NEW YORK (
) -- Analysts continue to remain split on a number of issues regarding the future of the global economy. Amid the confusion, a number of big names in the world of finance have shared their two cents on the issue.
On Monday from Istanbul, George Soros said the U.S. should be prepared for a long, slow recovery, with Americans weighed down with debt and the banking system struggling.
Soros' forecast is not one to be taken lightly. This world famous hedge fund manager and philanthropist made a name for himself by successfully acting on a number of bold predictions. Today, Soros is listed as the 29th richest man in the world.
Soros was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1930. His father, Tivadar Schwartz, took the name Soros after fleeing Russia as a prisoner of war during World War I. It was in Hungary, at the age of 15, that Soros began trading currencies.
In 1947, Soros emigrated to England. He graduated from the London School of Economics in 1952. Four years later, he moved to New York City, where he worked for a number of different companies and expanded his knowledge of the financial markets. In 1963, he landed a position as vice president with Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder.
At Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder, Soros and fellow financier Jim Rogers organized an offshore hedge fund that would, in 1973, become known as the Quantum Fund. The success of this fund is the source of most of his wealth. The Quantum Group of Funds is run by Soros' company, Soros Fund Management.
Today, companies such as
Och Ziff Capital Management Group
Fortress Investment Group
have developed a strong footing in the hedge fund industry.
However, few can compare to the success and longevity of Soros' Quantum Fund. Located in two small island nations, this privately held hedge fund provided its unnamed investors over 30% returns from 1970 to 2000.
Although the stellar performance of the Quantum fund earned him a comfortable profit, he cemented his place alongside notables like Warren Buffett and Peter Lynch on Sept. 16, 1992. Now known throughout England as "Black Wednesday," the Quantum Fund and its founder not only gained a huge profit, but, along with other currency speculators, "broke the Bank of England."
Before Black Wednesday, England was a part of a fixed-rate system known as the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. Being a part of this system caused the value of the British pound to stay at an unsustainable, artificially high level.
Soros, seeing the strong chance that the nation's central bank would have to break away, began to heavily short the pound with funds from Quantum. Eventually, as predicted by the trader, the government was unable to keep their rates above the system's lower limit and they were forced to withdraw and float their currency. The pound responded by sharply devaluing. Soros cashed in on his shorts and earned over $1 billion in profit in a single day.
The actions taken towards the Bank of England is just one example of Soros' daring personality. Throughout his life he has made his presence felt in financial, political and philanthropic matters.
During the 2004 U.S. presidential election, Soros famously invested millions of dollars of his own money into efforts to oust George W. Bush. The financier went as far to claim that getting him out of the White House had become the central focus of his life.
Soros has also dedicated a considerable amount of his life and wealth to philanthropic efforts. Since he first studied the idea of an open society at the London School of Economics, he has worked to promote the theory across the globe.
In order to advance this political ideology, Soros created the Open Society Institute in 1993. Today, according to the Open Society Institute's Website, Soros' philanthropic organizations stretch across the globe to include more than 60 nations from the Middle East, Africa and former Asia.
Although often controversial, the work of Soros has been instrumental in shaping the financial environment we live in today. However, as shown by his philanthropic efforts, his influence can also be felt far beyond the reaches of Wall Street.
-- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.
At the time of publication, Dion did not hold positions in any of the stocks mentioned.
Don Dion is president and founder of
, a fee-based investment advisory firm to affluent individuals, families and nonprofit organizations, where he is responsible for setting investment policy, creating custom portfolios and overseeing the performance of client accounts. Founded in 1996 and based in Williamstown, Mass., Dion Money Management manages assets for clients in 49 states and 11 countries. Dion is a licensed attorney in Massachusetts and Maine and has more than 25 years' experience working in the financial markets, having founded and run two publicly traded companies before establishing Dion Money Management.
Dion also is publisher of the Fidelity Independent Adviser family of newsletters, which provides to a broad range of investors his commentary on the financial markets, with a specific emphasis on mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. With more than 100,000 subscribers in the U.S. and 29 other countries, Fidelity Independent Adviser publishes six monthly newsletters and three weekly newsletters. Its flagship publication, Fidelity Independent Adviser, has been published monthly for 11 years and reaches 40,000 subscribers.