UNITED STATES financier George Soros yesterday warned that the Asian crisis was far from over, but said Hong Kong's commitment to its currency peg to the US dollar would limit contagion from the region. Speaking after an address at the World Economic Forum, Mr Soros, who is best-known for his hedge-fund investments, said countries in the region still faced '18 months of recession and depression'. He stopped short, however, of criticising the International Monetary Fund, whose rescue policies have come under attack for being both too harsh and not doing enough to end the volatility. 'In retrospect it is clear that these problems are more complex,' he said. Mr Soros said more should have been done to look at the over-leveraged position of private conglomerates in the region, than simply trying to stem outflows. 'You can't stabilise the exchange rate until you have relieved this pressure.' Mr Soros said he believed international financial markets were also unstable, but added that only a thorough revamping of the international banking system - and the establishment of an international credit agency - may serve to help restore stability on a firmer footing. Without such reforms, international lending and financial markets might collapse, he said. 'I think it may come to that. 'We have to change our attitude; we have to go back to Bretton Woods [which established the IMF and the World Bank], and do some serious rethinking.' Mr Soros said the IMF, the World Bank and the Bank for International Settlements, had made some attempts to prevent a huge wave of turmoil spreading around the world. The institutions, however, had to be revisited. 'We don't have adequate international arrangements,' he said. It was not enough, he added, for international institutions to allow governments to learn from the lessons dealt out by the market place, if it adjudged particular policies adversely. 'We have to revise that idea, if they [markets] are inherently unstable, imposing discipline imposes instability,' Mr Soros said. The contagion in Asia, started by Thailand, had come as a total surprise. While Thailand's economic failings were well appreciated by the market, the wave of turmoil that it caused had prompted consternation worldwide. It was not appreciated that what happened in Thailand would end up 'knocking over one economy after another'. 'We think in the wrong terms, instability is indigenous to financial markets,' Mr Soros said.