George Soros is one of the most influential people in the world, behind many significant movements and organizations. This Hungarian businessman is infamous for his outspoken views and toying with financial markets. He’s even changed the course of some countries’ national histories (including the British. No hard feelings, eh?) with various trades.
While he was born a long time ago, it was only in the 1980s he really began making waves. During this time, he consolidated his financial power and made some bets in the markets that won big!
Early Life and the Escape from Hungary
George Soros’s childhood played a big role in his character development. In the decade leading up to World War II, Soros was born on August 12th, 1930 in Budapest, Hungary, to a Jewish family. Things were so bad that his father had to change their name from Schwartz to Soros to avoid the anti-Semitism that was rampant at the time.
His father, Tivadar, was a lawyer and a writer who loved Esperanto, a then-recently-invented universal language designed to be easier to learn and speak than other languages.
Unfortunately, Soros witnessed many of the horrors of WWII while he was young. What he saw shaped his views on human nature and the world, which would stay with him.
After the war, Soros moved away from his homeland of Hungary in 1947 and went to England. He became a real prodigy, studying at one of the country’s top universities: the London School of Economics.
While he was there, he became interested in the philosopher of science, Karl Popper. Popper claimed that absolute truth was impossible, even in a scientific sense. The young Soros took this to heart, using the insight to argue against societies and social movements claiming the ultimate truth. It would become an idea that stuck with him for decades to come.
Soros’s Rise to Fame and Fortune
Soros’s early career was not at all remarkable. In fact, it was quite dull! He began his employment as a clerk in a merchant bank in London. He then went to New York in 1956 to work as an analyst and trader.
Eventually, though, he learned the tricks of the trade and began to experiment. He set up his first hedge fund around 1970 and then continued to refine his investing principles.
Over time, he became well known for his contrarian money-making strategies. The UK felt the full force of his tactics when he bid against the British pound in 1992, earning him the nickname “the name who broke the Bank of England.”
Soros’s Philanthropy and Activism
Despite his love of money, Soros gives generously. The billionaire has famously donated a vast swathe of his enormous fortune to various causes around the world, including his Open Society Foundations.
At the heart of everything he does is a desire to improve human rights. He wants an open, free world, and he’s prepared to use his money to get it.