George Soros is chairman of Soros Fund Management and is the founder of a global network of foundations dedicated to sup- porting open societies. He is the author of several best-selling books, including The Bubble of American Supremacy, Underwriting Democracy, and The Age of Fallibility. He was born in Budapest and lives in New York City.
PublicAffairs is a publishing house founded in 1997. It is a tribute to the standards, values, and flair of three persons who have served as mentors to countless reporters, writers, editors, and book people of all kinds, including me. I. F. Stone, proprietor of I. F. Stone’s Weekly, combined a commitment to the First Amendment with entrepreneurial zeal and reporting skill and became one of the great independent journalists in American history. At the age of eighty, Izzy published The Trial of Socrates, which was a national bestseller. He wrote the book after he taught himself ancient Greek. Benjamin C. Bradlee was for nearly thirty years the charismatic editorial leader of The Washington Post. It was Ben who gave the Post the range and courage to pursue such historic issues as Watergate. He supported his reporters with a tenacity that made them fearless, and it is no accident that so many became authors of influential, best-selling books. Robert L. Bernstein, the chief executive of Random House for more than a quarter century, guided one of the nation’s premier publishing houses. Bob was personally responsible for many books of political dissent and argument that challenged tyranny around the globe. He is also the founder and was the longtime chair of Human Rights Watch, one of the most respected human rights organizations in the world. ... For fifty years, the banner of Public Affairs Press was carried by its owner Morris B. Schnapper, who published Gandhi, Nasser, Toynbee, Truman, and about 1,500 other authors. In 1983 Schnapper was described by The Washington Post as “a redoubtable gadfly.” His legacy will endure in the books to come. We are in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. In some ways it resembles other crises that have occurred in the last twenty-five years, but there is a profound difference: the current crisis marks the end of an era of credit expansion based on the dollar as the international reserve currency. The periodic crises were part of a larger boom- bust process; the current crisis is the culmination of a super-boom that has lasted for more than twenty-five years. To understand what is going on we need a new paradigm. The currently prevailing paradigm, namely that financial markets tend towards equilibrium, is both false and misleading; our current troubles can be largely attributed to the fact that the international financial system has been developed on the basis of that paradigm. When I became a market participant, I applied my conceptual framework to the financial markets. It allowed me to gain a better understanding of initially self-reinforcing but eventually self-defeating boom-bust processes, and I put that insight to good use as the manager of a hedge fund. I ex- pounded the theory of reflexivity in my first book, The Alchemy of Finance, which was published in 1987. The book acquired a cult following, but the theory of reflexivity was not taken seriously in academic circles. I myself harbored grave doubts about whether I was saying something new and significant. After all, I was dealing with one of the most basic and most thoroughly studied problems of philosophy, and everything that could be said on the subject had probably already been said. Nevertheless, my conceptual framework remained something very important for me personally. It guided me both in making money as a hedge fund manager and in spending it as a philanthropist, and it became an integral part of my identity.