This video has been sparking a lot of controversy on the Internet and the media — and for good reason. In a shocking display of honesty, independent trader, Alessio Rastani, openly said:
“For most traders, we don’t really care that much how they’re going to fix the economy, how they’re going to fix the whole situation. Our job is to make money from it. And personally, I’ve been dreaming of this moment for three years. I have a confession, which is, I go to bed every night, I dream another recession, I dream of another moment like this. Why? Because people don’t seem to remember but the ’30s depression wasn’t just about a market crash. There were some people who were prepared to make money from that crash. And I think anybody can do that. It isn’t just for some people in the elite. Anybody can actually make money, it’s an opportunity. When the market crashes, when the Euro and the big stock markets crash, if you know what to do, if you have the right plan set up, you can make a lot of money from this.”
That evoked a collective jaw-drop from BBC reporters. Rastani continued by bluntly saying:
“This economic crisis is like a cancer, if you just wait and wait hoping it is going to go away, just like a cancer, it is going to grow and it will be too late…This is not a time [for] wishful thinking that government is going to sort things out. The governments don’t rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world. Goldman Sachs does not care about this rescue package, neither [do] the big funds.”
He then suggests that people prepare by protecting their assets because “in less than 12 months, my prediction is, the savings of millions of people [are] going to vanish.”
Because of Rastani’s rare and shocking analysis of our economic crisis, people thought he was hoax or part of the Yes Men. BBC and NPR confirmed, however, that this guy is a real trader and not a hoax.
What Rastani said is, for the most part, correct. While it may be hyperbole to say that “Goldman Sachs rules the world” (other elements of the power system, such as the Pentagon and multinational corporations, are highly influential in world affairs, too), Goldman Sachs, along with other major banks and multinational corporations, has significant influence in policymaking. This relationship ensures that governments work to protect the interests of business and financial elites at the expense of millions of ordinary people. As a result, politics becomes, as John Dewey said, “the shadow cast over society by big business.” It is also true that traders and financial elites look at economic crises as opportunities to make money. For example, as I wrote before, Goldman Sachs bet that the housing bubble (which it helped create) would crash and made lots of money as a result. Unfortunately, this meant that millions of people lost their homes. And Rastani is correct to point out that this crisis is like a cancer and will continue to grow, if nothing serious is done about it.
While much of what Rastani said was true, his comments caught people by surprise because you normally don’t hear that sort of honesty on a mainstream media network. Not to mention his assessment was very grim and looking at recessions as an opportunity to make money, rather than fix the economy, is pretty callous and cynical, given how many people are suffering. Yet, to seriously deal with the economic crisis, this is the sort of honesty we need.
UPDATE (10/18/2011): Alessio Rastani was on Al-Jazeera’s Inside Story a few days ago talking about Occupy Wall Street. Interestingly enough, he sympathizes with the protesters. The discussion is worth listening to (click here to watch).