ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Série de suicides dans le milieu financier
Translated Wednesday 26 February 2014, by
A series of six suicides in a matter of days is beginning to worry the world of finance. When thirtyish traders begin jumping out of windows, the fear of another stock market crash seizes financial circles.
The worst hecatomb has hit JP Morgan, the gigantic U.S. bank whose annual turnover approaches the French GDP. On Feb. 18, a 33-year-old trader leaped from his Hong Kong office. A few days later, no one less than the director of JP Morgan’s trading department took his life. His suicide came on the heels of that of a JP Morgan vice-president at the investment bank’s seat in London.
An officer of the Deutsche Bank used a nail gun to do away with himself in London’s financial center. Two other financiers, including a top executive at the Russell investment bank, also jumped to their deaths.
This series of suicides reminds business circles of another: the series of 11 speculators who killed themselves in the weeks preceding the 1929 stock market crash are a stinging precedent. Do these six suicides herald another stock market crash? The Financial Post is asking the question, and reports that Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and other big banks have sent messages to their young traders inviting them to take a break. However it is impossible to nail down the sector that will trigger the crash. The bankers who did themselves in were top executives, except for the latest, who was a trader on the Forex market, where foreign currencies are exchanged.
Another explanation that has been put forward is that some of the bankers who did away with themselves in London’s City may have been implicated in the Libor scandal. Every morning when the markets open, it is the banking establishments themselves that put their heads together to set interest rates on the interbank lending market. Beginning in 2005, several banks knowingly twisted the rates, both upwards and downwards. Traders who had been forewarned of the direction of the change could speculate accordingly. The fraud took on a new dimension amid the subprime crisis, with the banks manipulating the interest rates in order to conceal their very poor financial state and to refinance themselves at a discount. Today, the judicial system is homing in on these banks little by little, and heavy fines are being imposed.