Chrystia Freeland: I’d like to turn now, if we may, to the United States, where politics and the economy are also quite volatile. You were a very early supporter of President Barack Obama. What report card do you give him now?
George Soros: Well, look, either you’ll have an extremist conservative, be it Gingrich or Santorum, in which case I think it will make a big difference which of the two comes in. If it’s between Obama and Romney, there isn’t all that much difference except for the crowd that they bring with them. And that’s not very encouraging on either side because Obama’s administration is a bit exhausted — a lot of the talent has left — and the Republicans would have to, or a Republican candidate would have to, bring in probably an extremist vice-president.
Chrystia Freeland: But isn’t there actually quite a big difference between even a President Obama and a President Romney when it comes to questions of taxation, particularly taxation of the so-called 1 percent, issues like carried interest? Do you see any difference there?
George Soros: Well, that is the big difference, and that has led my hedge fund community to abandon Obama in favor of any Republican because they don’t like to be taxed. I personally believe that when it comes to policy, you shouldn’t be pursuing self-interest, but the public interest. And I think that the income differentials are too wide and ought to be narrowed.
Chrystia Freeland: Are you one of Lenin’s useful idiots?
George Soros: Pardon?
Chrystia Freeland: Are you one of Lenin’s useful idiots, in the view of your fellow hedge fund billionaires, to be making this kind of argument?
George Soros: Well, I suppose so. I am a traitor to my class.
Chrystia Freeland: Thank you very much, Mr. Soros. Fascinating, enlightening as ever.
George Soros: And a pleasure. Thanks.