Whilst watching ‘The City Uncovered with Evan Davis: Tricks with Risk’ I was struck by the words of Nick Leeson; the man who broke Barings bank. He said “I tried big bets using futures and options…I believed that one day I would be able to resolve the situation and move on from it. There’s a degree of stubbornness and compulsion…it’s the human element, more often than not, needs to be controlled.” His story ended when Barings bank thought he had lost over £2 million of their money, but this later ballooned to a figure of £208 million.
Nick Leeson is right that the economy and psychology are linked. So if Gordon Brown also has a tendency for stubbornness and compulsion, then maybe we should be very afraid. His first £37 billion bail out has been quickly followed by a second bigger bail out. Yet, all of this money has been spent, without knowing the depth of toxic debts on the balance books. It seems betting on futures and options is a risky business – but I don’t want Gordon Brown betting my options, or my children's future away.