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I'm the Jewish Banker Behind the Soros Fortune

The Internet is crawling with loonie stories alleging that liberal funder George Soros is a frontman for the Rothschild banking family, in the service of a conspiracy for world government. In the 19th century, to be sure, the Rothschild bank exercised enormous power at the peak of British and French financial influence. Today the Rothschild bank in London is a boutique with annual profits of about $70 million, a rounding error in the accounts of a J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs. Never you mind, respond the paranoids: the Rothschilds are a hidden octopus, and the fact that we don't see their money proves that it's all a conspiracy. You can't talk sense to tin hats.

There is one part of this story that I can clarify, however: I am the Jewish banker responsible for a large part of Soros' fortune. It wasn't intentional, and I'm sorry about it, but there was no conspiracy involved, let alone a Jewish one. Soros already was rich when our paths crossed; he had made several billion dollars for his investors speculating against the British pound in 1992. His next great trade was a short against the Thai baht during the great Asian financial crisis of 1997, and that's where I came in.

During 1995 and 1996, Thailand took in vast amounts of foreign money. This fed a bubble in real estate prices that was at the point of popping. At the end of December 1996, I traveled to Bangkok with a plan to reorganize Thai banks' real-estate debts on the model of America's successful resolution of the savings and loan crash of the late 1980s. Asia Times then was a print newspaper and its publisher had good contacts with the government. I cooled my heels and waited.

On New Year's Eve 1996, a Saturday night, I went out with friends from Asia Times. We started drinking over dinner at a Chinese restaurant on the Bangkok River and finished at around 6:00 a.m. Thailand grows the world's sweetest oranges, and they make a delicious Screwdriver. I lost count of how many I had before I poured myself into a taxi and made it back to my hotel on my own power.

The phone rang at 9:00 a.m. It was Asia Times' publisher. "Your meeting at the prime minister's office came through," he said. "Be there in an hour." With the worst hangover of my life, I stumbled into the shower and into a suit, and took a hotel car to the prime minister's office. There I presented my plan to a dozen staffers. They listened politely. The chief of staff said, "The financial situation is even worse than you think. The problem is that your plan would wipe out some of the existing shareholders, and every Bangkok bank has several members of parliament in its pocket. Our hands our tied. Have a nice day."