Tag Archives: times

Book Review of ‘George Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire’

Book Review of ‘George Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire’

George Soros (Trades, Portfolio) needs no introduction. This man is complex, however. Even though I have read all of the books Soros has written himself, I was surprised to still learn quite a lot about this fascinating man in Michael T. Kaufman’s biography.

If you have read any of the books Soros wrote himself, you will be aware that Soros, who is Jewish, survived Nazi-occupied Hungary‎ in World War II thanks to the actions of his father and then went to study economics and philosophy at the London School of Economics after the war. Kaufman goes into great detail about Soros’ upbringing.

Survival

As soon as Soros’s father realized the situation, he declared to his family:

“All the normal rules are suspended. This is an emergency. If we remain law-abiding citizens and continue our current existence, we are going to perish.”

This of course was a correct call and almost certainly saved the family. Experiencing this extreme situation no doubt was a good preparation for a later career in leveraged trading, as

Stanley Druckenmiller (Trades, Portfolio) later pointed out. Various details of this wartime period are interesting just from a pure historical point of view. It is fair to say the difficult environment toughened up a young Soros given the risks he and his family were taking living under false identities. Later on, we learn from one of Soros’ sons that the guru was obsessed with the importance of survival.
Soros was indeed always a competitive person thanks to the rivalry with his older brother, and sports was an important part of this. Immediately after the war ended, a teenaged Soros was asked by his father to trade some jewelery and currency on the black market. We learn that this activity gave Soros an introduction to markets along with some street smarts.

After Soros ‎moved to London, he found it difficult to fit in. He was, for all intents and purposes, a loner. This gave him time to read the works of Adam Smith, Hobbes, Ricardo, Bergson and Machiavelli, as well as Karl Popper, whose ideas on Open Society were very influential on Soros. As Time magazine noted:

“It was from Popper that Soros gained his personal philosophy of reflexivity. It boils down to the sensible if not entirely original idea that people always act on the basis of imperfect knowledge of understanding; that while they may seek the truth – in the financial markets, law or everyday life – they will never quite reach it, because the very act of looking distorts the picture. He says he has used this theory “to turn the disparate elements of my existence into a coherent whole.”

Doers

Soros moved to Wall Street and for a few years was effectively an analyst, broker and fund manager all at the same time. Regulatory changes meant this was unsustainable, Soros took a young Jim Rogers and some clients and spanned out the fund he was managing within the brokerage house. While others disliked Rogers due to a perceived arrogance in the young analyst, Soros appreciated his work ethic. Indeed, we learn from the book that Soros always looked to work with what he called “Doers.”

Rogers and Soros shunned Wall Street. Their New York office was not in Manhattan, and they came up with their own trade ideas, with Rogers reading mountains of trade journals for intel. Rogers apparently thought the Street was always wrong and that he and Soros were always right. Soros thought that both the Street and they were at any time fallible. Soros’ attitude was to invest first and investigate later as he sought to jump into trends early. Since Soros wanted to grow, he wanted Rogers to train new analysts, but Rogers apparently did not want to, which led to tension and eventually their split.

Although the details of Soros’ early career and the relationship with Rogers was interesting, apart from the famous sterling trade against the Bank of England, which is described in great detail, there is not much meat on other great trades Soros has executed. Although, to be fair, the section on how Soros reacted to the 1987 crash was insightful. His background in ‎survival influenced his decision to take huge losses on the day of the crash, even getting out of positions at worse than market rates for the sole purpose of ensuring a proper derisking and survival to fight another day.

Human nature being what it is, prospect theory in behavioral psychology shows most people prefer to gamble with losses and collect winnings early. Doing this with the leverage Soros has going into the 1987 crash could have wiped out his firm. Instead, his focus was survival at any cost. That gave Soros Fund Management the dry powder to trade after the crash and recover losses to end the year higher. I am sure most people would assume Soros being such a guru would have made money in the crash, but it was not the case.

The world’s best fund manager and stateless statesman

Although Soros was known within the industry thanks to Institutional Investor calling him the world’s best fund manager and due to his book, “The Alchemy of Finance,” the geopolitical elites had constantly ignored Soros until the Bank of England trade and a London Times interview with Anatole Kaletsky helped propel his status in the geopolitical sphere, where Soros longed to be influential. Having long tried to keep a low profile as a fund manager, Soros decided to raise his profile in the media as he turned his attention increasingly to philanthropist activities and a role as a “stateless statesman.”

Soros was never a very good manager, but he recognized this and hired a fellow named Gary Gladstein to look after the operational side of Soros Fund Management, and it was Gladstein who described Soros’ skills as a fund manager and his ability to visualize the entire world’s money and credit flows:

“He has this macro vision of the entire world. He consumes all this information, digests it all, and from there he can come out with his opinion as to how this is all going to be sorted out. What the impact will be on the dollar or other currencies, the interest rate markets. He’ll look at charts, but most of the information he’s processing is verbal, not statistical.”

It was also mentioned in the book that Soros was excellent at compartmentalizing the different roles he was playing in his life. One wonders, though, if his activity in “activist philanthropy” was an important part of the “verbal” information he was processing on world affairs, given his hands-on approach in many of the emerging markets where he was active with his foundations.

Soros has been a global philanthropist, but much of his early efforts were spent opposing communism in Central and Eastern Europe. He funded dissidents and actually spent plenty of time with them, preferring their company to that of Wall Streeters and tycoon businessmen. Again, reading the book one really wonders if this access to on-the-ground geopolitical intel was an advantage to Soros on the investment side of things, but for the longest period he tried not to invest in countries where he had his foundations operating.

Risk

Soros the philanthropist was also a risk-taker. A man named Fred Cuny, whom he employed after a hugely successful project in war-torn Sarajevo, was then killed in war-torn Chechnya. Although it seems that Soros was not to blame here, it was an example of how Soros always pushed the envelope in his activities. This section was compelling reading, purely for its historical insight.

Conclusion

‎Overall, for those interested in Soros the investment guru, then “The Alchemy of Finance” or “Soros on Soros” are better reads, or just the two chapters on Soros in the excellent “More Money Than God.” However, for those interested in Soros the complex individual, who simply speaking has lived quite an amazing life, this book gives a lot more color and historical context and is an easy and fascinating read.

Read more
This post originally posted here The European Times News

AZ jab: People may be three times more likely to get Covid symptoms than Pfizer’s – study

AZ jab: People may be three times more likely to get Covid symptoms than Pfizer's - study

The UK is hurtling towards July 19, when England will be released from all remaining coronavirus restrictions. What was expected to be a moment of jubilation for the nation has been met with increasing apprehension. New SAGE figures are bound to amplify that anxiety. According to data published by the body of experts, those double-jabbed with the AstraZeneca vaccine may be three times more likely to get symptoms of the virus than those who got Pfizer and Moderna.

Further complicating the picture is a new study published in the journal Nature.

The study suggests the jab could confer lifelong protection against COVID-19.

In addition to vigorously generating virus-eliminating antibodies, the vaccine also creates “training camps” in the body for search-and-destroy T-cells which can kill even new variants, the study found.

It means the body can continue making these vital cells long after the antibodies have waned – as possibly for the rest of your life.

Scientists from Oxford and Switzerland, writing in journal Nature, said T-cell protection is a “key feature” of adenovirus vaccines like the AZ and J&J jabs.

Researcher Professor Burkhard Ludewig, of Cantonal Hospital in Switzerland, said: “The T-cells that come from these cellular training camps appear to have a very high level of ‘fitness’.

“Adenoviruses have co-evolved with humans over a very long time, and learned a lot about the human immune system in the process.

“Viruses are always the best teachers, and here they have taught us an important lesson about how best to boost killer T-cell responses.

Prof Burkhard added: “Hopefully we can put this to good use in designing new vaccines targeting other diseases like TB, HIV, hepatitis C and cancer.”

The researchers also found adenoviruses are able to get into long-lived tissue cells, known as fibroblastic reticular cells, which act as “training grounds” for T-cells.

The latest research echoes previous studies, which have shown the AZ jab is more effective at generating T-cells than mRNA vaccines like the Pfizer and Moderna ones.

Prof Paul Klenerman, of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Medicine, said: “Millions of people have received adenovirus vaccines around the world.

The ultimate goal with these vaccines is the induction of long-term immune system protection using both antibodies and T-cells.

“This research helps us to understand more on the process of vaccination, and why the effects on killer T-cells are so prolonged.”

Read more
This post originally posted here Daily Express :: Life and Style
Read More

TIMES OF RISE AND DECLINE OF RELIGION AND MORALITY (2)

TIMES OF RISE AND DECLINE OF RELIGION AND MORALITY (2)

In the first volume of the magazine Strannik in 1901 appeared an extensive article by B. Titlinov devoted to the decline of religion and morality, a phenomenon we observe today – the beginning of the 21st century of the third millennium.

In the subsequent historical course, before us appears the chosen people of God – Israel. Although he was not destined to play a significant historical role, although he was one of the smallest peoples in Asia, but in religious terms, he had such an influence on all later centuries that the history of his religious life could not be silent. Despite Israel’s highly developed religious consciousness, the fluctuation of its religious sentiment cannot be ignored. Indeed, there was no room for skepticism or disbelief in the people of Israel; but his whole life is a story of turning away from Jehovah and returning to Him. And these retreats and returns testify to the decline, or rise, of religious inclinations. It is remarkable that what was observed in the later stages of human life can be seen in this case. The successes of external material life, external prosperity coincide with religious decline. Suffice it to recall the period of the judges. External enemies are defeated, peace comes to the country. Jehovah is forgotten and incense is burned before pagan deities. When troubles from the neighboring nations came and Israel groaned under the yoke of slavery, the priests again gathered at the altar, again Israel flocked to the sanctuary to pray for help and deliverance. A particularly strong rise in religious life took place after the Babylonian captivity. Foreign domination and the destruction of Jerusalem seemed to shatter all the national expectations of the Jewish people, and in this predicament, religion was the only consolation. On the banks of the mighty Euphrates, far from home, the full force of religious feeling awoke in the Jews. The people lived with him in the subsequent period of their existence.

The first crisis in the religious life of historical humanity, which deserves serious attention, dates back to the last centuries of the pre-Christian era. This is an age that is unparalleled in later centuries. Even when there were periods of declining religion and a weakening of religious sentiment, the anti-religious movement never deeply affected the masses themselves, but rather attracted, for the most part, the upper classes. We should not consider this phenomenon as sudden, unrelated to the previous course of development. On the contrary, it has been prepared for centuries, and in recent times before Christmas, religious skepticism has manifested itself with particular force. Its origin can be traced to Greece, five centuries before our era, and only by tracing it to this source is it possible to understand the state of the world in the period under consideration. Greece, as is well known, is the birthplace of philosophy and science. Here, first after India, philosophical thought awoke. To Greece the world owes the grandiose creations of reason, the most beautiful works of art, but to it, too, unfortunately, owes the eternal disease of mankind, the disease of its spiritual organism – religious skepticism. “Once the spirit has reached itself, when the power of thought is already freed from authority and ever-reliable support, and by way of free conviction, to bring the mind to the ideal, the good, and the divine, as one fully approved by of reason. Then the seeking thought must be aroused against all prejudices, and usually opinions must be accepted only by faith, until everyone with his own mind generates and brings to himself the consciousness of universal truth ”(Carrier, Art in connection with the general development of culture, vol. .II, pp. 167-168). This is the task set by Greek philosophy – to build on the principles of reason a complete worldview, free from any influence of authority. By setting a goal in this way, she naturally came into conflict with religious beliefs. As diverse as the philosophical schools of Greece were, they all had one thing in common – the destructive influence on religion. The free development of thought required, above all, freedom in the religious sphere. Then the man was filled with faith in himself. He drove his adolescence, proud of his own strength, free himself from the shackles of authority. He hoped, indeed, to find his support in reason itself, he hoped to reach the truth completely. How great was Elina’s arrogant pride is clear from the fact that Greece deified man. Amazed by his beauty, first physical, then spiritual, she worshiped this beauty, and from that time man became the true deity of Greece. However, such self-deification could not be called religion. It satisfied the aesthetic rather than the religious needs of the human spirit. A kind of spontaneous indifference was the main characteristic of Greek life at that time. The Greek, as if he did not need a deity, was completely immersed in the world of poetry and beauty. In the beginning, we still see a desire to maintain a crumbling religion, and one of the victims of that desire was Socrates, but only a century later, this same Athenian people apparently completely lost their religious sense.

When Dimitar Poliorket settled in the temple of Athena Paladas, his people sang a hymn to one true deity with the words:

“O son of the supreme god, son of Poseidon

 And Aphrodite!

 Are the other gods without ears?

Or they are too far,

Do they exist at all, but in the end

They don’t care about us…

Here we see your face…

So we pray to you! ”

In these words there is not just indifference, but ridicule of religion, a mockery of careless frivolity, testifying to the complete decline of religious attraction among the people who composed such hymns. From Greece, the wave of disbelief spread to other countries, drawing more and more circles into society. Philosophy, completing its destructive work in the homeland, acquired more and more proselytes outside it. Rome, the lord of the world at that time, is known to have been completely under the spiritual influence of conquered Greece. Two philosophical schools in Greece attracted the most followers from Roman society, and both, although diverging in their basic principles, worked together to destroy the religious foundations of life. These two schools were the Epicurean and the Stoic.

Epicureanism is a system of an absolutely materialistic nature. For the philosophers of this trend, the world was a collection of atoms, infinitesimal indivisible particles, the various combinations of which explain all the phenomena of life. Man revolved entirely in this cycle of matter; both his body and his soul are no more and no less aggregates of material particles, whose ultimate destiny was the destruction, the decomposition of their constituent elements. The ultimate goal in this life was the enjoyment, the harmonious enjoyment of the world, to which the Epicurean assigned all his happiness. It is understandable in what relation to religion such a doctrine stood. There is no place for the deity in this world, since the latter is reduced to a simple conglomeration of matter. “Everything is a lie that the gods usually tell us,” Epicurus wrote in one of his letters, “and there is nothing just in the punishments that are supposed to be sent to the wicked, nor in the rewards provided for the good.” The students were faithful to their teacher. The derisive and contemptuous attitude towards religious beliefs was forever a hallmark of the Epicureans. Lucretius mocks the belief in variety. Heaven is powerless before fate and the laws of nature. There is no deity, no afterlife, no fear of punishment. Nature is the only deity worthy of worship, and only its sacred harmony is worthy of worship, because nature is the source of all life, it creates and develops everything according to its own laws. This deity of Epicurean philosophy needed no sacrifices, no worship, no prayers. Tears would be in vain here – the universe is eternally silent and no, because atoms are indifferent to human suffering. By the way, this circumstance did not bother the followers of Epicurus in the least. It seemed to them that they did not need a living deity, because the very need for a religious feeling had almost died out in their souls. On the contrary, even the very thought of a being above nature and beyond seemed unpleasant and disgusting to them, because it disturbed the clear and bright state of their spirit, disturbed his happy peace.

Stoic philosophy found its widest distribution in the ancient world on the border between the Old and New Testaments. But her influence is no less anti-religious than that of Epicurus. And if the latter was materialism in its purest form, then the former embodied the pantheistic worldview. There the world is seen as a collection of atoms, here descended from the deity, evolving from him according to certain laws, as from the grain grows a plant. There the deity was banished from the world, and his place was taken by the universe; here it merged with the universe, and, therefore, in the end, a lifeless, dead nature remained again. In this way, two different teachings merged into their final conclusions, and if the Epicureans suppressed any religious inclinations, their doctrine had the same effect on the Stoics.

Read more
This post originally posted here The European Times News