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May 29, 2017

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Germany must lead eurozone out of recession or leave: Soros

BERLIN--Germany must lead the eurozone out of recession or quit the currency bloc to save the future of Europe, billionaire financier George Soros told the New York Review of Books.

"In my judgment the best course of action is to persuade Germany to choose between becoming a more benevolent hegemon or leaving the euro. In other words, Germany must lead or leave," Soros wrote in an article published in the New York Review of Books last week.

"The difficulty is in convincing Germany that its current policies are leading to a prolonged depression, political and social conflicts, and an eventual break-up not only of the euro but also of the European Union," Soros argued.

Soros, 82, has frequently criticized Germany for its insistence on austerity.

Since the eurozone's mountain of debt is denominated in euros, "it makes all the difference who remains in charge of the euro," he said.

"If Germany left, the euro would depreciate. The debt burden would remain the same in nominal terms but diminish in real terms. The debtor countries would regain their competitiveness because their exports would become cheaper and their imports more expensive," Soros said.

In a decision that sent markets booming, the European Central Bank last week announced it could buy unlimited amounts of the bonds of struggling countries to bring down their soaring borrowing costs.

While Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted the ECB was acting within its mandate, the Bundesbank, as well as several politicians and media in Germany, slammed the decision as providing a "blank check" to profligate euro countries.

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