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The following article appeared in Left Business Observer #88, February 1999. It retains its copyright and may not be reprinted or redistributed in any form - print, electronic, facsimile, anything - without the permission of LBO. Please note: if you click on any of the book links, you'll be taken to Amazon.com; if you consummate the transaction, LBO will get a small commission.

Let George do it


George Soros, The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered, New York: Public Affairs, $26.00.

Rich people can get away with publishing books on just about anything. Here's one from a multibillionaire who made his fortune speculating in global capital markets who now thinks that those markets are a threat to all that's sacred. "To put the matter simply," he writes, "market forces, if they are given complete authority even in the purely economic and financial arena, produce chaos and could ultimately lead to the downfall of the global capitalist system" -- a process that may be underway already.

But this is no short-and-tell confessional. Soros tells us little of his life as one of history's most successful (and secretive) speculators, and as a pioneer of the world he now condemns. He invested across borders back in the 1950s and 1960s, when almost no one else did; he had an offshore hedge fund when many of today's hotshots were on tricycles. But he assures us that his life at the trading desk -- "I am a creature of the market" -- has little to do with the economic turmoil he bemoans. He had nothing to do with crashing Thailand and Malaysia in the summer of 1997 -- no, he bet against their currencies early in the year, well before the crisis hit!

Rather than telling all, Soros shares hi