Tuesday, January 29, 2008

They Are a Funny Race

Stand aside, Mr Lewis, there's a new Jerry in vogue:
Many in France, where suspicion of globalisation and financial markets runs deep, have found a new hero in a young man who subverted the system and allegedly lost his bank five billion euros.

For Societe Generale bank, trader Jerome Kerviel is a "crook, fraudster and terrorist" but for many here Kerviel is a scapegoat whose action has exposed what they see as the outrageous greed of global finance.

"He is the product of a system that pushes people into taking huge risks in the pursuit of huge profits," said 29-year-old office worker Marie Fournier.

"All he did was get carried away by that system and take it to extremes. He may well have done us all a service by reminding us what goes on," she said as she took a walk in central Paris during her lunchbreak.

....The French Communist Party went as far as comparing Kerviel to Alfred Dreyfus, the Jewish army captain whose dismissal more than a century ago on trumped-up charges of spying triggered a protracted national crisis.

Dominique Moisi of the French Institute of International Relations said Kerviel has become a hero for some because of "the feeling (in France) that the very rich are always getting their way and that relatively modest agents are used as scapegoats."

"But of course this is something you could expect in a country where part of the left and a large section of the population is still anti-globalisation and anti-capitalism," he told AFP.

.... Kerviel, a seemingly unremarkable young man who has now entered the annals of financial history, has also become a cyberspace star, with a burgeoning cult on the Facebook social networking site and numerous websites dedicated to him.

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