Confessions of a trader — Goldman Sachs rules the world

Alessio Rastani is handsome, intelligent, charismatic, extremely expensively dressed, and dreaming of a big stock market crash so he can make money off your misery.

That’s right, this is the man who by his own admission goes to bed every night praying for another recession. Here it is in his own fair hand, and here it is from his own lips in an interview with the BBC yesterday.

It would be nice to dismiss this as frippery, but listen to him talking about the Great Recession of the 1930s – he says it was an opportunity. It was, for some. It also led to mass poverty, soup kitchens, ordinary people, not simply workers but the middle classes and even the better off losing everything, their livelihoods, their possessions, their savings, even their homes. And Mr Rastani dreams of a 21st Century replay of this so that he can make money.

To be fair, he says anyone can make money from a falling market, and he urges people to act now to protect themselves, because in the near future, many people are going to lose their savings, but of course, in reality only the privileged or lucky few can make money when this happens.

Alessio Rastani is the sort of person Chris Bambery and his fellow travellers in the SWP and at the Morning Star newspaper point to as being part of the evil capitalist system. Mr Rastani is not necessarily evil, as he says, he is a trader, and is simply doing his job, making money, but neither is he a capitalist. This is a fact the Chris Bamberys of the world wilfully obfuscate. Capitalists are men and women like Gordon Roddick, who founded The Body Shop with his wife Anita; Mr Roddick also helped set up The Big Issue newspaper.

Then there is a somewhat smaller capitalist, Duncan Mundell, who also both created wealth and gave something back; his reward was to have his shop burned to the ground during the recent riots.

The big difference between genuine capitalists and the likes of Mr Rastani, be they individuals or massive institutions such as Goldman Sachs, is that capitalists create wealth that benefits mankind, which the traders (for want of a stronger word) benefit only themselves.

Capitalists include inventors such as Sir Clive Sinclair, artists such as Paul McCartney (a dollar billionaire), manufacturing companies, distributors – eg supermarkets, farmers, short, any individual, small company or big business that manufactures a genuine product or delivers a bona fide service to people, other businesses, non-profit organisations or governments.

Some capitalists make small profits, some make big profits, and some make what many people consider obscene profits, but these profits are in every sense earned. Traders on the other hand, traders such as Mr Rastani, simply move money from A to B, from B to C, then from C back to A again, or they play similar games with shares, or commodities, in short, they produce nothing. Mr Rastani is not quite so reprehensible because he trades on his own account, but the big funds to which he alludes in his BBC interview trade – ie gamble – with the money of us little people, including our pension funds, and are rewarded whether or not they win.

Mr Rastani says Goldman Sachs rules the world – meaning the bankers and fund managers, not simply this one company. He is not wrong, but our governments have the power to strip them of this privilege, if only they dare, by removing from them the monopoly of credit, and placing it in the hands of responsible national banks. It is a pity that as things stand, this will never happen, because so many of our politicians are on the take. Why else did British Chancellor George Osborne attend the 2010 Bilderberg Conference at St Moritz a month after he assumed office?

[The above op-ed was first published September 27, 2011. The first link in the above article is dead, and ten years on I have not been able to find the original.]

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