Businessman, Philanthropy

George Soros may have been world’s richest man

George Soros is one of the richest men in the entire world. He has gained a reputation among investors as being one of the most talented speculators in the history of the markets. His funds, beginning with Soros Fund Management, have returned over 25 percent, over a period of 40 years. This easily qualifies him among the most adroit and sophisticated investors who have ever lived.

But many do not realize the vast extent of Soros’ philanthropy. Since 1970, Soros has given away more than $15 billion, mostly through his philanthropic organization the Open Society Foundations. It’s interesting to note that Soros, unlike many of his plutocratic peers, has always had a keen interest in philanthropy and has donated vast sums of his personal fortune at every stage of his own development as an entrepreneur and speculator. This naturally leads to the question of just how rich Soros would be if he had never given away significant portions of his vast fortune.

Some investors, such as Warren Buffett, have held the philosophy that they can generate such phenomenal returns and that they are such good custodians of wealth that it would be improper of them to give away principle that they could otherwise put to work in the markets to reap outstanding returns. In fact, this philosophy is probably shared by the majority of those billionaires who appear on the Forbes 400 list. This means that many of these billionaires have never donated significant portions of their own wealth at any given stage of their lives. Instead, their entire capital has been given free rein to compound annually, generating phenomenal returns, year after year. Read more about George’s life story at biography.com.

So how rich would George Soros be if he had never given away any money? Even if we take a conservative estimate that, say, he only gave away the equivalent of $1 billion in the year 1980, we still find that money that was denied the opportunity to compound at 25 percent per year would have been worth vastly more than the starting principal amount. In fact, and the case of the billion dollars that was given away in 1980 and not allowed to compound, those funds today, compounded at 25 percent, over 37 years, would be worth $3.8 trillion. Just this relatively small amounts of George Soros’s lifetime net worth, allowed to compound over 37 years at his historical rates of return, would have easily made him the richest man, not just currently but in the entire history of the world.

Considering that it is very likely that Soros has given away the equivalent of more than 1 billion dollars in 1980, it is safe to conclude that, given his phenomenal ability to generate outsized returns, had he not given away substantial portions of his net worth over the course of his career, he would easily be the richest man in the world today.

Learn more on Discover the Networks about George Soros.

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