BILL MOYERS:Welcome to the Journal.
You are not alone if you are worried about the financial melt down. So is my guest George Soros, one of the world's best known and successful investors, making billions in times of boom or bust. He's been warning for years of a financial melt down fueled by easy credit and sleepy regulation. Now he's out with this timely book, "The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means."
In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I served three years on the board of George Soros' foundation, the Open Society Institute, dealing with such issues as a free press, the rule of law, and human rights. But I've had no involvement in his political activities and nothing to do, with his business interests unfortunately. It's good to see you.
GEORGE SOROS:Same here.
BILL MOYERS:Let's imagine for a moment that we're not in a New York studio but we are in Neely's Barbecue Stand in Marshall, Texas, my hometown, and we're surrounded by people I know, people who have lost half of their 401(k)s in the last three or four weeks, and what they want to know is does this financial meltdown represent the end of the American dream as they have known it.
GEORGE SOROS:No. No. I think it's got nothing to do with the American dream as such. There has been some kind of an ideological excess; namely, market fundamentalism for the last 25 or so years. And now that world is collapsing...
BILL MOYERS:What do you mean "market fundamentalism"?
GEORGE SOROS:It's that markets will correct themselves, that you should leave it to the markets, and there is no need for government intervention in financial affairs. Letting markets run rampant. And that doesn't work.
Markets have the ability to adjust and they're very flexible. There is this invisible hand. But it is also prone to be mistaken. In other words, markets instead are reflecting reality. They always look at reality with a bias. There is always a prevailing bias. I'll call it, you know, optimism/pessimism.
And sometimes those moods actually can reinforce themselves so that there are these initially self-reinforcing but eventually unsustainable and self-defeating boom/bust sequences or bubbles. And this is what has happened now.
This current economic disaster is self-generated. It was generated by the market itself, by getting too cocky, using leverage too much, too much credit. And it got excessive.
... Read and watch the full interview