Soros predicts end of the road for cheap and easy borrowing

The City of London faces a severe recession and the UK economy is set to follow the US into a sharp downturn, according to a gloomy prognosis from the billionaire financier George Soros.

Faced with over-valued houses, mountains of personal debt and a rise in unemployment, the UK is especially vulnerable to the effects of the credit crisis sweeping through financial markets, Mr Soros said, and he warned not to expect a rebound at any point in the near future.

Indeed, the crisis is so serious that it will up-end 25 years of free-market thinking and bring to an end an era of cheaper and easier borrowing, he predicted. "It is not going to be like the 1930s – we are not going to allow financial institutions to fail – but this is a historic event like the Great Depression was."

In the UK, as in the US and the rest of the developed world, "ever looser lending standards and more aggressive supply of mortgages" have contributed to a house price bubble but, said Mr Soros, "I think we have come to the end of the road".

"To say that it won't affect the real economy is untenable, because it affected it on the upside, so it will affect it on the downside. Recession in the US is inevitable. There will be implications for the globalised economy and the UK happens to be as vulnerable as the US, but in different ways. The finance industry is much more important to the UK because London is a financial centre and the industry is going through a painful process of deleveraging. The housing market in the UK has at least not seen the building boom that we have seen in the US and the supply of new homes has not gone up, but on the other hand, the indebtedness of UK households is actually even greater relative to income than in the US."

Mr Soros's warning of the inevitability of a US recession came as new figures revealed an increase in unemployment of 80,000 people, significantly ahead of economists' forecasts. The jobless rate in America rose to 5.1 per cent in March, the highest level since September 2005, and a rise from February's 4.8 per cent.

The views of a man who was born in Hungary and made his fortune in US hedge funds have always had a particular piquancy in the UK, where he is feted as the man who "broke the Bank of England". His heavy bets against sterling helped force it out of the European exchange rate mechanism in 1992, netting himself an estimated $1bn profit that Black Wednesday.

He deems the issue of sterling's value as too sensitive to discuss in interviews with British journalists these days, but in his new book, The New Paradigm for Financial Markets, he notes grimly that "the overvaluation of the euro and sterling is going to hurt European economies".

Mr Soros's main concern, though, is for the dollar, whose status is being eroded by the credit crisis, pushing up import prices and causing a dilemma for those who want still more interest rate cuts to stimulate the US economy. "The Federal Reserve is constrained by the reluctance of the rest of the world to hold dollars," he said. "We face the double jeopardy of recession and inflation."

Echoing the themes of The New Paradigm, Mr Soros said: "Regulators have abandoned their duty by letting markets regulate themselves. It's because a market fundamentalist ideology has come to dominate the behaviour of market participants and market regulators over the past 25 years ... and the idea that markets are best left to their own devices became policy."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Training Programme Manager (Learning and Development)-London

£28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...

Training/Learning and Development Coordinator -London

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Training/Learning and Development Co...

Business Anaylst

£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

Project Manager - ETRM/CTRM

£70000 - £90000 per annum + Job Satisfaction: Harrington Starr: Project Manage...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor