Soros warns of worst financial crisis since WWII

(VIENNA) Billionaire investor George Soros said the world was facing the worst financial crisis since World War II and the United States was threatened with recession, according to an interview by the Austrian daily Standard.

‘The situation is much more serious than any other financial crisis since the end of World War II,’ Mr Soros was quoted as saying.

He said that, over the past few years, politics had been guided by some basic misunderstandings stemming from something which he called ‘market fundamentalism’ – the belief financial markets tended to act as a balance.

‘This is the wrong idea,’ he said. ‘We really do have a serious financial crisis now.’

Asked whether he thought the US was headed for a recession, he said: ‘Yes, this is a threat in the United States.’

He added that he was surprised how little understanding there had been on how recession was also a threat to Europe.

European shares fell nearly 6 per cent on Monday, their biggest one-day slide since the Sept 11 attacks of 2001, as fears of a US recession and more writedowns in the financial sector sparked a broad-based selloff.

In Washington, US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said that the US economy remained resilient and has healthy long-term fundamentals, but has slowed ‘materially’ in recent weeks.

Warning that, in the short term, risks were clearly to the downside, he said that Congress and the administration need to agree quickly on a package of tax cuts and other measures to boost the economy.

‘Time is of the essence and the president stands ready to work on a bipartisan basis to enact economic growth legislation as soon as possible,’ Mr Paulson said in remarks to the US Chamber of Commerce as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and leaders in both parties prepared to meet President George W Bush at the White House to discuss a stimulus bill.

Such legislation presumably would involve tax rebates, business tax cuts and funding for a Democraticled call for additional food stamp and employment aid.


Source: AP, Reuters (Business Times 23 Jan 08)

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