World

Saturday 26 July 2014

Trader's loss strikes a chord with our own woes

Published 22/11/2012|05:00

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THERE is a fine line between being a star employee and becoming a rogue trader.

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Former UBS dealer Kweku Adoboli became the latest rogue trader to be convicted on Tuesday, following the likes of Nick Leeson, Jerome Kerviel and a host of other dealers we haven't heard about but who have been quietly shown the door at their firms and banned by regulators.

Adoboli's case is instructive. The court acknowledged he hadn't concealed his billion-euro loss for personal gain. Rather, his position got out of control and he panicked.

While Adoboli was caught out by a change in Swiss interest rates, there is a parallel with Ireland during the boom.

How many people here bought a number of houses or signed up for 120pc mortgages – taking a huge position on Irish housing, to use the jargon – and then watched in panic as prices came crashing down?

Unlike Adoboli, people here haven't gone to jail for their errors, and nor should they, but their sentence – chained to a house they can't afford for what seems like forever – has been severe nonetheless. Clearly most of these people weren't consciously taking on risk when they bought these houses but the end result of huge losses and the ruination of lives, however, has been the same as that inflicted on Adoboli.

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