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Yen Selling May Become an 'Avalanche,' Soros Says

Friday, 5 Apr 2013 | 3:00 AM ET
George Soros: BOJ Stimulus 'Quite Dangerous'
Thursday, 4 Apr 2013 | 9:35 PM ET
George Soros, Founder & Chairman of Soros Fund Management speaks to CNBC about the Bank of Japan's unprecedented stimulus program and how it could potentially work against the economy.

The policy measures taken in Japan to revive economic growth are "quite dangerous," billionaire investor George Soros told CNBC in an interview on Friday.

(Read More: BOJ Throws In Kitchen Sink in War With Deflation)

Japan's new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is on a concerted drive to kick start the world's third largest economy, which has been hampered by two decades of deflation. On Thursday, the Bank of Japan unveiled radical steps to boost inflation, sparking huge gains in the stock market and sending the yen to three-and-a-half year lows against the dollar on Friday.

(Read More: Bank of Japan Policy Is Huge, Risky Experiment)

George Soros, chairman of Soros Fund Management
Nelson Ching | Bloomberg | Getty Images
George Soros, chairman of Soros Fund Management

"What Japan is doing is actually quite dangerous because they are doing it after 25 years of just simply accumulating deficits and not getting the economy going," Soros told CNBC's Bernie Lo on the sidelines of a conference by the Institute for New Economic Thinking in Hong Kong.

"So if what they are doing gets something started, they may not be able to stop it. If the yen starts to fall, which it has done, and people in Japan realize that it is liable to continue, and want to put their money abroad, then the fall may become like an avalanche," Soros added.

(Read More: Central Bank Chiefs Reluctant to Follow Japan)

The yen has tumbled almost 21 percent since mid-November, falling to 97 per dollar on Friday, and many currency strategists expect a move to the 100-110 area by the end of this year.

"The amount of quantitative easing that he [BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda] is introducing, is the same as in the United States, but Japan is only one-third the size of the U.S. so it is three times more powerful than what's happening in the U.S.," Soros said.

Gartman: Not Certain BoJ Policy Will Work
Dennis Gartman, founder and editor of The Gartman Letter told CNBC that the Bank of Japan is unlikely to reach its targets but that its monetary policy will weaken the currency and strengthen the stock market.

Dennis Gartman, publisher of The Gartman Letter told CNBC he was not certain the BoJ's actions would stimulate the economy.

"I'm not sure that [Kuroda] is going to be able to create inflation and I'm really not quite certain that he will be able to stimulate the economy," he said. We've been through two decades of – for lack of a better term – depression in Japan and the mere attempt to do so, may not succeed."

Importantly for investors, Gartman said the Japanese yen would continue to weaken and the stock market would continue to rally.

He added that other central bankers would be watching the Japan experiment to see if it works and if it does they too may roll out similar policies.

Soros reiterated his view that Europe's economy faced serious problems, adding that austerity measures in the region were "self inflicted."

"Japan is trying to escape after 25 years of slow death, from a policy that Europe has just now adopted. So they are moving in opposite directions. Japan is trying to escape and Europe is just starting," Soros, founder and chairman of Soros Fund Management said.

Soros Fund Management, one of the largest U.S. hedge funds, has an estimated $24 billion assets under management.

Upbeat on China

Soros, famous for profiting over $1 billion for betting against sterling in 1992, described China as one of the most "dynamic" markets globally and said that although China faced many problems, the world's second biggest economy appeared to be successfully shifting towards consumer-led growth.

He said he did not believe a bubble in China's property market would end in a crash.

Beijing has made a number of attempts to contain a booming housing market and last month the government called for the stricter enforcement of a 20 percent capital gains tax on home sale profits.

(Read More: China Property Curbs May Knock 10% Off Prices)

"Everybody knows there is a property bubble that needs to be deflated, but I think the government also knows it and has the resources to do it. It won't end in a crash," Soros said.

Soros also sounded a positive note on the U.S. overcoming its fiscal woes. Budget talks between U.S. lawmakers have proved contentious, leaving the economy facing sharp cuts in domestic and military spending.

"There are fundamental positive factors in the economy, which actually are strong enough to overcome this fiscal drag which is serious," Soros added.

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