

Large investment groups or individuals often influence markets by their actions and with all of his activity in the financial world coupled with his extensive contacts, it is easy to see how he could be suspected of improper scheming to manipulate markets. Proving such behavior is where it gets difficult and that requires the media and government to actually investigate. Interestingly, it is rare to see the mainstream media or the US government investigating Soros – a point we get to in the next section.

Social Reformer or Political Instigator?

Soros is politically active in the US and donates a large amount of money to politicians in state and national elections. Most of these go to the candidates of the Democrat Party. He is also very vocal in his contempt for certain candidates of the Republican Party, especially Donald Trump, which has attracted the ire of Republicans and Libertarians alike in the US.

Internationally, he has also taken shots at other leaders, most recently Indian Prime Minister Modi and Turkish Recept Erdogan while speaking at the Munich Security Conference. India’s response in particular was quick and bi-partisan in stressing that the billionaire could keep his nose and comments out of New Delhi’s internal affairs. 

Additionally, Soros funds a variety of projects either directly or through his Open Society Foundation NGO. The NGO then goes on to fund individual projects or contribute to existing organizations worldwide. Many of these groups focus on social justice issues, the training of journalists and news outlet creation, and the promotion of democratic processes. 

Soros and his family have contributed well over $100 million to such organizations in just the past few years alone according to the MRC in a recent report. Advocates claim that his generosity is helping to train a new generation of journalists, support the rights of marginalized people, and spread democracy in countries with oppressive regimes.

However, there is a great deal of criticism regarding Soros involvement in so many arenas around the globe. Many fear that his influence and money has helped sparked civil unrest in many countries, some of which have even led to the overthrow of the government such as the 2014 coup in Ukraine – an event the billionaire has proudly noted was organized by civic groups he helped fund for years before the Maidan uprising. The government in his native Hungary even launched an anti-Soros campaign a few years back to help limit his influence in the country.

Other criticism is grounded in research of the activities of the groups and individuals he funds. The MRC report from earlier this year shows that Soros had financial ties to an astounding 253 media organizations worldwide and funding links to 54 influential media personalities. The concern here is that these groups are unlikely to conduct unbiased and accurate reports on the dealings of their financial benefactor.  

Unfortunately, a deep look at George Soros unearths more questions than answers when deciding if he is a crusader for democracy and human rights, a globalist seeking a unipolar world, or a businessman looking for opportunities. 

Is Soros using his wealth philanthropically to “give back” to the world or is he seeking to create division and chaos by funding such organizations in order to capitalize on the opportunities?