The Blog

'I Don't Have to Prove Anything to Anybody' - Alessio Rastani

First things first, I ask Alessio Rastani. In light of the latest economic news, and bearing in mind what you said on the BBC last year about going to bed every night dreaming of another recession, how are you feeling?

First things first, I ask Alessio Rastani. In light of the latest economic news, and bearing in mind what you said on the BBC last year about going to bed every night dreaming of another recession, how are you feeling?

"There's a known joke amongst traders that no two economists ever agree about the economy," he replies. "A lot of the time economists get it completely wrong. The economy lags behind the stock market, and the American stock market has been up tremendously since January. Apple has doubled in value since then. There are a lot of economic factors that don't agree that we're in a recession, and I don't think we are in a recession - I think this is the beginning of an asset bubble which is going to take us into a huge stock market rally."

One can assume with some confidence that Rastani knows what he's talking about - he's been in the trading industry since 2003, after all - and, although you may not instantly recognise his name, it is highly likely that you will have heard of him.

In September 2011, Rastani appeared in an interview on the BBC to discuss the Eurozone crisis. It was meant to be a run-of-the-mill interview, a snippet of commentary from an expert in the field of finance: but, when Rastani confidently stated that "governments don't rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world" and "when I go to bed every night, I dream of another recession", he became an overnight sensation. Newspapers stumbled over one another to find out more about him. One minute Rastani was on television, the next he was taking phone calls from around the world requesting an interview. I ask Rastani about the days following his appearance.

"I'll be honest with you," he says, "it was a mixture. But it was mostly good stuff; I got a lot of positive feedback. I was overwhelmed by how many people actually agreed with me. Some people were saying 'Why is this guy gloating about a recession?', but the majority of people came up to me and thanked me for being honest. My Facebook page exploded from 600 members - it's now around 13,000. I had David Frost, Piers Morgan and all these guys who wanted to speak to me.

"But there were a lot of people out there who were intensely jealous, and in my view there were some newspapers with an agenda to basically discredit me, and published a lot of false stuff about me. One paper wrote 'this guy isn't a real trader because he doesn't have a plush office in canary wharf'. What these guys don't understand is that those so-called traders in canary wharf are the very reason we have an economic crisis. Secondly, I never wanted to be one of those guys because you're earning someone else's salary, and basically you're another schmuck who is working for one of these big giant corporations."

Rastani is at pains to emphasise that he is not a fat-cat banker, but that he trades with his own money to support his own lifestyle. He admits that, following the interview, the public perceived him as "the same as any other trader out there, making money from people's misery", but refers to himself as "humble, and not one of those jerks out there who are responsible for the economic mess we're in."

It may come as a pleasant surprise, then, to discover that Rastani's views on the colossal bonuses awarded to top bankers reflect those held by the general public. "These guys are the reason we got into a recession," he explains. "We saved them, and they profited from it. The only reason they even exist is because of us, so for them to think that they deserve a bonus and a reward for what they do is quite rich, in my opinion. There are soldiers out there putting their lives on the line every single day, but they're not getting a bonus. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that giving a bonus to a banker is completely ignorant and wrong."

Rastani first entered the world of stock market trading in the 1990s, describing himself as "a muppet, a donkey: someone who makes mistakes". He suffered during the 'dotcom crash' - "a huge learning curve for me" - and from thereon vowed that he would never make the same mistake again. At his own expense, he hired mentors and teachers to tell him how to trade intelligently.

"Most people don't learn how to trade properly. Going to seminars and reading books about trading doesn't help that much. If you want to play a sport, for example, there's a difference between playing it and reading a book about it. You need someone to show you how to do it, and it's the same with trading."

A few years ago Rastani created leadingtrader.com, a website where aspiring and current traders can find resources and help on how to improve their skills - and, ultimately, profit. He and his colleagues host webinars, where they show stock market students how to make the best decisions. Since Rastani appeared on the BBC the number of subscribers has increased; and he makes no attempt to hide the fact that the sensation which surrounded him just over six months ago has had a lasting beneficial impact on his career. He also has no regrets about his appearance on the BBC, and chuckles at the widespread attention it received.

"A Spanish television channel called me, saying: 'Hey, did you know you've pissed off the Finance Minister of Spain because you said that Goldman Sachs rules the world?' The funny thing is, about a month after I said all this, suddenly we heard that Mario Monti, an international adviser for Goldman Sachs, had become Prime Minister of Italy, and another guy from Goldman Sachs (Lucas Papdemos) became the head of Greece...in my opinion, pretty much everything I said has been vindicated. I don't feel like I have to prove anything to anybody. I have a lot of supporters out there."

It is Rastani's firm belief that everybody should look into trading as another source of income: but his advice comes with a stark warning: "I would advise against picking up trading to replace their primary income, because people underestimate the risks involved. People come to it with the mindset to get rich quick, and as a friend of mine says: 'The fastest way to go broke is to try to get rich quick'. I know a doctor who mortgaged one of his homes without telling his wife; he had a quarter of a million pounds, and lost it all in three months. Of course," he adds, "he got divorced eventually. So, if you're thinking of stepping into trading to replace an income quickly, forget it. The odds of anybody making money in trading is about ten percent."

Rastani, then, is a man who was once at the centre of a media storm; but now the dust has settled, he is able to pass on the tricks of his trade to an audience widened by the sensation he caused. "Invest in yourself," he says, to those who have a small amount of savings. "You've got to have multiple streams of income, so improve your education, and then invest your money in the right way. I don't care what economists are saying; I look at what the markets are saying, and the markets are up. I wouldn't be scared right now - I would be buying stocks right now."