Like many obscenely wealthy people, he likes to style himself – and no doubt think of himself – as a philanthropist. But you can’t rise from rags to riches without stepping on a few toes, and probably a few fingers too.
Soros is still known as “the man who broke the Bank of England” after making a billion out of the UK’s Black Wednesday crisis of 1992.
All in all, then, not the kind of fellow you might expect me to quote with approval.
But whatever the moral rights and wrongs of his business dealings, someone with his track record must know a thing or two about international trade. And some of the things he said at last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland bear thinking about.
It may be that he is not entirely impartial on the subject of Donald Trump. It was reported that Trump’s election victory cost Soros $1bn in lost investments. So perhaps it’s no surprise that he calls the new US President “an imposter and con man” and speaks of him “awakening dark forces”.
But he’s put a small slice at least of his money where his mouth is. In the fortnight after the election, he put $10million into a fund to combat the rise in hate crime.
And he said in Davos: “I personally am convinced that Trump is going to fail. Not because of people like me who would like him to fail, but because the ideas that guide him are inherently self-contradictory.”
If Soros is right, this is not necessarily good news. Because the way he expects Trump to fail is by starting a global trade war in which everyone will be losers.
He isn’t always right, of course. As he told the Wall Street Journal in 2008: “I’m only rich because I know when I’m wrong.”
But he’s been spectacularly right in the past about Britain. So it may be worth noting what he says about us now:
“In my opinion it is unlikely that Prime Minister May is actually going to remain in power. Already she has a very divided cabinet, a very small majority in Parliament. And I think she will not last.”
And of Brexit?
“At the moment the people in the UK are in denial. The current economic situation is not as bad as was predicted and they live in hope.”
Those hopes, says Soros, will sour before the divorce from Europe is complete – which will “take a very long time”.
And the closer we get to the decree absolute, the worse shape the UK economy will be in, and the poorer we will all be. To the point where before we’ve actually left, we’ll be begging Europe to take us back.
He even suggests that three days after finally quitting the EU, we could be back in.
“It’s much harder to divorce than to get married… You could have a situation in 2019 or 2020 when Britain will leave the EU – because it does have to take place – but they could leave on a Friday but join over the weekend and have the new arrangement in place on Monday morning.”
Believe it or not (and I’m not sure I do), it’s an interesting scenario.
Strange how TV seems to be invading real life, and vice-versa. Reality blurring hopelessly with fantasy.
Thirty-six years after America put a second-rate B-movie actor in the White House, it’s gone the whole surreal hog by installing a third-rate gameshow host there.
I’m still hoping I wake up and find the past year has been nothing but a dream foisted on us all by one dysfunctional character, like the ninth season of Dallas. It’d all be so much more entertaining if you knew there would be no dire consequences for the real world.
Meanwhile, back in the disunited kingdom, one of my friends announced last week that she was going to be on The Undateables. I don’t know how she, or Channel 4, think she qualifies, but I guess that’s up to them.
The next day another friend alerted me that his old house was featuring on Location, Location, Location.
Do such things come in threes? Perhaps this should be my moment to apply for a spot on Mastermind or Only Connect. Or would that be Pointless?