Trader Alessio Rastani was interviewed on BBC News recently. He was frank. Honest. Too honest?
And the truth was ugly. “I go to bed every night and I dream of a recession.” He wants it. Have a watch.
How do you feel now? Scared? Angry? Grateful to him for his transparency?
Reaction has fallen into two categories: Horror at the naked single-minded greed. And suspicion that the guy is a hoaxer – because surely no real trader would be so foolish to speak with such candour and perhaps it would be comforting to have a fig leaf behind which to hide the truth.
What do you think? Calm down. Don’t punch your computer screen.
Which camp do you fall into? Horrified? Or suspicious?
Apparently it is definitely not a hoax. There were suspicions that the interviewee belonged to the Yes Men pranksters. And there has been mixed panic and delight within the BBC since the broadcast. Fear that another broadcast has not been what it purported to be – and delight that another department could have cocked up so royally.
The old phrase comes to mind. It’s not enough that you succeed, but that your friends fail. It’s not my approach to life. But I’d be lying if I denied encountering it. And I’ll admit to enjoying the time an applicant for a cleaning job (the decent and resilient Guy Goma) for whom English was not his first language was mistakenly interviewed on live TV as an expert on information technology. (See clip. Hee hee. His face at the start when he’s introduced with the wrong name on live TV. Classic.)
But more seriously. There’s no point presuming that guys like Alessio Rastani will act against their own interests for the more general good. And that applies to most of us the rest of us too when it comes to doing what is right and what is convenient. But there’s also no point in surrendering policy making to the financiers on the assumption that they’ll have social good as their prime consideration.