Soros Blames 'Bush Factor' for Dollar's Fall
LONDON (Reuters - 6-29) - Billionaire investor George Soros on Thursday blamed President Bush and his team for the fall in the U.S. dollar
and declared: ``The international financial system is coming apart at the seams.''
``I think we're in fairly serious trouble. I do think we're in a crisis situation,'' said the Hungarian-born hedge fund
king-turned-philanthropist in a speech to the London Business School on Thursday evening.
``We have the Latin American crisis and we have the declining U.S. dollar, which means that the motor of the global economy is
basically switched off,'' said Soros.
``There is a lack of confidence. That's what I call the 'Bush factor' in the economy,'' said the 72-year-old speculator.
Soros, whose assault on the British pound 10 years ago ejected Britain from the European exchange rate mechanism, said the dollar's
recent decline had taken him by surprise.
``What worries me is that there doesn't seem to be any great desire on part of the authorities to do much. There is still a belief,
particularly in the United States, that the financial markets will correct themselves. But markets cannot be left on their own. You need to
correct them,'' said Soros.
The dollar has seen multi-year lows against the euro amid worries about profitability, corporate chicanery and global security.
It slumped to within a cent of parity with the euro on Wednesday on news of the accounting scandal at U.S. telecoms group WorldCom
Inc. and sagged against major currencies on Thursday against a backdrop of news that the U.S. economy expanded at a 6.1 percent
annual rate in the first quarter, the fastest in more than two years, and firmer Wall Street stocks.
Analysts, while regarding the U.S. economic team's handling of the dollar drop as not very elegant, say there is nothing to suggest the
Bush administration is unhappy about the slide, something that may please its business constituents.
Many are wondering what happened to the ``strong dollar'' policy born in the Clinton era and left to flounder under Bush.
On Thursday, White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey said on CNBC television that the administration did support a strong
dollar but he also backed the view that the markets should set the value of the currency.
But Soros said: ``The claim that markets are always right is a false claim. What's true is that markets are often wrong, therefore you need
intervention by central banks.''
ANYONE AT HOME?
Soros said the ``Bush factor'' was to blame for a flight to liquidity in financial markets. ``Everyone's going home. The Swiss banks are
going home. The strengthening of the yen also clearly shows repatriation,'' he said.
``The markets are looking for leadership. Stock markets would take heart from intervention by the United States because it would show
that there's somebody at home,'' he said.
Soros declined to comment when asked by Reuters about the outlook for the ailing U.S. currency and U.S. assets.
He said the global economic downturn had exposed the weaknesses of corporate America and how the U.S. administration runs the
international economic system.
He said that the collapse of U.S. oil trader Enron Corp. and the accounting scandal at WorldCom were to a large extent a ''natural
fallout'' from the economic boom-and-bust cycle following the bull market of the 1990s and the ensuing burst.
``But the decline in the markets have gone somewhat further than what would be the natural consequences of the previous exuberance,''
``What is not the natural consequence of that boom and bust cycle is the decline in the U.S. dollar. If things had gone according to plan,
the dollar ought to have been quite strong.''
``The decline in the dollar came as a surprise to me,'' he added.
``I attribute it to lack of confidence in the management of affairs by the United States, its unilateralism, the pursuit of national...