Soros was born in Budapest in the Kingdom of Hungary to a prosperous non-observant Jewish family, who, like many upper-middle class Hungarian Jews at the time, were uncomfortable with their roots. Soros has wryly described his home as a Jewish antisemitic home. His mother Erzsébet (also known as Elizabeth) came from a family that owned a thriving silk shop. His father Tivadar (also known as Teodoro Ŝvarc) was a lawyer and a well-known Esperanto-speaker who edited the Esperanto literary magazine Literatura Mondo and raised his son to speak the language. Tivadar had also been a prisoner of war during and after World War I until he escaped from Russia and rejoined his family in Budapest. The two married in 1924. In 1936, Soros's family changed their name from the German-Jewish Schwartz to Soros, as protective camouflage in increasingly antisemitic Hungary. Tivadar liked the new name because it is a palindrome and because of its meaning. In Hungarian, soros means "next in line," or "designated successor"; in Esperanto it means "will soar."
George Soros, Hon FBA (born Schwartz György, August 12, 1930) is a Hungarian-born American billionaire investor and philanthropist. As of May 2020 , he had a net worth of $8.3 billion, having donated more than $32 billion to the Open Society Foundations.
Soros has been married three times and divorced twice. In 1960, he married Annaliese Witschak (born January 3, 1934). Annaliese was an ethnic German immigrant, who had been orphaned during the war. Although she was not Jewish, she was well-liked by Soros's parents as she had also experienced the privation and displacement brought about by World War II. They divorced in 1983. They had three children:
Soros did not return to that job; his family survived the war by purchasing documents to say that they were Christians. Later that year at age 14, Soros posed as the Christian godson of an official of the collaborationist Hungarian government's Ministry of Agriculture, who himself had a Jewish wife in hiding. On one occasion, rather than leave the 14-year-old alone, the official took Soros with him while completing an inventory of a Jewish family's confiscated estate. Tivadar saved not only his immediate family but also many other Hungarian Jews, and Soros later wrote that 1944 had been "the happiest [year] of his life," for it had given him the opportunity to witness his father's heroism. In 1945, Soros survived the Siege of Budapest, in which Soviet and German forces fought house-to-house through the city.
Soros was 13 years old in March 1944 when Nazi Germany occupied Hungary. The Nazis barred Jewish children from attending school, and Soros and the other schoolchildren were made to report to the Judenrat ("Jewish Council"), which had been established during the occupation. Soros later described this time to writer Michael Lewis: "The Jewish Council asked the little kids to hand out the deportation notices. I was told to go to the Jewish Council. And there I was given these small slips of paper ... I took this piece of paper to my father. He instantly recognized it. This was a list of Hungarian Jewish lawyers. He said, 'You deliver the slips of paper and tell the people that if they report they will be deported'."
Born in Budapest, Soros survived German-occupied-Hungary and moved to the United Kingdom in 1947. He studied at the London School of Economics and was awarded a bachelor's, then obtaining a master's, and eventually a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) from University of London. Soros began his business career by taking various jobs at merchant banks in the United Kingdom and then the United States, before starting his first hedge fund, Double Eagle, in 1969. Profits from his first fund furnished the seed money to start Soros Fund Management, his second hedge fund, in 1970. Double Eagle was renamed to Quantum Fund and was the principal firm Soros advised. At its founding, Quantum Fund had $12 million in assets under management, and as of 2011 it had $25 billion, the majority of Soros's overall net worth.
In 1947, Soros moved to England and became a student at the London School of Economics. While a student of the philosopher Karl Popper, Soros worked as a railway porter and as a waiter, and once received £40 from a Quaker charity. Soros would sometimes stand at Speakers' Corner lecturing about the virtues of internationalism in Esperanto, which he had learned from his father.
From the London School of Economics, Soros graduated as a Bachelor of Science in philosophy in 1951, and a Master of Science in philosophy in 1954. He later received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the University of London.
In 1954, Soros began his financial career at the merchant bank Singer & Friedlander of London. He worked as a clerk and later moved to the arbitrage department. A fellow employee, Robert Mayer, suggested he apply at his father's brokerage house, F.M. Mayer of New York.
In 1956, Soros moved to New York City, where he worked as an arbitrage trader for F. M. Mayer (1956–59). He specialized in European stocks, which were becoming popular with U.S. institutional investors following the formation of the Coal and Steel Community, which later became the Common Market.
In 1959, after three years at F. M. Mayer, Soros moved to Wertheim & Co.. He planned to stay for five years, enough time to save $500,000, after which he intended to return to England to study philosophy. He worked as an analyst of European securities until 1963.
From 1963 to 1973, Soros's experience as a vice president at Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder resulted in little enthusiasm for the job; business was slack following the introduction of the Interest Equalization Tax, which undermined the viability of Soros's European trading. He spent the years from 1963 to 1966 with his main focus on the revision of his philosophy dissertation. In 1966 he started a fund with $100,000 of the firm's money to experiment with his trading strategies.
In 1969, Soros set up the Double Eagle hedge fund with $4m of investors' capital including $250,000 of his own money. It was based in Curaçao, Dutch Antilles. Double Eagle itself was an offshoot of Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder's First Eagle fund established by Soros and that firm's chairman Henry H. Arnhold in 1967.
In 1970, Soros founded Soros Fund Management and became its chairman. Among those who held senior positions there at various times were Jim Rogers, Stanley Druckenmiller, Mark Schwartz, Keith Anderson, and Soros's two sons.
In 1973, due to perceived conflicts of interest limiting his ability to run the two funds, Soros resigned from the management of the Double Eagle Fund. He then established the Soros Fund and gave investors in the Double Eagle Fund the option of transferring to that or staying with Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder.
In 1973, the Double Eagle Fund had $12 million and formed the basis of the Soros Fund. George Soros and Jim Rogers received returns on their share of capital and 20 percent of the profits each year.
In 2013, the Quantum Fund made $5.5 billion, making it again the most successful hedge fund in history. Since its inception in 1973, the fund has generated $40 billion.
In January 2014, Soros was ranked number 1 in LCH Investments list of top 20 managers having posting gains of almost $42 billion since the launch of his Quantum Endowment Fund in 1973.
Soros received honorary doctoral degrees from the New School for Social Research (New York), the University of Oxford in 1980, the Corvinus University of Budapest, and Yale University in 1991. He received an honorary degree in economics from the University of Bologna in 1995.
In 1983, George Soros married Susan Weber. They divorced in 2005. They have two children:
According to Waldemar A. Nielsen, an authority on American philanthropy, "[Soros] has undertaken ... nothing less than to open up the once-closed communist societies of Eastern Europe to a free flow of ideas and scientific knowledge from the outside world." From 1979, as an advocate of 'open societies', Soros financially supported dissidents including Poland's Solidarity movement, Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia and Andrei Sakharov in the Soviet Union. In 1984, he founded his first Open Society Institute in Hungary with a budget of $3 million.
I have a record of crying wolf ... I did it first in The Alchemy of Finance (in 1987), then in The Crisis of Global Capitalism (in 1998), and now in this book. So it's three books predicting disaster. [After] the boy cried wolf three times ... the wolf really came.
In 1988, Soros was contacted by a French financier named Georges Pébereau, who asked him to participate in an effort to assemble a group of investors to purchase a large number of shares in Société Générale, a leading French bank that was part of a privatization program (something instituted by the new government under Jacques Chirac). Soros eventually decided against participating in the group effort, opting to personally move forward with his strategy of accumulating shares in four French companies: Société Générale, as well as Suez, Paribas, and the Compagnie Générale d'Électricité.
In 1989, the Commission des Opérations de Bourse (COB, the French stock exchange regulatory authority) conducted an investigation of whether Soros's transaction in Société Générale should be considered insider trading. Soros had received no information from the Société Générale and had no insider knowledge of the business, but he did possess knowledge that a group of investors was planning a takeover attempt. Initial investigations found Soros innocent, and no charges were brought forward. However, the case was reopened a few years later, and the French Supreme Court confirmed the conviction on June 14, 2006, although it reduced the penalty to €940,000.
Soros had been building a huge short position in pounds sterling for months leading up to September 1992. Soros had recognized the unfavorable position of the United Kingdom in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. For Soros, the rate at which the United Kingdom was brought into the European Exchange Rate Mechanism was too high, their inflation was also much too high (triple the German rate), and British interest rates were hurting their asset prices.
By September 16, 1992, the day of Black Wednesday, Soros's fund had sold short more than $10 billion in pounds, profiting from the UK government's reluctance to either raise its interest rates to levels comparable to those of other European Exchange Rate Mechanism countries or float its currency.
On October 26, 1992, The New York Times quoted Soros as saying: "Our total position by Black Wednesday had to be worth almost $10 billion. We planned to sell more than that. In fact, when Norman Lamont said just before the devaluation that he would borrow nearly $15 billion to defend sterling, we were amused because that was about how much we wanted to sell."
The Project on Death in America, active from 1994 to 2003, was one of the Open Society Institute's projects, which sought to "understand and transform the culture and experience of dying and bereavement." In 1994, Soros delivered a speech in which he reported that he had offered to help his mother, a member of the right-to-die advocacy organization Hemlock Society, commit suicide. In the same speech, he also endorsed the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, proceeding to help fund its advertising campaign.
In 2005, Soros was a minority partner in a group that tried to buy the Washington Nationals, a Major League baseball team. Some Republican lawmakers suggested that they might move to revoke Major League Baseball's antitrust exemption if Soros bought the team. In 2008, Soros's name was associated with AS Roma, an Italian association football team, but the club was not sold. Soros was a financial backer of Washington Soccer L.P., the group that owned the operating rights to Major League Soccer club D.C. United when the league was founded in 1995, but the group lost these rights in 2000. On August 21, 2012, BBC reported SEC filings showing Soros acquired roughly a 1.9 percent stake in English football club Manchester United through the purchase of 3.1 million of the club's Class-A shares.
Soros was believed to have traded billions of Finnish markkas on February 5, 1996, in anticipation of selling them short. The markka had been put floating as a result of the early 1990s depression. The Bank of Finland and the Finnish Government commented at the time they believed that a "conspiracy" was impossible.
In 1997, during the Asian financial crisis, the prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, accused Soros of using the wealth under his control to punish the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for welcoming Myanmar as a member. With a history of antisemitic remarks, Mahathir made specific reference to Soros's Jewish background ("It is a Jew who triggered the currency plunge") and implied Soros was orchestrating the crash as part of a larger Jewish conspiracy. Nine years later, in 2006, Mahathir met with Soros and afterward stated that he accepted that Soros had not been responsible for the crisis. In 1998's The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered, Soros explained his role in the crisis as follows:
Some Soros-backed pro-democracy initiatives have been banned in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Ercis Kurtulus, head of the Social Transparency Movement Association (TSHD) in Turkey, said in an interview that "Soros carried out his will in Ukraine and Georgia by using these NGOs ... Last year Russia passed a special law prohibiting NGOs from taking money from foreigners. I think this should be banned in Turkey as well." In 1997, Soros closed his foundation in Belarus after it was fined $3 million by the government for "tax and currency violations." According to The New York Times, the Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has been widely criticized in the West and in Russia for his efforts to control the Belarus Soros Foundation and other independent NGOs and to suppress civil and human rights. Soros called the fines part of a campaign to "destroy independent society."
The financial crisis that originated in Thailand in 1997 was particularly unnerving because of its scope and severity ... By the beginning of 1997, it was clear to Soros Fund Management that the discrepancy between the trade account and the capital account was becoming untenable. We sold short the Thai baht and the Malaysian ringgit early in 1997 with maturities ranging from six months to a year. (That is, we entered into contracts to deliver at future dates Thai baht and Malaysian ringgit that we did not currently hold.) Subsequently, Prime Minister Mahathir of Malaysia accused me of causing the crisis, a wholly unfounded accusation. We were not sellers of the currency during or several months before the crisis; on the contrary, we were buyers when the currencies began to decline—we were purchasing ringgits to realize the profits on our earlier speculation. (Much too soon, as it turned out. We left most of the potential gain on the table because we were afraid that Mahathir would impose capital controls. He did so, but much later.)
Soros' son Alexander said in an interview that his father cares about Israel, and that he "would like to see Israel in Yitzhak Rabin's image. His views are more or less the common views in Meretz and in the Labor Party." According to Alexander, Soros supports a two-state solution. The younger Soros recounts that after his bar mitzvah in 1998, his father told him: "If you're serious about being Jewish, you might want to consider immigrating to Israel."
In 1999, economist Paul Krugman was critical of Soros's effect on financial markets.
According to National Review Online the Open Society Institute gave $20,000 in September 2002 to the Defense Committee of Lynne Stewart, the lawyer who has defended controversial, poor, and often unpopular defendants in court and was sentenced to 21/3 years in prison for "providing material support for a terrorist conspiracy" via a press conference for a client. An OSI spokeswoman said "it appeared to us at that time that there was a right-to-counsel issue worthy of our support" but claimed later requests for support were declined.
In 2003, former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker wrote in the foreword of Soros's book The Alchemy of Finance:
On November 11, 2003, in an interview with The Washington Post, Soros said that removing President George W. Bush from office was the "central focus of my life" and "a matter of life and death". He said he would sacrifice his entire fortune to defeat Bush "if someone guaranteed it". Soros gave $3 million to the Center for American Progress, $2.5 million to MoveOn.org, and $20 million to America Coming Together. These groups worked to support Democrats in the 2004 election. On September 28, 2004, he dedicated more money to the campaign and kicked off his own multistate tour with a speech, "Why We Must Not Re-elect President Bush", delivered at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The online transcript of this speech received many views after Dick Cheney accidentally referred to FactCheck.org as "factcheck.com" in the vice presidential debate, causing the owner of that domain to redirect all traffic to Soros's site.
In November 2005, Soros said: "My personal opinion is there's no alternative but to give Kosovo independence." Soros has helped fund the non-profit group called Independent Diplomat. It represented Kosovo, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (under military occupation by Turkey since 1974), Somaliland and the Polisario Front of Western Sahara.
In a discussion at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council in 2006, Alvin Shuster, former foreign editor of the Los Angeles Times, asked Soros, "How does one go from an immigrant to a financier? ... When did you realize that you knew how to make money?" Soros replied, "Well, I had a variety of jobs and I ended up selling fancy goods on the seaside, souvenir shops, and I thought, that's really not what I was cut out to do. So, I wrote to every managing director in every merchant bank in London, got just one or two replies, and eventually that's how I got a job in a merchant bank."
When Soros was asked in 2006 about his statement in The Age of Fallibility that "the main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States", he responded that "it happens to coincide with the prevailing opinion in the world. And I think that's rather shocking for Americans to hear. The United States sets the agenda for the world. And the rest of the world has to respond to that agenda. By declaring a 'war on terror' after September 11, we set the wrong agenda for the world ... When you wage war, you inevitably create innocent victims."
In September 2006, Soros pledged $50 million to the Millennium Promise, led by economist Jeffrey Sachs to provide educational, agricultural, and medical aid to help villages in Africa enduring poverty. The New York Times termed this endeavor a "departure" for Soros whose philanthropic focus had been on fostering democracy and good government, but Soros noted that most poverty resulted from bad governance.
Soros denied any wrongdoing, saying news of the takeover was public knowledge and it was documented that his intent to acquire shares of the company predated his own awareness of the takeover. In December 2006, he appealed to the European Court of Human Rights on various grounds, including that the 14-year delay in bringing the case to trial precluded a fair hearing. On the basis of Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights, stating that no person may be punished for an act that was not a criminal offense at the time that it was committed, the court agreed to hear the appeal. In October 2011, the court rejected his appeal in a 4–3 decision, saying that Soros had been aware of the risk of breaking insider trading laws.
Conservatives, meanwhile, picked up on the thread in the late 2000s, spearheaded by Fox News. Bill O'Reilly gave an almost ten-minute monologue on Soros in 2007, calling him an "extremist" and claiming he was "off-the-charts dangerous". Breitbart News, according to the London Times journalist, David Aaronovitch, in promoting East European nationalism, has regularly published articles blaming Soros for anything of which it disapproves.
Time magazine in 2007 cited two specific projects—$100 million toward Internet infrastructure for regional Russian universities, and $50 million for the Millennium Promise to eradicate extreme poverty in Africa—noting that Soros had given $742 million to projects in the U.S., and given away a total of more than $7 billion.
In 2008, Soros met Tamiko Bolton; they married September 21, 2013. Bolton is the daughter of a Japanese-American nurse and a retired naval commander, Robert Bolton. She was raised in California, earned an MBA from the University of Miami, and runs an Internet-based dietary supplement and vitamin-sales company.
In 2008, he was inducted into Institutional Investors Alpha's Hedge Fund Manager Hall of Fame along with Alfred Jones, Bruce Kovner, David Swensen, Jack Nash, James Simons, Julian Roberston, Kenneth Griffin, Leon Levy, Louis Bacon, Michael Steinhardt, Paul Tudor Jones, Seth Klarman and Steven A. Cohen.
Soros has funded worldwide efforts to promote drug policy reform. In 2008, Soros donated $400,000 to help fund a successful ballot measure in Massachusetts known as the Massachusetts Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative which decriminalized possession of less than 1 oz (28g) of marijuana in the state. Soros has also funded similar measures in California, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Nevada and Maine. Among the drug decriminalization groups that have received funding from Soros are the Lindesmith Center and Drug Policy Foundation. Soros donated $1.4 million to publicity efforts to support California's Proposition 5 in 2008, a failed ballot measure that would have expanded drug rehabilitation programs as alternatives to prison for persons convicted of non-violent drug-related offenses.
Soros's book The New Paradigm for Financial Markets (May 2008), described a "superbubble" that had built up over the past 25 years and was ready to collapse. This was the third in a series of books he has written that have predicted disaster. As he states:
Soros's older brother Paul Soros, a private investor and philanthropist, died on June 15, 2013. Also an engineer, Paul headed Soros Associates and established the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for Young Americans. He was married to Daisy Soros (née Schlenger), who, like her husband, was a Hungarian Jewish immigrant, and with whom he had two sons, Peter and Jeffrey. Peter Soros was married to the former Flora Fraser, a daughter of Lady Antonia Fraser and the late Sir Hugh Fraser and a stepdaughter of the late 2005 Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter. Fraser and Soros separated in 2009.
In February 2009, Soros said the world financial system had in effect disintegrated, adding that there was no prospect of a near-term resolution to the crisis. "We witnessed the collapse of the financial system ... It was placed on life support, and it's still on life support. There's no sign that we are anywhere near a bottom."
In June 2009, Soros donated $100 million to Central Europe and Eastern Europe to counter the impact of the economic crisis on the poor, voluntary groups and non-government organisations.
In August 2009, Soros donated $35 million to the state of New York to be earmarked for underprivileged children and given to parents who had benefit cards at the rate of $200 per child aged 3 through 17, with no limit as to the number of children that qualified. An additional $140 million was put into the fund by the state of New York from money they had received from the 2009 federal recovery act.
According to remarks in an interview in October 2009, it is Soros' opinion that marijuana is less addictive but not appropriate for use by children and students. He himself has not used marijuana for years. Soros has been a major financier of the Drug Policy Alliance – an organization that promotes cannabis legalization – with roughly $5 million in annual contributions from one of his foundations.
In reaction to the late-2000s recession, he founded the Institute for New Economic Thinking in October 2009. This is a think tank composed of international economic, business, and financial experts, who are mandated to investigate radical new approaches to organizing the international economic and financial system.
In October 2010, Soros donated $1 million to support California's Proposition 19.
In July 2011, Soros announced that he had returned funds from outside investors' money (valued at $1 billion) and instead invested funds from his $24.5 billion family fortune, due to changes in U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure rules, which he felt would compromise his duties of confidentiality to his investors. The fund had at that time averaged over 20% per year compound returns.
In October 2011, Soros drafted an open letter entitled "As concerned Europeans we urge Eurozone leaders to unite", in which he calls for a stronger economic government for Europe using federal means (Common EU treasury, common fiscal supervision, etc.) and warns against the danger of nationalistic solutions to the economic crisis. The letter was co-signed by Javier Solana, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Andrew Duff, Emma Bonino, Massimo D'Alema, and Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga.
In October 2011, a Reuters story, "Soros: Not a funder of Wall Street Protests," was published after several commentators pointed out errors in an earlier Reuters story headlined "Who's Behind the Wall St. Protests?" with a lede stating that the Occupy Wall Street movement "may have benefited indirectly from the largesse of one of the world's richest men [Soros]." Reuters's follow-up article also reported a Soros spokesman and Adbusters' co-founder Kalle Lasn both saying that Adbusters—the reputed catalyst for the first Occupy Wall Street protests—had never received any contributions from Soros, contrary to Reuters's earlier story that reported that "indirect financial links" existed between the two as late as 2010.
On September 27, 2012, Soros announced that he was donating $1 million to the super PAC backing President Barack Obama's reelection Priorities USA Action. In October 2013, Soros donated $25,000 to Ready for Hillary, becoming a co-chairman of the super PAC's national finance committee. In June 2015, he donated $1 million to the Super PAC Priorities USA Action, which supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. He donated $6 million to the PAC in December 2015 and $2.5 million in August 2016. Soros launched a new super PAC called Democracy PAC for the 2020 election cycle. By July 2019, he had donated $5.1 million to it.
In May 2014, Soros told CNN's Fareed Zakaria: "I set up a foundation in Ukraine before Ukraine became independent from Russia. And the foundation has been functioning ever since and played an important part in events now."
Soros criticized Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his handling of the European migrant crisis in 2015: "His plan treats the protection of national borders as the objective and the refugees as an obstacle. Our plan treats the protection of refugees as the objective and national borders as the obstacle."
The fund announced in 2015 that it would inject $300 million to help finance the expansion of Fen Hotels, an Argentine hotel company. The funds will develop 5,000 rooms over the next three years throughout various Latin American countries.
In January 2015, Soros called on the European Union to give $50 billion of bailout money to Ukraine.
In January 2015, Soros said that "Europe needs to wake up and recognize that it is under attack from Russia." He also urged Western countries to expand economic sanctions against Russia for its support of separatists in eastern Ukraine.
In July 2015, Soros stated that Putin's annexation of Crimea was a challenge to the "prevailing world order," specifically the European Union. He hypothesized that Putin wants to "destabilize all of Ukraine by precipitating a financial and political collapse for which he can disclaim responsibility, while avoiding occupation of a part of eastern Ukraine, which would then depend on Russia for economic support." In November 2015, Russia banned the Open Society Foundations (OSF) and the Open Society Institute (OSI)-- two pro-democracy charities founded by Soros—stating they posed a "threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation and the security of the state." In January 2016, 53 books related to Soros's "Renewal of Humanitarian Education" program were withdrawn at the Vorkuta Mining and Economic College in the Komi Republic, with 427 additional books seized for shredding. A Russian intergovernmental letter released in December 2015 stated that Soros's charities were "forming a perverted perception of history and making ideological directives, alien to Russian ideology, popular". Most of these books were published with funds donated by Soros's charities.
Soros has expressed concern about the growth of Chinese economic and political power, saying, "China has risen very rapidly by looking out for its own interests ... They have now got to accept responsibility for world order and the interests of other people as well." Regarding the political gridlock in America, he said, "Today, China has not only a more vigorous economy but actually a better functioning government than the United States." In July 2015, Soros stated that a "strategic partnership between the US and China could prevent the evolution of two power blocks that may be drawn into military conflict". In January 2016, during an interview at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Soros stated that "[a] hard landing is practically unavoidable". Chinese state media responded by stating "Soros' challenge to the RMB and Hong Kong dollar are doomed to fail, without any doubt."
When asked about what he thought about Israel, in The New Yorker, Soros replied: "I don't deny the Jews to a right to a national existence – but I don't want anything to do with it." According to hacked emails released in 2016, Soros's Open Society Foundation has a self-described objective of "challenging Israel's racist and anti-democratic policies" in international forums, in part by questioning Israel's reputation as a democracy. He has funded NGOs which have been actively critical of Israeli policies including groups that campaign for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
In January 2016, at an economic forum in Sri Lanka, Soros predicted a financial crisis akin to 2008 based on the state of the global currency, stock and commodity markets as well as the sinking Chinese yuan.
In 2017, Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz filed a $10 million lawsuit against Soros, alleging that Soros had influenced the government of Guinea to freeze Steinmetz's company BSG Resources out of iron ore mining contracts in the African country due to "long-standing animus toward the state of Israel". Steinmetz claims that Soros engaged in a "smear" campaign against him and his companies and blames Soros for scrutiny of him by American, Israeli, Swiss, and Guinean authorities. Soros called Steinmetz's suit "frivolous and entirely false" and said that it was "a desperate PR stunt meant to deflect attention from BSGR's mounting legal problems across multiple jurisdictions".
In 2017, Soros described Donald Trump as a con man, and predicted Trump would fail because he believed Trump's ideas were self-contradictory. Soros also said he believed Trump was preparing for a trade war and expected financial markets to do poorly.
Since 2016, Soros has been donating sums exceeding $1 million to the campaigns of progressive criminal justice reform proponents through the Safety and Justice PAC in local district attorney elections. In many districts, such large contributions were unprecedented and the campaigning stategy was "turned on its head" with a focus on incarceration, police misconduct and bail system, according to the Los Angeles Times. Larry Krasner was elected as the District Attorney of Philadelphia with the help of a $1.5 million ad campaign funded by Soros in 2017.
In January 2017, the "Stop Operation Soros" (SOS) initiative was launched in Macedonia. SOS seeks to present "questions and answers about the way Soros operates worldwide" and invites citizens to contribute to the research. In a press conference held during the same month, Nenad Mircevski, one of the founders of the initiative, stated that SOS would work towards the "de-Soros-ization" of Macedonia.
In March 2017, six US senators sent a letter to then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asking that he look into several grants the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have given to groups funded by "left-wing" Soros. According to the Heritage Foundation, the letter expressed specific concern about Soros' influence on Macedonian politics, a concern which has also been expressed by members of the conservative Macedonian government. In the same context, the conservative group Judicial Watch has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State and USAID compelling them to release records regarding $5 million transferred from USAID to Soros' Open Society branch in Macedonia. The suit alleges that the money was deliberately used to destabilize the Macedonian government. The Open Society Foundation has said its activities in Macedonia were aimed at ethnic reconciliation with the Albanian minority and other forms of assistance since the collapse of Yugoslavia.
In July 2017, Soros was elected an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy (HonFBA), the United Kingdom's national academy for the humanities and social sciences.
In July 2017, a Hungarian billboard campaign backed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, which was considered to be anti-semitic by the country's Jewish groups, vilified Soros as an enemy of the state, using the slogan "Let's not allow Soros to have the last laugh". The campaign was estimated to have cost 5.7bn forints (then US$21 million). According to the Israeli ambassador the campaign "evokes sad memories but also sows hatred and fear", a reference to Hungary's role in the deportation of 500,000 Jews during the Holocaust. Lydia Gall of Human Rights Watch asserted that it was reminiscent of Nazi posters during the Second World War featuring "'the laughing Jew'". Orbán and his government's representative said they had a "zero tolerance" of antisemitism, explaining the posters were aiming to persuade voters Soros was a "national security risk".
On October 17, 2017, it was announced that Soros had transferred $18 billion to the Open Society Foundations.
In 2018, Soros highlighted that Europe faces major challenges related to immigration, austerity, and nations leaving the EU. He holds that Europe is facing an existential crisis, in view of the rise of populism, the refugee crisis and a growing rift between Europe and the United States. Soros has also stated that "the euro has many unresolved problems" which "must not be allowed to destroy the European Union". He advocated replacing the notion of a multi-speed Europe by the aim of a "multi-track Europe" that would allow member states a wider variety of choices.
Soros' opposition to Brexit (in the United Kingdom) led to a front page on the British Conservative supporting newspaper, The Daily Telegraph in February 2018, which was accused of antisemitism for claiming he was involved in a supposed "secret plot" for the country's voters to reverse their decision to leave the European Union. While The Daily Telegraph did not mention Soros is Jewish, his opposition to Britain leaving the European Union had been reported elsewhere in less conspiratorial terms. Stephen Pollard, editor of The Jewish Chronicle, said on Twitter: "The point is that language matters so much and this is exactly the language being used by antisemites here and abroad". In October 2019, Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg accused Soros of being the "funder-in-chief" of the Remain campaign, and was subsequently accused of anti-Semitism by opposition MPs.
In October 2018, Soros was accused of funding a Central American migrant caravan heading toward America. The theory that Soros was somehow causing Central American migration at the southern US border apparently dates back to late March 2018, however. The October 2018 strain of the theory has been described to combine anti-semitism, anti-immigrant sentiment and "the specter of powerful foreign agents controlling major world events in pursuit of a hidden agenda", connecting Soros and other wealthy individuals of Jewish faith or background to the October caravan. Donald Trump was among those promoting the conspiracy theory. Both Cesar Sayoc, the perpetrator of the October 2018 attempted bombings of prominent Democrats, and Robert Bowers, the perpetrator of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, referred to this conspiracy theory on social media before their crimes.
On May 16, 2018, Soros' Open Society Foundations announced they would move its office from Budapest to Berlin, blaming the move on an "increasingly repressive" environment in Hungary.
A pipe bomb was placed in the mailbox at Soros's Katonah, New York home on October 22, 2018, as part of the October 2018 United States mail bombing attempts. The package was discovered by a caretaker, who removed it and notified authorities. It was photographed and exploded by the FBI, which launched an investigation. For several days afterward, similar bombs were mailed to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and other Democrats and liberals.
In October 2018, Soros donated $2 million to the Wikimedia Foundation via the Wikimedia Endowment program.
Soros has become a magnet for such theories, with opponents claiming that he is behind such diverse events as the 2017 Women's March, the fact-checking website Snopes, the gun-control activism engaged in by the survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the October 2018 immigrant caravans, and the protests against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. President Trump in a tweet also claimed Soros was backing the protests against Kavanaugh's nomination.
Soros is a supporter of progressive and liberal political causes, to which he dispenses donations through his foundation, the Open Society Foundations. Between 1979 and 2011, he donated more than $11 billion to various philanthropic causes; by 2017, his donations "on civil initiatives to reduce poverty and increase transparency, and on scholarships and universities around the world" totaled $12 billion. He influenced the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and provided one of Europe's largest higher education endowments to the Central European University in his Hungarian hometown. His extensive funding of political causes has made him a "bugaboo of European nationalists". The New York Times reported in October 2018 that "conspiracy theories about him have gone mainstream, to nearly every corner of the Republican Party". Numerous American conservatives have promoted false claims that characterize Soros as a singularly dangerous "puppet master" behind many alleged global plots. Conspiracy theories targeting Soros, who is of Jewish descent, have often been described as antisemitic.
On October 26, 2018, Cesar Sayoc was arrested in Aventura, Florida, on suspicion of mailing the bombs. In August 2019, Sayoc was sentenced to 20 years in prison for mailing 16 pipe bombs to 13 victims. None of the devices had exploded.
In November 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denounced Soros while speaking about Turkey's political purges, saying: "The person who financed terrorists during the Gezi incidents is already in prison. And who is behind him? The famous Hungarian Jew Soros. This is a man who assigns people to divide nations and shatter them."
In January 2019, Soros used his annual speech at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, to label Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and President of China, as the "most dangerous opponent of open societies", saying: "China is not the only authoritarian regime in the world but it is the wealthiest, strongest and technologically most advanced". He also urged the United States not to allow the Chinese technology companies Huawei and ZTE to dominate the 5G telecommunications market as this would present an "unacceptable security risk for the rest of the world". Soros also criticized the newest form of China's Big Brother-like system of mass surveillance called the Social Credit System, saying it would give Xi, "total control" over the people of China."
In April 2019, Soros was awarded the Ridenhour Prize for Courage. In his acceptance address Soros said: "In my native Hungary, the government of [Prime Minister] Viktor Orbán has turned me into the super villain of an alleged plot to destroy the supposed Christian identity of the Hungarian nation... [I] donate the prize money associated with this award to the Hungarian Spectrum, an online English-language publication that provides daily updates on Hungarian politics. It renders an important service by exposing to the world [in English] what Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is telling his own people [in Hungarian]. It [Hungarian Spectrum] deserves to be better known and supported."
In November 2019, attorney Joseph diGenova, who is known for promoting conspiracy theories about the Department of Justice and the FBI, asserted without evidence that Soros "controls a very large part of the career foreign service of the United States State Department" and "also controls the activities of FBI agents overseas who work for NGOs – work with NGOs. That was very evident in Ukraine."