As Europe struggles to help debt-strapped euro zone nations, one man took to BBC to offer his dire predictions for the future: there is no hope.
Alessio Rastani, who calls himself an independent trader, appeared on the BBC to offer his opinion on the Greek bailout, in which the 17 nations of the euro zone will be voting on a rescue package for Greece — and maybe other nations — in an attempt to fix the financial crisis.
President Obama said in a town hall on Monday that the European crisis was “scaring the world,” while Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called it the “most serious risk now confronting the world economy.” Geithner urged European governments to agree to the bailout plan.
Rastani did not have much regard for any government interjection. “The governments don’t rule the world,” Rastani said. “Goldman Sachs rules the world. Goldman Sachs does not care about this rescue package.”
Rastani said that people must start protecting their assets and working to defend their own self-interest, of which he freely admitted he’s doing. “If I see an opportunity to make money, I go for that... [Traders] don’t really care how they’re going to fix the economy, our job is to make money.”
The BBC news anchor, looking shaken after Rastani’s speech, said the message left everyone in the studio with their mouths agape.
On Rastani’s Web site, LeadingTrader.com, he offers lessons in just how to make money off financial crises such as the one in Europe.
Some supporters trumpeted Rastani as a hero on his Facebook page. “Thank you for telling the truth,” one poster commented on his wall. Others berated him for his cavalier attitude: “People who thrive on the destruction of wealth and other people's suffering should be jailed and all their assets impounded,” another wrote.
Still others questioned if the whole thing was a masterful prank. Forbes contacted Rastani, who stood by his claim of being an independent trader, but writer Emily Lambert pointed to another BBC interview in 2007 in which a so-called representative from Dow Jones admitted to the Bhopal disaster in India. The representative, who went by the name Jude Finisterra, turned out to be a member of the Yes Men, a group of pranksters that target corporations. Finisterra bears a strong resemblance to Rastani.
The Yes Men denied Rastani had any connection to their group, putting out a statement that he was, in fact, a trader. “He's a real trader who is, for one reason or another, being more honest than usual,” a Yes Men leader who goes by the name of Andy Bichlbaum writes. “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?” The statement also encouraged people to come to the protests taking place on Wall Street.
Andy Bichlbaum is most likely the man who portrayed the Dow Jones representative and appears in photographs older than Rastani, though they do bear a resemblance.
As for Rastani, he has yet to make a comment on his Twitter feed. Prophet, prankster or simply a good interview subject? The jury is still out.
Update: Turns out he’s a talker. Not a prankster. Or a trader. At least that’s what Alessio Rastani tells the Telegraph. He claims trading is his hobby and that he went on BBC because he’s an “attention seeker.” Read the full interview here.