27 September 2011
There has been much speculation that the “trader” who appeared on the BBC News channel yesterday may be prankster, and perhaps even a member of the Yes Men. If true, this would be a huge embarrassment for the BBC.
Self-styled “independent trader” Alessio Rastani created quite a stir with yesterday’s astonishing interview, in which he claimed he dreams about recession and that Goldman Sachs rules the world. Many found what he said deeply repugnant.
Referring to IMF and EU plans to salvage the euro, Rastani said Goldman Sachs “doesn’t care about this rescue package” because they know “the stock market is finished” and they “don’t really care” about the euro.
Rastani, interviewed by an increasingly perplexed Martine Croxall, said that: “In less than twelve months, my prediction is, the savings of millions of people are going to vanish.”
Explaining how anyone should be able to profit from the current crisis he said: “The economic crisis is like a cancer. If you just wait and wait, thinking this is going to go away, just like a cancer it’s going to grow and it’s going to be too late.”
But is Rastani, who is not FSA registered, a hoaxer?
The Daily Edge believes he may be a ‘Yes Man‘, claiming he bears a resemblance to Andy Bichlbaum who, posing as a Dow Chemical spokesman named Jude Finisterra, successfully hoaxed BBC News in 2007.
London-based Financial News has been trying to track Rastani down while Forbes’s Emily Lambert did track him down. In the Forbes interview he seemed a little hazy on some of the things that one would have thought traders would know about, but also said: “They thought I was joyful or licking my lips about the idea of making money from people’s miseries. That’s probably the way it looked on the video. But if they watch the whole video, what I was really trying to say is people need to educate themselves about how to do that… what I was trying to say was, look, everyone should basically prepare. I was trying to be the good guy.”
US-based financial journalist Teri Buhl tweeted:-
@Peston if goldman sachs rules the world guy is a real trader why couldn’t he articulate where to put money in a downturn? US T isn’t answer
However according to BBC business editor Robert Peston, Rastani is genuine. Peston has tweeted:-
@Peston We spoke to the trader again this morning, & as far as we can tell he is a genuine independent trader, not a member of Yes Men
That is certainly what I felt after reading the Forbes piece. But I’m still not 100% convinced…
Update 1: 3.45pm, Sept 27th:
I think Rastani is genuine insofar as he probably does trade on his own account, as a hobby (i.e. he is a day trader) and may also teach other traders. I suspect that, because he so baldly stated some half truths that few apart from Zerohedge really wanted to hear, and which bankers and market traders never normally utter, it was immediately assumed he must be some sort of prankster.
The Yes Men have confirmed he is not one of their number. In a statement on their website they said: “We’ve never heard of Rastani. He isn’t a Yes Man. He’s a real trader who is, for one reason or another, being more honest than usual. Who in big banking doesn’t bet against the interests of the poor and find themselves massively recompensed—if not by the market, then by humongous taxpayer bailouts? Rastani’s approach has been completely mainstream for several years now; we must thank him for putting a human face on it yesterday.”
Update 2: 4pm, Sept 27th
Kid Dynamite’s World has an extensive blog post explaining why Rastani became a viral phenomenon and why so many want to dismiss him as a prankster. He writes: “Is our mainstream media so used to bullish talking heads – mutual fund managers talking their books and their careers – that anytime someone injects a dose of reality into a conversation, it becomes newsworthy.”
In a press release the BBC has also confirmed that Rastani is not a hoaxer.
Update 3: 8.10pm, Sept 27th
Now I’m beginning to wonder again. The Telegraph has tracked Rastani down to his semi-detached home in Bexlelyheath and he admitted he is “an attention seeker”, not a trader.
Here’s a longer interview that Alessio Rastani gave to BBC Radio