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Tuesday, 2 January, 2001, 07:00 GMT
Soros warns of global slowdown
George Soros
Mr Soros is seen as the man who drove the pound out of the ERM
George Soros, the currency speculator who earned the title of 'the man who broke the Bank of England', has warned that a new global financial crisis is inevitable.

Mr Soros, who made 1bn by betting on the devaluation of sterling in 1992, has warned that the weakening in the US economy will prove more severe than predicted.

The fallout of the slowdown, which he says US authorities will be powerless to stem, will prompt a weakening of the global economy, with developing countries particularly affected, Mr Soros said.

The comments come a week after Sir Edward George, governor of the Bank of England, joined experts predicting that the US economy is slowing more quickly than had been hoped.

But Ian Plenderleith, a member of the Bank's flagship committee of economists, said on Monday that US economic slowdown was "not the central case".

Talk of global recession reflects "a very considerable exaggeration of prospects we are looking at at the moment", said Mr Plenderleith.

Slow reaction

Mr Soros said the US Federal Reserve, which sets interest rates in the US, had been slow to react to the weakening of the country's economy.

"I think this time the Federal Reserve is more following the market than leading it," he told the El Mercurio newspaper in Chile, where he took a New Year holiday.

While the Fed would cut interest rates "aggressively" early this year, its efforts to continue a 'soft landing' for the US economy, which analysts feared was overheating until the middle of last year, would go unrewarded, he added.

"I believe that it [the landing] will be bouncy and hard," Mr Soros said.

"A hard landing means a slowdown and could eventually turn into a recession or low growth for a couple of quarters."

Capital flows

Mr Soros said he was most worried about the effects of the slowdown on developing countries, who would suffer as capital inflows dried up.

"It is going to be chronic, not a temporary crisis, and I believe it is already underway."

But emerging markets would not be hit by a meltdown of the proportion of the 1997-98 Asian crisis.

"The markets are already down, which means you cannot have a crash after a crash," Mr Soros said.

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01 Jan 01 | Business
Which way for shares in 2001?
29 Dec 00 | Business
US slowdown to affect UK economy
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Stock markets see red over 2000
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Soros: Euro may 'disintegrate'
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The man who broke the Bank of England
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