A FINANCIAL trader in London caused a storm of outrage by suggesting that world leaders cannot do anything to prevent a global market collapse, saying that investment bank Goldman Sachs ruled the world.
Alessio Rastani's comments on BBC Television on Monday have gone viral, viewed by more than 360,000 people, but they fit so closely to the stereotype of a heartless banker that rumours are rife that he is actually part of a hoax.
Answering questions about world leaders' response to the eurozone debt crisis, the 34-year-old said traders "know the stock market is finished. The euro, as far as they're concerned, they don't really care".
"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," he said.
"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 of another recession."
As the BBC presenter looked on in shock, he added: "The governments don't rule the world. Goldman Sachs rules the world. Goldman Sachs does not care about this rescue package, neither does the big funds."
A Goldman Sachs spokeswoman said the bank had no comment.
The remarks by Rastani, described by the BBC as an independent trader, caused a storm on Twitter and in British newspapers, and prompted Spanish Finance Minister Elena Salgado to brand him "mad and immoral."
The Daily Mail website said it was the "moment trader told shocked BBC presenter the City just LOVES an economic disaster," while The Independent described him as "the trader who lifted the lid on what the City really thinks".
The Guardian asked readers in an online poll if they were shocked, with two options: "No, this is how capitalism works", or "Yes (but only by his honesty)".
Asked about his warning that millions of people's savings could vanish in the next year, Salgado said this was not the case as savings were guaranteed across Europe.
"He thinks that he can get money simply with this threat, with this statement," she told Spanish public television TVE.
"So he is not only mad, he is mad and immoral."
Other commentators meanwhile speculated that Rastani was simply expressing views in public that were privately held by many.
BBC business editor Robert Peston said on Twitter that Rastani had merely "voiced what traders working for big firms and funds say in private," while the Financial Times asked in a blog entry "Do traders dream of defaulting Greeks?"
Some media reports have suggested Rastani is a member of The Yes Men, a US-based protest group who claimed responsibility for a bogus report in 2004 on the BBC that Dow Chemical would compensate victims of the Bhopal disaster.
In an interview with Forbes website, he denied he bore any resemblance to the fictitious Dow spokesman who orchestrated that hoax and insisted he was a genuine trader who worked for himself.
The BBC also stood by him, saying it had carried out "detailed investigations" but could find no evidence to suggest Rastani was not what he claimed.