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Soros' Opinions Given Too Much Weight: Opinion

George Soros is arguably the most famous first generation hedge fund manager in the world.

A quick search of the 80-year-old's name yields 2.5 million hits on Google. Julian Robertson, 78, yields 740,000 hits. Carl Icahn, 74, generates 400,000 hits. (If you want to characterize Warren Buffett as also a first- generation hedge fund manager, the 80-year-old wins the popularity contest with 3.6 million Google hits.)

Of the current set of modern hedge fund managers, only John Paulson yields more Google hits than Soros, with 2.6 million hits. Soros has about 10 times the number of hits as the man David Rosenberg calls the best money manager in the world: Paul Tudor Jones. David Einhorn has only 225,000 hits and Bill Ackman generates only 84,000 hits. Eddie Lampert, who was once declared the next Warren Buffett, has only 32,000 hits.

Of course, past performance -- and hits on Google -- by no means indicate future performance. Yet, these hits indicate how often the broader media pay attention to the views of these managers as a part of the public discourse on our financial markets.

Popularity of these managers is why CNBC and other media outlets pay so much attention to their 13-F filings, which disclose how their portfolios change each quarter. For example, earlier this week, we found out that John Paulson trimmed his Bank of America (BAC - Get Report) stake last quarter and sold his entire Goldman Sachs (GS - Get Report) stake. David Einhorn bought more Apple (AAPL - Get Report).

In a Wall Street Journal story yesterday, we also learned that Soros "reduced his direct ownership stake in the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD)" and he "reported no stake in Best Buy (BBY - Get Report)."

To the Journal's credit, it also referenced that it was Soros' hedge fund -- Soros Fund Management -- which made other moves. In one paragraph, the Journal uses Soros and his fund interchangeably: "The value of Mr. Soros's stockholdings was $6.7 billion at the end of the third quarter. The fund reported stockholdings worth $5.1 billion at the end of the second quarter."

However , in an hour long discussion with Reuters' Chrystia Freeland in September, where he discussed his macro views on gold, the U.S. deficit, and Europe's debt problems, Soros admitted during a Q&A session afterwards when asked about one of his fund's stock positions that he wasn't involved in the day-to-day decisions of the fund. Therefore, he couldn't discuss a specific stock.
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