The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a heartbreaking and crippling challenge to health services around the world. Its impact on the global economy has been equally catastrophic, as governments have been forced into imposing strict lockdown measures. As economists face a generation-defining challenge on what to do next, all around the world focus is beginning to shift towards finance ministers – like Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the UK – rather than health ministers such as Matt Hancock.
But a warning from Mr Soros – the famed financier and philanthropist who was once credited with ‘breaking the pound’ – appears worryingly relevant today.
Speaking to Newsweek in 2012, the billionaire warned of economic collapse and riots on the streets in light of the eurozone crisis of the time.
Having bought $2billion (£1.6billion) in European bonds, he said: “The euro must survive because the alternative – a breakup – would cause a meltdown that Europe, the world, can’t afford.
“The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world.”
George Soros’ analysis is horrifyingly appropriate today
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His warnings came as US stocks plummeted amid talks intended to resolve Greece’s debt crisis faltered.
Mr Soros added: “The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment.
“The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.”
The now 89-year-old also compared the crisis to the fall of the Soviet Union in the early Nineties, claiming a euro collapse could “revive the political conflicts that have torn Europe apart over the centuries”.
George Soros made a name for himself as ‘the man who broke the pound’ in 1992
His fears appear just as relevant today as they did in 2012, as EU member states have been embroiled in a bitter row over how to split up the financial costs of the pandemic.
Italy, for example, has consistently argued for more help from its European partners, as the current crisis was impossible to predict.
While Germany and the Netherlands are opposed to the idea as they fear the political implications of having their taxpayers foot the bill for other nations.
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These divisions have opened up old wounds from the 2008 financial crisis.
And former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis believes he can explain why – because the wounds never healed in the first place, they were merely hidden from view.
In a video posted on his YouTube channel DiEM25 earlier this year, he said: “Don’t let anyone tell you the 2008 crisis ended and that now you have a new one.
“That crisis never ended. It just moved in different forms, travelled from one continent to another.
“But nevertheless it has always been with us.
“The world never went back to some kind of equilibrium after 2008.
“What coronavirus has done, it has deepened and accelerated this never-ending non-stop crisis that began in 2008.”
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Mr Varoufakis also shed light on why he thinks the world was presented with the illusion of a recovery after 2011.
He added: “They printed trillions and trillions of notes and threw them at the 0.1 percent at corporations that were already full of money. For example, Apple, Google and so on.
“They boosted inequality massively and stabilised financial markets. But at the same time, they depleted all serious investments in good quality jobs in labour, health, education.
“This is why there has been so much discontent even before COVID-19 arrived on the scene.
“When coronavirus arrived on the scene it found a global capitalism that was sitting on a gigantic bubble of private debt that had been minted by central banks on behalf of financial capital.
“COVID-19 has pricked the bubble on which financial capitalism was sitting up until now.
“So even if the financial markets are eroded once more, the level of investment is going to be even lower than it was.”
Mr Soros, based in Manhattan, New York, is known to make his money on long-term solid share choices and avoids investing in gold.
His story is a remarkable one. As a young boy who escaped the Holocaust in Hungary, he is now one of the world’s most influential men.
Published at Sat, 09 May 2020 16:33:00 +0000