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Friday, May 24, 2013

George Soros : Success could lead to a positive resolution of the Euro Crisis.

 QUESTION: The lack of access to credit on equal terms creates an uneven playing field. This is a handicap for different countries and makes it more difficult for them to regain competitiveness. What should be done?

SOROS: It is important to recognize that this disadvantage consists of two components. One is the cost of borrowing by the government, and the other is the cost of borrowing by the private sector. Recently, since the Cyprus rescue, the private sector’s disadvantage, particularly for small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), increased to crisis proportions. Fortunately, the authorities recognize this. The European Central Bank is discussing the possibility of using its resources to help resolve this problem. And it is very, very important what they come up with. I am hopeful that they will produce a scheme that could make a difference. If you could package the loans to SMEs and refinance them at the ECB on equal terms, that would mean that enterprises south of the Alps would be able to borrow on more or less equal terms with enterprises north of the Alps. That would be a game-changer.
I am sure that this will be resisted on legal grounds. I am not in a position to follow the battle within the ECB from the outside, but what the outcome will have a major influence on the future course of events.

It should not escape your attention that if the ECB succeeded in making credit available on equal terms, it would effectively mean a large-scale mutualization of rather risky debts. Once that happened, it would make sense to mutualize government debts as well. Guarantees have a peculiar feature: the more comprehensive and convincing they are, the less likely they are to be invoked and to result in losses. So the securitization of SME loans could be an indirect route to Eurobonds. It would certainly be a step in that direction. That is why it is bound to be resisted. But success could lead to a positive resolution of the euro crisis.

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George Soros was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1930. His father was taken prisoner during World War I and eventually fled from captivity in Russia to reunite with his family in Budapest. Soros was thirteen years old when Hitler's Wehrmacht seized Hungary and began deporting the country's Jews to extermination camps. In 1946, as the Soviet Union was taking control of the country, Soros attended a conference in the West and defected. He emigrated in 1947 to England, supported himself by working as a railroad porter and a restaurant waiter, graduated in 1952 from the London School of Economics, and obtained an entry-level position with an investment bank.

In 1956, Soros immigrated to the United States, working as a trader and analyst until 1963. During that time, he developed his own theory of markets called 'reflexivity', which he has laid out in his recent books THE ALCHEMY OF FINANCE and THE CREDIT CRISIS OF 2008 AND WHAT IT MEANS. In 1967 he helped establish an offshore investment fund; and in 1973 he set up a private investment firm that eventually evolved into the Quantum Fund, one of the first hedge funds, through which he accumulated a vast fortune.