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George Soros Follows His Own Advice

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The iconic billionaire returns outside money.

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I'll also share that the most lucid thought I've had since offering in 2003 that we should "sell tech and financials, buy energy and metals, and open a taco stand in Costa Rica" is to edge away from NYC. I'm not the panicky type -- heck, some would say I thrive under pressure -- but I would be remiss if I didn't offer the respect of that honesty. I'm unsure if the genesis of this particular vibe is perceived quality of life or a safer domain for my family, but the intuition is palpable and ever-present.

As it stands, I'm not in a position to do that -- this is where we are and this is what we do -- but my personal choice doesn't alleviate the overarching societal shift or the collective tension that seems to be percolating. I speak with a slew of people in an array of industries throughout the world and the "business is great" feedback is a rarity.

More often than not with increased frequency, the sentiment skews in the other direction, as do anecdotal data points such as thinning crowds at concerts and excess capacity at high-end restaurants and sporting events. There are of course exceptions -- $10 million plus homes in the Hamptons are well-bid, due in large part to again-fat Wall Street bonuses -- but they're outliers in the broader array of our societal fray.

Now, I'm not suggesting we cower in a corner or sell everything to buy guns and butter. Further, I understand that most folks aren't in a position to seize the day and walk away. I've written in the past that if we're not part of the solution, we're part of the problem. That remains true now more than ever; society, at the end of the day, is simply a sum of the parts.

George Soros, speaking last summer at a conference in Vienna, offered, "The collapse of the financial system as we know it is real and the crisis is far from over. Indeed, we have just entered Act II of the drama."

As we wrestle with that reality and attempt to operate in the best interests of ourselves and those we love, some have chosen to extricate themselves from an increasingly tenuous struggle to focus on the little things in life. I suppose they're lucky to have that option, and their actions are consistent with a widespread reprioritization following the Great Recession. I've written about them before; net worth vs. self-worth, having fun vs. being happy, and the caveats of looking for validation at the bottom of a bank account. (See: The Other Side of Wall Street)

For those motivated to power through to better days and easier trades, the actions of a few affect the lives of many. We, the people, need motivated, innovative, proactive problem-solvers to remain engaged as the second side of the storm approaches. While our financial equation is multi-linear, my sense is that we've got four to five years of perseverance and preservation as a precursor to the profound, generational opportunities that will emerge thereafter. (See: The Eye of the Financial Storm)

Looking at this emerging trend of "distancing" another way, we know that the opposite of love isn't hate, it's apathy. Through that lens, folks backing away from the capital market construct may indeed be another step in the steady migration from what was to what will be. We often say the leaders who emerge from the crisis are rarely the same as those who entered it. At the very least, it should be noted that several former leaders have removed themselves from the running.

R.P.

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