Let’s Go to the Movies: Week of November 21, 2022: Rogue Trader

Rogue Trader (1998) trailer

Rogue Trader (1998) trailer

Watching the collapse of the FTX Crypto Exchange in real time, we have a historic movie selection for you this week—Rogue Trader.

This is the story—based on real events—of Nick Leeson, a young upstart and ambitious investment broker, who is set up to play the “lone trader” (the financial coup version of the “lone gunman”) in the demise of one of the most significant banks of the United Kingdom, Barings Bank.

Nick is hugely successful, making big profits for the bank, but secretly breaks the trading rules and covers up the mistakes and losses from bad trades made by himself and others. Yet, he is given free reign, and uses one of Baring’s error accounts to cover up the ever-increasing losses that eventually lead to the demise of the bank. When the losses finally appear, they explode into inconceivable amounts as someone or something consolidates billions of additional losses into the situation for Nick to take the fall for single-handedly engineering the impossible.

Some of the analogies to the current crypto scandal are apparent. We are seeing a similar presentation unfolding around Sam Bankman-Fried, who is being demoted from crypto whiz-kid to fraudster and defined as the sole party responsible for the destruction of the FTX trading platform. Once again, the “lone trader” plays a role in a far more significant and complex “op.”

The Nick Leeson story portrayed in Rogue Trader has an additional interesting side note: It was the great Kobe Hanshin earthquake of 1995 that completely plunged the Asian markets and thus Nick Leeson’s trading bets that he was hoping would bail him out. That earthquake was the very first in Japan officially measured at the highest level of seismic intensity according to the scale of the Japan Meteorological Agency.

To our knowledge, Rogue Trader can be watched (unfortunately only) on Amazon.com. If you can find other sources for streaming, please post in the comments section and we will update the commentary accordingly.


Nick Leeson’s website

Documentary: £830,000,000 – Nick Leeson and the Fall of the House of Barings

Nick Leeson on Wikipedia

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