On Monday, the BBC interviewed a trader named Alessio Rastani, who was remarkably blunt in his assessment of our global economic prospects.
"The governments don't rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world," he said. "The savings of millions of people are going to vanish."
Rastani admitted that he has been dreaming of a global recession for years. Most people forget, he said, that those who were prepared for the Great Depression made a lot of money.
This prompted admiration from some traders—and outrage by many who thought his cold-hearted profit-seeking was just too much. The words "sociopath" and "psychopath" were thrown around.
Then his words prompted skepticism. Could this guy be for real? Was this an elaborate hoax on the BBC?
There was a lot of speculation that Rastani could actually be a hoax by The Yes Men, the prankster group famous for (as they put it) "impersonating big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them. Our targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else." Well, that sure sounds like Rastani.
Lots of people have been pointing to this video of Yes Men founder Andy Bichlbaum impersonating a spokesperson for Dow Chemical on BBC. Some think Bichlbaum looks a lot like Rastani.
"We spoke to the trader again this morning, (and) as far as we can tell he is a genuine independent trader, not a member of YesMen," he wrote.
Emily Lambert of Forbes called Rastani.
The results of her interview are ambiguous. Rastani doesn't seem to have very good answers to her questions, and seems to be dodging her at times. But he also doesn't sound as over-the-top as you would expect him to be if her were a prankster.
So what's going on?
Well, personally, I don't think he looks all that much like Bichlbaum. You can judge for yourself from the videos above. They just don't seem to be the same guy.
And Rastani has a Twitter accountthat dates back to 2010, at least. If this is a hoax, it is a very elaborate hoax.
His YouTube account has a trading advice video from 2009.
I think what Rastani may be is a day trader who makes a good amount of money selling other day traders strategies and speaking at seminars. He appears to be as much a "trading coach" as a trader. Rastani's website, LeadingTrader.com, looks to be geared around touting himself as someone who can show you how to make money trading.
In short, he could be a fraud or a scam artist, but I don't think he's a Yes Men type prankster.
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