Soros Says `We Have Just Entered Act II’ of Crisis

Friday, June 11, 2010
By Paul Martin

By Zoe Schneeweiss and Andrew MacAskill
Bloomberg.com

Billionaire investor George Soros said “we have just entered Act II” of the crisis as Europe’s fiscal woes worsen and governments are pressured to curb budget deficits that may push the global economy back into recession.

“The collapse of the financial system as we know it is real, and the crisis is far from over,” Soros said today at a conference in Vienna. “Indeed, we have just entered Act II of the drama.”

Soros, 79, said the current situation in the world economy is “eerily” reminiscent of the 1930s with governments under pressure to narrow their budget deficits at a time when the economic recovery is weak.

Concern that Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis may spread sent the euro to a four-year low against the dollar on June 7 and has wiped out more than $4 trillion from global stock markets this year. Europe’s debt-ridden nations have to raise almost 2 trillion euros ($2.4 trillion) within the next three years to refinance, according to Bank of America Corp.

“When the financial markets started losing confidence in the credibility of sovereign debt, Greece and the euro have taken center stage, but the effects are liable to be felt worldwide,” Soros said.

Soros gained fame in the 1990s when he reportedly made $1 billion correctly betting against the British pound. He also wagered that Germany’s mark would appreciate after the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and that Japanese stocks would start to fall in the same year. His firm, Soros Fund Management LLC, manages about $25 billion.

Credit default swaps, which aim to protect bondholders against the risk of a default, are dangerous and a “license to kill,” Soros said today. CDSs should only be allowed if there is an insurable interest, he said.

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