Interest Rate Roundup

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The "Rogue Trader" strikes again

Ah, the "Rogue Trader." The mythical character who manages to rack up gigantic losses somewhere deep in the bowels of a global bank, then tries to hide them, but ultimately is discovered and sacked. It has happened before and it'll happen again.

But the news out of France from Societe Generale today is simply astounding. It looks like some trader in this 30s, who made less than $150,000 a year, managed to rack up $7.2 billion in losses on stock index futures. That wiped out almost two years of pre-tax profit in the firm's investment banking unit.

The news would be almost hilarious ... if it weren't so terrifying. These are the same titans of global finance who are managing credit default swaps with a notional, or face, value of almost $43 trillion (Global GDP, by the way, was just over $48 trillion in 2006). Yet they can't detect one rogue trader's billions of dollars in losses until it's too late? Talk about a confidence builder.


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