Saturday, October 30, 2004

More On Market Manipulation for Political Purposes

Dan Gifford, a reader with significant experience in the news business, tells me that he saw these interesting items, as accurately quoted as could manage while watching TV. One was Alan Murray MSNBC reporter on October 29, 2004 at about 8:05 AM Pacific Time, on CNBC's "Morning Call":
The George Bush futures contracts have fallen tremendously today meaning that people believe Bush is losing ground in the election against John Kerry.
The next is from Donald Luskin, Trend Macro's Chief Investment Officer, October 29, 2004 at about 8:50 AM Pacific Time, also on on CNBC's "Morning Call":
The George Bush futures contracts are being manipulated. On several different occasions I have seen massive selling of the Bush futures come in that could not possibly have been for the purpose of making money. I think the person doing it or behind it is George Soros who has spent around 20 million that we know of so far to defeat Bush. [Soros' office told CNBC it is not responsible, according to CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera] .... Fair enough. Then if it is not Soros, then it is surrogate or at least someone who has read his book. Soros calls attacks of this sort the theory of reflexivity, which means that if you influence the perceptions of people by manipulating the theoretical reality within the financial markets, you influence the reality of real world events. In this case, the purpose would be to negatively affect the public perception that George Bush will win the presidency which may, in turn, adversely influence those planning to vote for Bush. This is exactly the tactic Soros has used in past to attack the Bank of England and other institutions and national currencies in order to change government policy.
Another reader points me to this article about Soros in FrontPage magazine:
Democrats looking to George Soros as a moral compass may want to check to see which direction the needle is pointing. The billionaire might actually be able to help them out on that count: In the mid-1990s he posited that there was “something both phony and pompous about a financial speculator inveighing against the moral crisis of our age.”


On September 16, 1992, Soros made his fund a cool billion dollars in a single day betting against the British sterling, helping to usher in what the Brits refer to as Black Wednesday. On that day, British citizens saw their currency lose 20 percent of its value. Trying to stave off the challenge to its currency, the British government had borrowed heavily before finally accepting defeat and allowing the devaluation of the pound. Soros was dubbed the Man Who Broke the Bank of England, a designation in which he seemed to take perverse pride.

Perhaps what is most interesting about the episode, considering Soros’ recent professions of moral outrage at the Bush economic plan, is his blasé attitude toward social mores in business. “If I abstain from certain actions because of moral scruples then I cease to be an effective speculator,” Soros told the London Guardian shortly after the incident. “I have not even a shadow of remorse for making a profit out of the devaluation of the pound.” Pushed further, Soros gave an example. “Let’s suppose speculation went on to push the franc,” he said. “That would be wrong and bad. But it wouldn’t stop me.”

Later on 60 Minutes, when asked whether he felt any complicity in the financial collapses in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan or Russia, Soros was similarly blunt. “I think I have been blamed for everything,” he said. “I am basically there to make money. I cannot and do not look at the social consequences of what I do.” A few minutes later, he reiterated the point in even stronger language. “I don’t feel guilty because I am engaged in an amoral activity which is not meant to have anything to do with guilt,” he said. Worse was Soros’ contention that, despite the fact that a single letter from him to the Financial Times recommending a 25 percent devaluation of the country’s currency sent Russia into an economic tailspin, “I am actually trying to do the right thing.”


Soros weeks later remained unrepentant about the havoc he’d wreaked, going so far as to explain how the “instability” he’d caused worked to his advantage:

“The net effect is a breakdown of the system, instability, and a negative effect on the economy, the size of which we don’t know, but it could be very, very serious. I mean, Europe is going to go into a very serve recession. Business is practically collapsing in Germany, also very bad in France. … Instability is always bad. It may be bad – it may be good for a few people like me who are instability analysts, but it’s really bad for the economy.” And when the economy suffers, society suffers too. How, then, does this sit with his claim of working to better the situation of each individual and the greater, “open” society.

More recently Soros has been very publicly betting against the dollar. In an interview with CNBC last May, Soros explained, “I now have a short position against the dollar … we continue to sell the U.S. dollar against the euro, the Canadian dollar, the New Zealand dollar and gold.” A real patriot, hell-bent on making cash off yet another market crash – ours. Could this be a part of the Democrats’ 2004 strategy? Journalist Richard Poe believes it could be:

“In view of the catastrophes Mr. Soros has inflicted on so many foreign lands, his sudden rise to prominence in U.S. politics deserves closer inspection,” Poe writes. “Bellicose charges of vote-rigging and calls for UN intervention such as we have heard lately from high-ranking Democrats fall strangely on American ears. Yet, for George Soros, such overheated rhetoric constitutes business as usual. The Democrat strategy taking shape in America this year strongly resembles a ‘velvet revolution’ in the making. Every piece of the puzzle has fallen into place. Only the exact time and nature of the final provocation – the signal for action – remains unknown.”

From a purely cold-hearted perspective, this all might be kosher. But now that Soros is a billionaire, his sudden pangs of conscience over the role of capitalism in the U.S. seem a bit too convenient and contrived to help foster the hero image he is so obviously attempting to create for himself. “I am not so optimistic about capitalism,“ he told Charlie Rose. “It is built on false foundations.” Then where, one wonders, did all of Soros’ cash come from? He claims he is no “neo-Marxist,” but his writings throughout the 1990s have certainly had that flavor. He has declared himself, for example, “at odds with the latter-day apostles of laissez faire” and, further, doubts the markets’ ability to allocate goods properly.


At one point in The Bubble of American Supremacy, Soros laments that “international income distribution is practically nonexistent.” Haughty words from a man with a bank account larger than the GNP of some Third World countries. If the rich getting richer pains Soros so, why not go ahead and stop accumulating massive amounts of money by raiding the treasuries of entire nations and making them poor?

“It is exactly because I have been successful in the marketplace that I can afford to advocate these values,” Soros said candidly in Soros on Soros. “I am the classic limousine liberal.”

Nevertheless, Soros blames capitalism for the coarsening of American culture. He apparently is the only one able to handle wealth properly. The rest of us savages couldn’t be trusted with his fortune:

“Unsure of what they stand for, people increasingly rely on money as the criterion of value,” Soros writes in The Capitalist Threat. “What is more expensive is considered better. The value of a work of art can be judged by the price it fetches. People deserve respect and admiration because they are rich. [Why does Soros think people respect him???] What used to be a medium of exchange has usurped the place of fundamental values, reversing the relationship postulated by economic theory. What used to be professions have turned into businesses. The cult of success has replaced a belief in principles. Society has lost its anchor.”

Tough talk for the man who also has boasted, “I cannot and do not look at the social consequences of what I do.” The word hypocrite doesn’t even begin to describe what Soros is involved in here. Schizophrenia may come closer.
Does anyone find it at all worrisome that this guy has the billions and the financial connections to manipulate commodity markets, and has expressed a willingness to spend it all to defeat George Bush--and now oil prices are at incomprehensible prices, having damaged the economy just before the election?

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