Alessio Rastani: Real Trader, Prankster, or Both?
The guy in that BBC interview says he's one Alessio Rastani and that he's a trader. The clip has been making the Internet rounds today mostly because of Rastani's bonkers quotes, i.e. "The governments don't rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world." He's either the most honest trader in the world or a hoax. Rastani and BBC are insisting he's legit, and stunt group the Yes Men, who were thought to be behind this, sent us this statement saying they're not involved:
The Yes Men wish to commend Mr. "Alessio Rastani" for his masterful performance as "trader" on BBC World yesterday. Mr. Rastani's real name is Granwyth Hulatberi; he once appeared on CNBC MarketWrap as a "representative" of the WTO. Well done, Granwyth! You're getting better and better.
Just kidding. 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.
And the BBC doesn't think it's a hoax either: business editor Robert Peston tweeted, "We spoke to the trader again this morning, & as far as we can tell he is a genuine independent trader, not a member of YesMen."
However, as people have been pointing out, Rastani bears some resemblance to this Yes Man:
From our perspective? Those guys don't actually look like the same person.
However, this still doesn't rule out the possibility of a hoax. Rastani's website is blandly called LeadingTrader.com; it almost seems like parody. And everything on it is extremely vague; "I am an experienced stock market and forex trader and professional speaker. I have had the privilege of learning from some of the world's greatest traders." Which traders? It doesn't say. There's no resume and no real evidence that this guy is a trader, though we suppose there's no hard evidence that he's not a trader, either. Could this be an independently-run hoax, or are the Yes Men not telling the truth?
Felix Salmon at Reuters points out that "The Yes Men do set up elaborate hoaxes, but they do so with respect to large institutions: they wouldn't put this much effort into inventing 'Alessio Rastani' out of whole cloth." He raises the possibility that Rastani could be both who he says he is and a member of the Yes Men.
For his part, Rastani gave an interview to Forbes and he's sticking to his guns. "For someone to say what I said, I thought everybody already knew this kind of stuff," he said. "The big players of funds rule the world, I don't think that was news."
Just wait till Occupy Wall Street gets a load of this.
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