Is Alessio Rastani a Yes Man?

By Felix Salmon
September 27, 2011
blog, his Twitter account, and his interview with Forbes, not to mention his notorious BBC interview, it's pretty clear that Alessio Rastani is, at least in part, who he says he is.

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If you look at his blog, his Twitter account, and his interview with Forbes, not to mention his notorious BBC interview, it’s pretty clear that Alessio Rastani is, at least in part, who he says he is. The Yes Men do set up elaborate hoaxes, but they do so with respect to large institutions: they wouldn’t put this much effort into inventing “Alessio Rastani” out of whole cloth. Mostly because there are lots of genuine traders like Alessio Rastani floating around the internet already. They trade their own money, they sometimes win and they sometimes lose, and they aspire to getting famous on the internet and selling their own trading advice.

That said, however, the resemblance to “Jude Finisterra” from the Yes Men is startling. Which raises the question: is it possible that Rastani is both a trader and a member of the Yes Men? And the answer there, I think, is absolutely yes.

Independent traders are, well, independent — and you don’t need to spend very much time hanging around the comments section (or even many of the posts) at Zero Hedge to discern a strong nihilistic and even anti-capitalist strain to much of the thinking in that community. Independent traders are often men in their 20s and 30s who inherited a substantial sum of money and who for whatever reason don’t have a more attractive opportunity in the regular workforce. They work from home, they tend to have a strong contrarian streak, and they have a lot of time on their hands.

All of which is entirely consistent with the profile of the kind of people who might join or become the Yes Men.

If you look at the two videos side by side (here, for instance), two things are pretty clear. One is that Rastani and Finisterra look and sound very similar to each other. But the other is that Finisterra is much less convincing, while Rastani is much more genuine: he seems to know what he’s talking about — stumbling over his words as he tries to explain trading to a broad audience — and believe what he’s saying.

I have no idea, then, whether Alessio Rastani is his real name, or whether he’s a member of the Yes Men. But here’s the thing: even if Rastani were a member of the Yes Men, that wouldn’t necessarily make his interview a hoax. Indeed, a trader who is hoping for a big stock-market crash is exactly the kind of person who might well put time and effort into undermining large corporations like Dow Chemical. Remember that the authors at Zero Hedge call themselves Tyler Durden, after the anarcho-nihilist character in Fight Club who wants to blow up the world.

It’s a common misconception that all traders are die-hard capitalists. But in fact many of them are quite the opposite. They still want to make money, of course. But that doesn’t mean they want the stock market to go up.

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