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Maverick trader: Was what he said actually right?

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Media captionAlessio Rastani predicted that the savings of many would be wiped out

Financial trader Alessio Rastani raised eyebrows after making extraordinarily candid remarks about his feelings on the financial crisis. But are his views commonly held?

Rastani, who describes himself as "an experienced stock market and forex trader and professional speaker" told viewers he had been looking forward to a recession in order to profit from it.

"I dream of another moment like this," said Rastani, adding: "Anybody can actually make money. It's an opportunity."

More revelations included the apparently widespread conviction in the City that the euro was doomed, that any rescue plan by European governments was "toast" and that it was financial institutions like Goldman Sachs - rather than elected governments - who "ruled the world".

And he issued a grim warning of a coming financial meltdown that would strip millions of their savings.

But how much of this should we take seriously?

Geraint Anderson, a former City analyst, "Cityboy" columnist, and author of Just Business, gives his take, as does Julia Finch, business editor of the Guardian and Observer newspapers.

Rastani said: "I dream of a recession"

Rastani's assertion that it was possible for savvy traders like himself to make money out of a falling market was the quote many news outlets chose to headline their accounts of his interview.

However, in asserting that one person's pain was another's gain Rastani was merely being "unusually honest," says Anderson.

"The city is full of ruthless, clever people whose only ambition is to line their pockets with no idea of the negative implications for other people.

"My only surprise about what he said was that he broke the unspoken consensus in the City not to talk about it so frankly."

Finch also admits that Rastani's view may be shared by others in the City.

"Umbrella sellers pray for rain. Ice cream sellers pray for hot weather.

"Some City traders will be praying for a recession, but only those who have no regard for the wider world around them".

Rastani said: "The big funds don't buy the euro rescue plan"

Rastani suggested big City firms had no faith in the the efforts of European leaders to provide long term stability for the single currency.

Anderson says: "This is a brash assertion. If the big funds really did believe that, they would be investing a lot more in cash and bonds."

And Finch says it is not absolutely clear what form the euro rescue plan will take. "There's certainly not one that the German government will accept," she says.

"But there does seem to be increased hope that there will be agreement. The next six weeks, up to the G20 meeting in Cannes, will be vital."

Rastani said: "The euro is going to crash"

Rastani said the City had already given up on the euro, despite continuing efforts to implement a rescue plan for Greece, the economy at the heart of the problems.

But, says Anderson: "If everyone in the City did believe the euro is doomed, then it would now be 10-20% lower against other world currencies."

Finch suggests the euro project is being tested to its very limits, but every possible effort will be made to ensure its future.

"If the euro falls apart the repercussions in Europe and beyond will be vast."

Rastani said: "Anybody can make money from a recession"

Even if shares are in free-fall, said Mr Rastani, it is possible for canny investors to make a killing - as some did in the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Anderson says: "Yes, it is possible to make money in a recession - but generally only if you have cash up front.

"You can use spread betting, you can invest in things like gold, you can sell short. But you need a lot of cash, and I would say 99% of people lose money in a recession."

Finch agrees - up to a point. "There will always be opportunities to make money in a recession. The seeds of fortunes are often sown in economic hard times.

"But try telling a family with a mortgage and children who find themselves out of work that 'anybody can make money from a recession'. Try telling the near one million young people without work or training."

Rastani said: "The savings of millions of people is going to vanish"

Rastani painted a bleak picture of banks failing - taking people's life savings with them - as a recession took hold.

Anderson says: "This is scaremongering, doom-mongering nonsense.

"Even if the banks were to collapse, the government still guarantees people's savings up to a certain amount."

The UK government currently guarantees up to £85,000 of personal savings.

"And considering the average British person has less than £8,000 saved in an individual savings account, people are hardly going to be wiped out if there is a crash," Anderson notes.

Finch says: "Even in the 2008 crisis, when Icelandic banks were collapsing, there were no losses as the UK government stepped in to make sure people's savings were safe."

Rastani said: "Governments don't rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world"

Rastani underlined the power of international financial institutions to control global markets, and painted a picture of nation-states powerless to affect the flow of capital across their borders.

Anderson says: "This is very simplistic. It's not just Goldman Sachs who affects the market. Ben Bernanke [chairman of the US Federal Reserve] affects the markets when he sets US interest rates. The Chinese economy affects the market, as does global instability

"However, there is the classic phrase 'you cannot buck the market' and it is true to say that governments can be shown to be relatively powerless if they try and take on the financial institutions - as the UK did in 1992 with its failed attempt to stay in the European Exchange Mechanism.

"I would say there are lots of pieces of the puzzle that make up the global market. Some are bigger than others, but they all have a role."

But many commentators have noted the power of some of the big finance houses.

"Goldman Sachs has probably been allowed to have too much influence in the past, with many of its former top bankers once in the highest echelons of the US Treasury and administration," says Finch.

"But there's too much conspiracy theory about Goldman Sachs".

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