A trader by the name of Alessio Rastani told a shocked BBC News reporter yesterday, "The governments don't rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world." He warned, "The savings of millions of people are going to vanish," and said viewers should "get prepared" because the "economic crisis is like a cancer, if you just wait and wait thinking this will go away, just like a cancer it's going to grow and it's going to be too late." He added, "I have a confession: I go to bed every night and I dream of another recession, I dream of another moment like this." Such frank (psychopathic?) language earned Rastani attention from news outlets like the Huffington Post, the Guardian, and the Daily Mail, but the chatter on Twitter is crying hoax. (Update: It appears to be legit! See below for more info.)
BBC Business Editor Robert Peston wrote this morning on Twitter, "BBC (& I) may have been hoaxed by YesMen," referring to the culture jamming group that touts itself as, "impersonating big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them. Our targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else." Peston and the Internet's doubters pointed to this Yes Men stunt, which features a fake Dow Chemical spokesman who bears some resemblance to Rastani, the trader.
Peston has since defended the BBC guest: "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."
Rastani's website, meanwhile, is suspiciously called LeadingTrader.com and has a generic description on Google: "Learn to trade the stock market and become a better trader. This is the trading blog of Alessio Rastani." The website appears to be down as of this moment, but the Daily Mail reports that it is "full of pictures of his speaking engagements, but provides little information about his own trading experience." Dubious.
We've asked both the Yes Men and Goldman Sachs what they know about this mysterious Alessio Rastani and will update when we have more information. (Update: Goldman declined to comment.) Here's the full clip from yesterday and a Yes Men stunt below:
Update: Citywire Money reports via Twitter that it is indeed a hoax, but there's no public confirmation yet.
Rastani has a Twitter page and a Facebook, which only serve to make this quite the elaborate fake, if that's what it is, but do nothing to indicate any sort of validity, especially since he has no professional affiliations.
Update 2: Rastani gave an interview to Forbes, in which he explains that he doesn't work on Wall Street.
I’m not an institutional trader. I wouldn’t dream of ever doing that. I trade my own money, my own account. That’s what I always wanted to do. I like the idea of not having a boss. I did work for one institution, but I realized I want to do it for myself. I just started, and I worked with some of the best traders in the world. I saw how they were doing things. Eventually I developed my own style.
When asked if he's heard of the Yes Men, Rastani said, "Heard of it before? Not quite sure why they’re calling me that. I have no idea where that came from. ... I don’t know why they think it’s a hoax. No, I am a trader absolutely. I have trader friends who could back that up. One of my mentors is a bestselling author and trader. Everyone knows me." Everybody does now.
Update 3: The Yes Men say they're not involved, but commend the man's honesty. Here's their statement:
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.