George Soros: an investor rooted in philosophy

George Soros was born in Hungary in 1930. Growing up during the era of the rise of Nazism, his family, Jewish by ancestry, endured a great deal of anti-Semitism and terror in their native land. Soros’ father had the foresight to extract as family from Hungary prior to the Nazi invasion. However, many of his relatives were not so lucky. Soros had aunts and uncles who would ultimately perish in the Nazi death camps. This had a profound impact on the intellectual development of the young Soros. It instilled in him a deep desire to understand the root causes of fascistic governments and how to prevent their rise.

While in high school, Soros was an excellent student who got mostly A’s. He applied to and was eventually accepted at Oxford University, where he studied under famed philosophy professor Karl Popper. Hopper was a world-renowned philosopher who was most famous for his seminal book on the organization of society called the open society and its enemies. This book would have a lifelong effect on Soros and would serve as an intellectual guide for his later work on the functioning of markets. George Soros established the Open Society Foundations.

After studying for a period of five years, Soros graduated with a master’s degree in philosophy. He originally set out to get a job as an academic, perhaps as a professor or even as an adjunct. At the time, professorships where is short supply. Soros ultimately ended up working a string of menial jobs in which he found little reward. These included a brief stint as a traveling salesman as well as working a variety of clerkships in stores.

After working odd jobs for about half a decade, Soros had enough. At the insistence of an old college friend, he applied to a Wall Street trading firm. He was surprised to be hired so quickly. It is interesting to note that it was only through chance that Soros ended up working on Wall Street at all. This makes him quite unique among his plutocratic peers because it seems that he was never driven primarily by a lust for money. While most people who ended up on the Forbes 400 list knew from a very young age they would be dedicating their lives to the accumulation of wealth, Soros had no such intention, even in his into his late twenties.

While on Wall Street, Soros word for a series of trading forums. Those who knew him during this period described him as being somewhat introverted and not entirely engaged with the daily task set before him by his job. Instead, George Soros was mostly interested in the expounding of his own philosophical ideas on the functioning of markets. Read this story at Politico.com about George Soros.

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