Opinion

Felix Salmon

Is Alessio Rastani a Yes Man?

By Felix Salmon
September 27, 2011

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.

Comments
22 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Bryce Elder @ FT notes: “Coincidentally, one assumes, “Alessio Rastani” is an anagram of “Alias on Satires.” ”

aside from that, I have no idea why everyone is making a big deal about this video. because the guy isn’t a perma bull? jeezus – everything he said seems COMPLETELY rational and reasonable.

Posted by KidDynamite | Report as abusive
 

@ KidDynamite – I think the outrage is not so much that he isn’t a bull but that he’s boasting of making money off of other people’s misery, casting it not just in terms of profiting off of market movements but saying specifically that millions of people’s savings will be wiped out, and he’ll make a fortune off that fact. This seems to fly in the face of the line that traders are just the stewards of a free market system that benefits everyone and creates jobs and wealth.

One thing he’s saying that’s not “rational and reasonable” is that “everyone” can do the sort of trades he’s hinting at and profit from the coming collapse. If he’s not just a snake-oil salesman, then it’s true that *anyone* could trade in this fashion and make that money; but if *everyone* did it, then the behavior of the markets would change radically, presumably in ways that would make those trades no longer profitable. The distinction between “anyone can succeed” and “everyone can succeed” is a hugely important one that I think is lost on a lot of people who suggest market solutions to societal problems.

Posted by jfruh | Report as abusive
 

@jfruh – i don’t think that’s how he said it at all though. he said people need to educate themselves. he said people need to be prepared. he said that we can’t just hope this will fix itself. it’s all accurate and reasonable.

he didn’t say that he would financially rape all of the fat ignorant Americans who think that they can put their money in the stock market and reap 8% annual returns.

and yes – not everyone can short futures, but everyone CAN awaken themselves to the incentives of the bullish talking heads in the mutual fund industry who bombard the airwaves on a daily basis.

also see the post I just wrote on this, which includes a quote from Rastani from a follow up Forbes interview:

http://kiddynamitesworld.com/why-are-you -making-such-a-big-deal-about-alesso-ras tani/

and hit me up with follow up comments there…

Posted by KidDynamite | Report as abusive
 

Well, he’s certainly ruffled some feathers. What he’s saying is, of course, perfectly reasonable. Perhaps others who simply short the markets aren’t so clear sighted about what they’re doing.

Methinks a bit of collective growing up is necessary here…

Posted by pilkingtonphil | Report as abusive
 

such abuse for not reiterating the bulls mantra ..”onwards and upwards, irrespective”

whether he’s correct or not his general advice to be prepared and even hedge against a market collapse is sensible and deserves airtime if only to ensure a better balance.

methinks from the reaction there are a lot of frayed nerves amongst the equity bulls.

Posted by behindthecurve | Report as abusive
 

It’s been a long time since I’ve watched Fight Club but I recall Durden only wanted to blow up the headquarters of several credit card companies, not the entire world, to usher in a financial reset of sorts. But I suppose this description would serve your point about Rastani/Finisterra just as well.

Posted by Lukeaduke | Report as abusive
 

Before everyone is going off halfcocked.
Who is this Rastani guy?

A bit of “googling” bring us to this site,
http://whois.domaintools.com/ezeetraders ystem.com

Lo and behold, a mr Rastani in the UK who seems to be involved in selling day trading systems of some sort.
Spreadbetpro, Ezeetradersystem.

He lives at 60 Lavernock Road Bexleyheath, DA7 5AL UK.
Google on the address and you find,
http://www.192.com/prices/details/92c239 4c0d0ce64496c5ad8e61f1eae896c8e4a4/lr/

He bought the house in 2009 for 200.000 pound.
Look on google maps for a close-up of the house.

If this is the same mr. Rastani, living in such a very modest house, he’s not making very much money.

Posted by Copywriter | Report as abusive
 

It’s all propaganda, guys. Damn, when you’re so heavily indoctrinated you ask simple questions like: was it because he made money off misery? What the hell — markets ONLY goal is to make money in good times and bad. And of course he’s not a Yes Man – another simple question, backed up by what, the fact that he looks like the Finisterra character? This is exactly what propaganda does: it doesn’t censor, it simply relegates debate to a narrow area, usually surrounding petty inquires like how expensive is his house. He doesn’t even need to be a trader to make his points valid.

Posted by graz55 | Report as abusive
 

“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.”

Is a capitalist someone who only wishes to make profits from the stock market going up? Not in my book. Capitalism has been diverted into jumping on stock market band wagons rather than investing in real businesses at the beginning of their life in order to get a return as a share in the profits for taking the financial risk.

How you can say that someone who wants an artificial measure of value (stock price) to fall is the opposite of a die hard capitalist is as silly as saying someone who wishes the stock price to go up is a die hard capitalist. Neither are. To be honest there are very few true capitalists left.

Posted by FifthDecade | Report as abusive
 

This Rastani guy looks nothing like Jacques Servin from The Yes Men. Servin is clearly at least ten years older, and has a different mouth shape and facial bone structure. Jeez, some people have no feel for faces at all.

Also, what he said was not particularly psychotic. His job is to make money, and he’s advising people to protect their wealth by learning a small amount about hedging. This is hardly the kind of thing that the Yes Men do, unless they’re getting EXTREMELY sophisticated and the one solitary element they wanted to put into the interview was the “Goldman Sachs rule the world” comment, surrounded by four minutes of extraneous padding. This would be a radically different change of MO.

Posted by KaitainJones | Report as abusive
 

He’s not Andy Bichlbaum — comparison of the videos make that clear. Difference in shape of chin, different nose, different hairline. Unless Andy Bichlbaum has become 10 years younger in the last 7 years, very unlikely.

As for the content of his statements, they were unsurprising (if uncharacteristically blunt) to me as well, but you’ll find plenty of traders willing to be perfectly blunt. I’ve made a good amount of money on the recession, both in stocks and on the sale of a home; the trick is to understand the psychology of institutional traders and successfully answer the question, “What investments will institutional traders believe to be a safe haven?” Invest in those safe havens, then when your gains hit a reasonable threshold, look for new safe havens and re-evaluate the existing ones.

And, thank you GLD. Almost doubled my money. Damn, we had a good run.

Posted by RickRussellTX | Report as abusive
 

He’s not the Yes Man in the video. That’s a video from seven years ago.

See a side-by-side comparison here. Clearly not the same guy:

http://metabunk.org/threads/265-Debunked -Alessio-Rastani

Posted by MickWest | Report as abusive
 

http://theyesmen.org/
Sure he is!!! No doubt!! Same style like in “Yes Men fix the world” Good..good!

Posted by Ascen | Report as abusive
 

zero chance that is Andy Bichlbaum, unless Bichlbaum underwent massive plastic surgery and got 10 years younger. Is it another yes-man? maybe, but I doubt it. this is must more of the chattering financial elite cover their arses becasue one of the outsiders crashed the club and spilled all their secrets.

Posted by optimatorz | Report as abusive
 

For what it’s worth, I attended a trading seminar given by Mr. Rastani in Europe. He was one of a handful of speakers. Most of the material covered was of the typical variety, focusing on technical analysis and trend following strategies for the Euro Stoxx 50 and the DAX. He did indeed spend a considerable amount of time on strategies that could profit from a sudden break in the market. I had a chance to speak to him for a few minutes afterwards, and he mentioned that he was a long-term bear on the Eurozone. Most of the attendees were private investors, but a there were several hedge fund portfolio managers and bank traders in the audience. So I believe that Mr. Rastani has accurately represented himself.

Posted by PeterNYC552 | Report as abusive
 

Finding another anagram of his name, help out please with this hint:

Misspelled Recession, but same pronounciation “Risession”, leaves us with A L A T A N to create something nice with….?

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive
 

the only reason we care about the man is that the message seems to resonate so clearly with so many. Is the message diminished if he is a yes man?

Posted by Nick_Gogerty | Report as abusive
 

And you bare a resemblance to Stu in ‘hangover’. what’s your point?

It appears to me that your take issue with this guy for being articulate and to the point. You, on the other hand, seem to use 800 words to ramble on about something that can be done in 250

Posted by Jeff62 | Report as abusive
 

Your description of independent traders as people who work at home and for some reason don’t get a “real job” seems a more apt description of the professional blogger….many independent guys are refugees from the prop trading departments of big firms, those who’ve seen how the sausage is made and can’t stomach the artificial slickness of the sales side of the business. Or they are guys that used to be “locals” in the trading pits who moved into computer trading because that’s where the volume is. Pardon us if we are a bit jaded about how Wall Street works.

Posted by tiffinwalla | Report as abusive
 

Looks more like this guy: http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi4 060743449/ :)

Posted by kosmik | Report as abusive
 

Listen I know Alessio Rastani personally and professionally. I was the lead stock market trainer at a London based seminar company in 2006-2008 and let me give the real scoop. This stock market seminar company got a call from the BBC that they needed a trader to go LIVE NOW…Alessio who is a seminar pitch man fielded the call and ran down to the studio to do the gig.

Alessio sells 2K seminars for this company in London, he has learned the terminology in trading over the last 5 years however I have a pretty good idea as an insider he has not made any real money trading. A recession being prayed for is STUPID, first as a trader you don’t want that you want a good bull market, sorry when more win it is best for ALL!. Listen I spent well over 100K on learning to trade and over 16 years and really trade it is NOT easy and can make money but also can lose you money. I do teach seminars for the BIG companies but unlike the majority of speakers I actually trade options.

Alessio is a nice guy and I am sure his statements were more ego and wanting attention as the Telegraph reported, but listen he is a young guy that saw opportunity that is all. His statements were off base and some was right on other parts way off base. He is not a real trader but plays one for money and I am sure many SHEEPLE will sign up for his now Rock Star mentorship and learn how to make no money. He would be on the street if not for selling seminars. For more info see my blog http://vincedowd.com/news/alessio-rastan i-trader-or-pitchman-you-decide/

Posted by adobas | Report as abusive
 

Listen I know Alessio Rastani personally and professionally. I was the lead stock market trainer at a London based seminar company in 2006-2008 and let me give the real scoop. This stock market seminar company got a call from the BBC that they needed a trader to go LIVE NOW…Alessio who is a seminar pitch man fielded the call and ran down to the studio to do the gig.

Alessio sells 2K seminars for this company in London, he has learned the terminology in trading over the last 5 years however I have a pretty good idea as an insider he has not made any real money trading. A recession being prayed for is STUPID, first as a trader you don’t want that you want a good bull market, sorry when more win it is best for ALL!. Listen I spent well over 100K on learning to trade and over 16 years and really trade it is NOT easy and can make money but also can lose you money. I do teach seminars for the BIG companies but unlike the majority of speakers I actually trade options.

Alessio is a nice guy and I am sure his statements were more ego and wanting attention as the Telegraph reported, but listen he is a young guy that saw opportunity that is all. His statements were off base and some was right on other parts way off base. He is not a real trader but plays one for money and I am sure many SHEEPLE will sign up for his now Rock Star mentorship and learn how to make no money. He would be on the street if not for selling seminars. For more info see my blog http://vincedowd.com/news/alessio-rastan i-trader-or-pitchman-you-decide/

Posted by adobas | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •