telegraph.co.uk; via MDDP on facebook
George Soros, the billionaire investor, has predicted riots on the streets and global class war as the economic downturn results in a new "age of fallibility".
Image from entry, with caption: Mr Soros compared the current crisis to the collapse of the Soviet empire and the Great Depression
In an interview ahead of a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the 81-year-old said that for the first time in his career he was baffled by the current state of the market, and saw no way to avoid a violent crisis which at its worst could result in the total collapse of the financial system.
Known as the "man who broke the Bank of England" after betting against the pound on Black Wednesday in 1992, Mr Soros plans to use his Davos address to issue a stern warning that he now considers it "more likely than not" that Greece will default in 2012. And unless Europe's leaders do more to stop it, the euro is likely to collapse with a devastating impact on the rest of the world, he will add.
The financier compared the crisis to the collapse of the Soviet empire and the Great Depression, adding that the old belief in the power of the market to prevent turmoil could no longer be relied upon.
He told Newsweek: "The euro must survive because the alternative – a break-up – would cause a meltdown that Europe, the world, can't afford. I'm not here to cheer you up. The situation is about as serious and difficult as I've known in my career. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world.
"The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system. We need to move from the Age of Reason to the Age of Fallibility in order to have a proper understanding of the problems."
Warning that violence on the streets was inevitable unless the problems of unemployment and debt were addressed, he warned this could lead to the erosion of civil liberties and installation of a police state.
Asked about the likelihood of riots in the US, he said: "Yes, yes, yes. It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong arm tactics to maintain law and order which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained."