The financial brain of the London City – Docu – 2013

This is the current culture. The world is in the hands
of 25-year-olds. You’re dealing with a subspecies
of humanity… …that is currently shaping our lives
based on an incorrect world view. I’m not drinking this. All I see coming out is white. I watched your entire session.
Which commission is this exactly? It’s a subpanel of the Commission
on Standards in Banking. They’re hearing a number of
senior banking people… …and a number of experts.
They’re quite tough with all of them. And then there’s some people
they hear to ease the tension. I felt quite good there. I sent an interview I’d done
to my interviewee. In reply he wrote
that his wife had read it… …and she said: I finally understand
what you do. He’d been a banker for 20 years.
They’d been married for 20 years. So far he had not managed to explain
what he did there in his big glass office. So that’s weird. It’s really unbelievable. If you want to know about
recent gender studies in Gaza… …you find ten papers easily. If you look into hedge fund managers,
you get really abstract descriptions… …of how some economics professor
thinks they should work. But almost nothing about people who
actually spend time on the shop floor. We know more about ancient Egypt
than about the people… …who currently shape our lives. We have some extracts here. This is how bankers are characterised. If there’s one thing I learned
in the past 18 months… …it’s that this system
really only has losers. We should regard the bankers
as losers too. They are the best-paid losers,
but in exchange for all that money… …they lead miserable lives
in a horrible environment. So this lady saying she wants to be
a banker in her next life… …really hasn’t understood
what a horrible environment it is. So I think we have to start
pampering them. If we’re angry, they’ll think
they have something that we want. They need that ‘envy’
to keep up their self-image. Take Lloyd Blankfein.
He thinks he’s doing the work of God. He oozes this self-image:
Everyone wants to be me. I see people who suffer from stress. This one is a cool customer.
But regular traders like these guys… …are simply boys and girls
chasing after a promise. They dream of the good life, like we all
do. You can’t hold that against them. But you’re interested
in the bankers’ brains. I am Peter Sioen, a psychologist. I’ve coached managers in
the City of London for eight years. Particularly managers who want to
improve, but are lost in the rat race. We’re learning so much
about the brain now. It’s a scientific new frontier
we’re exploring. Every week brings new discoveries
and new knowledge. We’re finding that it is all about
neurotransmitters and hormones… …and chemicals in the brain. We’ve learned how greed affects
the brains of some people. A test of power
will trigger certain hormones… …and make them even greedier
than before. We’re clear on those
brain processes now. There’s a lot of research
into psychopathology. It has been proved
through questionnaires… …that there’s a number of psychopaths
among top financial managers… …showing the same characteristics
as psychopaths in prison. Based on these pictures I can’t say
what goes on in their heads. That would be a mistake. Faces are the last place
where I would look. But young people who are always told:
you’re the best… …will obviously become arrogant. Particularly if you give them
shiploads of money. Their testosterone levels are high. This is the current culture. The world is in the hands
of 25-year-olds. On a personal note
I make this comparison: I’ve worked with victims of paedophilia
and with heroin addicts. Even in those with a limited IQ… …when they look for their next victim
or shot, the brains takes over… …and something happens that makes
these people smarter and sharper. With regard to criminals and
psychopaths in the business world: I think it’s nature rather than nurture. Banks in particular
have certainly played that game… …by attracting psychopathic individuals
to get bigger profits. It’s not true that the financial sector
is dominated by psychopaths. But it is true that psychopaths,
or people who have no conscience… …are tolerated there, and even
celebrated when they bring in a fortune. So it helps to have no scruples. A Goldman Sachs employee
described it in a book: They create an overcomplicated product
that seems safer than it is. The lawyers draw up
a sort of guarantee… …that is no guarantee at all
but looks good in court. Then they call charities and say:
Listen, you invested this much… …but the risk is high
if the interest rates change. We have a new product
to cover the risk. Then the so-called muppet on the
other end says: That sounds good. It could be an American charity
or a Dutch housing corporation. They’ll speak to the treasurer
or whoever deals with the money. But these financial products are
so sophisticated and advanced… …that only a few people
can understand them. And those who do
are snapped up by the banks. What a great formula. It reminds you of maths,
which you hated and were lousy at. This is how this guy takes revenge. He was good at maths
and got bullied because of it. And now he’s the man. Theoretically, people in the financial
sector are all rational beings… …who do transactions
purely out of self-interest. So you don’t need a culture.
It’s just mechanical exchanges. You draw up models,
you work out the risk factor. In theory the whole sector
can be regarded as a machine. In practice, 2008 proved the opposite. But science lags behind
and still hasn’t investigated… …how that sector works exactly, as
opposed to how they say they work. Mathematical genius is often found
in people with Asperger’s. Many of the models used for creating
complex financial products… …were made by people with Asperger’s. It’s one of the most fascinating groups
in today’s society: Mathematical geniuses with Asperger’s. I watched them at a conference once. They were exactly like
the financial model builders. Model builders talk about the temptation
to live exclusively in numbers. One said: When I see ducks
flying by my office window… …I calculate which duck
will get there first… …if the wind blows in from angle A
at speed B. It’s so tempting to do nothing all day
but make calculations like that. These people live in a different world.
They literally say: ‘If I had lived 100 or 200 years ago,
they would have burned me at the stake.’ ‘I would have been no good to society.’ But now there’s Big Data in Google
and models in banking. There’s a brief moment when they can
do something the whole world wants. And they make
astonishing amounts of money. The point is: Asperger people
have trouble lying. They make models based exclusively
on reality as they perceive it. If you can’t perceive lies and deceit… …and people’s tendency to operate
in an irrational way… …then you can’t model them either. All the models involved
in the financial crisis were flawed… …because people lied
about their mortgages. People took out loans that they knew
they would never pay off. Mathematical geniuses
with light Asperger’s tell me… …that they can’t conceive of this
because it’s irrational. You’re dealing with a subspecies
of humanity… …that is currently shaping our lives
based on an incorrect world view. Something happens in the brain
that makes you… …work out everything
to your own advantage. You think you and your team are great
and the others just don’t get it. There are unacceptable risks. One
trader is doing 7 years for taking them. But the crisis of 2008 was more
about a very grey situation… …in which many questions should
have been asked, but weren’t. Not of the teams, or any of the banks,
or the supervisory authorities… …or the rating agencies,
the accountants, the lawyers. Meanwhile, everyone was getting
rich on these unasked questions. That is much more threatening… …than a bunch of creeps thinking up
things for which we are now paying. Instead we’re faced
with a continuous process… …that is incredibly difficult
to figure out… …and all the incentives are such
that people will keep doing it. That’s much scarier.
It’s too optimistic to think… …it was just a conspiracy.
It is a disaster. I talked to the losers who fell
off the pyramid on the way up. Some of them were kicked out
and lost what they had. Some are winners that made it, but
in their mid-40s suddenly thought: My God, I’ve barely seen my children,
I hardly know my wife… …I’m a drinker and
I think in transactions 24/7. With everything I do, I figure out
if it makes me a winner or a loser. I am a wreck. About your current clients. How are they? Not great. Not great. There’s a restaurant in a City building,
on the sixth floor. Every other month
a depressed banker jumps off there. It’s a prime spot.
Times are bad. There still are restaurants
where the partying continues… …if you know where to look. Bankers used to party in restaurants
with big open windows… …so everyone could see them
drinking champagne. Now they party in places
you can’t see into. That’s a great metaphor. But still, people are sad and afraid. One of the traders is currently on trial. He caused the firm he worked for
to lose billions. Now he’s the scapegoat.
He broke the rules, but he says: Everyone broke the rules.
This was my family. Boys were taken from their home towns
and brought into the banking world. Together with other guys their age
who were about as smart… …they broke all the rules
and made billions as a team. Now the fall guy is crying in court:
These guys were my family. The idea of democracy was
that people would decide together… …what kind of country they wanted. We’re now finding out that an essential
part of that power is gone. It has run off into the hands
of people we don’t understand… …who have no loyalty whatsoever
towards us and who juggle numbers… …in a very uncertain situation
for them as individuals… …while as an industry
they are immovable. These are the people we obey. The solutions offered to Europe
by analysts in the financial sector… …are about running Europe more
like a business bank. Easier sacking, fewer rights,
fewer relationships based on trust… …and more based on conflict
and competition. They’re making good headway. This work hasn’t exactly made you
more optimistic. Does it show?
No, it really hasn’t. 18-year-olds read my blog and write: Thank you for showing me
how to make it in business banking.

67 thoughts on “The financial brain of the London City – Docu – 2013

  • Hello everyone, We hope you are enjoying tonight’s documentary and that you make good use of the subtitles (click on the captions button for the subtitles to show).
    We are curious what your thoughts are about these masters of the financial world: tell us everything!
     Next Sunday, we will publish a documentary called: The objectivity of the Arab media. What is the role of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya news broadcasters in recent revolutions in the Arab world? And how independent is their coverage actually, given their funders?
    Hope to see you Sunday for more VPRO Backlight

  • Vpro could profit a lot more by doing a documentary about high-tech company Imec and Roger van Overstraeten in Leuven than focusing on these parasitical people from the City who just blow up world economies.

  • My favourite theme of content from VPRO loved it. like always your works are the best in this category as far as I know in comparison to others.
    In the earlier series we got to understand and got a rare peek into the technology which comprises and influence our financial system and got to know it's architects (quants the alchemist of wall street, money and speed) and now we get a rare glimpse into the minds of actual decision makers in the financial markets. This just complets the whole series and concludes it along with the earlier one which discussed the aftermath of the crisis caused. It's time humanity restructure or reorganize finance to bring stability and reduce inequality in today's economies which are suffering from having huge wealth disparity amongst people and creating divisions in our society.

  • 29:35 No, you are a lying psychopath. You created these 'products' knowing they were crap and then you lied to customers to make them 'keen'.

  • Wow, what a great insight into this strange world. What surprises me even more is how in the end apparently everyone is so affected by this, except for one – Terri Duhon, who seems to be the most oblivious person in the world. Truly incredible and sad. It's insane how we allow people who function in this nontransparent, closed off world to make such important decisions about the financial world. The end people to be blame is of course the lawmakers, since people will always go to the extent where the law allows it and if there is no supervision they will of course abuse that fact. Having watched all of the banking documentaries that you guys produced, this is a great addition! It also shows the difference between these strict mathematicians who create the financial instruments and everyone else who uses them and how oblivious to their effects the end clients are. Excellent work again, vpro!

  • Thank you, VPRO, for these amazing documentaries, some of the most insightful ones on financial world I've seen.

    For those interested:
    * "The Wall Street Code" –
    * "Quants – The Alchemists of Wall Street" –
    * "Money & Speed: Inside the Black Box" –

  • Such a good doco, There is a bunch of interesting ideas here, The derivatives crisis being predated by asburgers (like the women who worked at j.p morgan and has no regrets) who could only see variables and not that the people who were sold these products wouldn't pay there mortgages because it's "irrational".

    That traders have a hard time psychologically changing when the move from a bull to a bear market happens and that these bankers aren't really living great lives, that there identity has some foundation in the envy we feel(and probably the superficial relationships that grow because of that money).

    I have to watch it again sometime to fully take it in but these are the people who water the garden of the economy, and they're a mess! but then again who isn't.

  • Screw central banks, 2007-09 crash will look like a walk in the park. The system hasn't learnt anything, metrics have gotten even worse than the subprime bubble of 2007 that started it all.

    Buy crypto, be your own bank. 10:12 the very definition of a devil incarnate.

    Great work, as always, vpro!

  • the general ignorance over how banking and our financial systems work, is institutionally enforced by a community of universities giving economic classes with the single purpose of obfuscating a few very very simple truths, they stay afloat by causing ignorance, economists are not scientists, they are magicians and the people of the world fall for their sophisticated tricks. that's all folks, you heard it here first.

  • Terri Duhon says I was drawn to the "energy" of the trading floor, which is just a ephamism for MONEY. I don't mean to single her out but she comes across as a complete sociopath. I have worked as a researcher at a few universities and I always CRINGE when I hear people say things like "we need scientists and engineers to run the world." That is my idea of a complete dystopia because so many of these people have autisitc traits, complete tunnel vision and most frighteningly a COMPLETE lack of human empathy, there is a reason many of these people are "socially awkward" it's because they believe that being able to solve advanced maths problems makes them superior beings. It's no surprise that most of these people end up working for banks making toxic financial instruments, legalized fraud or end up working in the defense industry where they can use their super brains to work out how to kill as many people as possible.

  • The world's greatest scammers, literally stealing the entire financial world blind for greed!

  • That woman has some serious problem accepting her responsibility for selling banking trash; should visit a shrink before she gets more loony, I'll say….

  • so are crypto currencies the answer? If it takes the might away from bankers, who will always screw the real workers who are busy making things, designing things, and providing a service we all really need (trash collectors, nurses, carers, cleaners, doctors etc.), then we distribute fairly, and megalomania cannot drive ordinary honest people into the ground anymore.

  • Por qué no conocia este canal antes. Son ejemplos de investigación. No las basuras que se ven en mi pais. Saludos desde Ecuador.

  • Those responsible are bigger, much bigger, than these gimps.
    They're like our PMs and Presidents – something for the plebs to point at.

    The crash was well organised.

  • Talking like a Dutch Uncle is becoming "salon fahig?". Yes, very nicely done. What about the spiritual aspects behind the madness? The personal stories of why any person can turn into a "number crunching madman, destroying years of hard work in the real world by simply pushing a few buttons", and how we can help those "successful bankers" back into a sustainable and responsible human society and loving and caring human interaction.

  • Een kat in het nauw maakt rare sprongen… The last tremors of the finally collapsing Holy Roman empire? Or are we missing the bigger picture?

  • Trash business requires trash salesmen and trash buyers, don't you think?
    This was a very good documentary on the trash salesmen.
    Why is it we've never seen anything like this on the trash buyers?
    A salesman is nothing without a buyer.
    The buyers were the real villains, but no one seems to be interested in this group of people that got away with the poor excuse of being "poor victims".

  • Maggie in actioN! she left this dirty legacy behind . Big bang and deregulation can give you only this. Financial fraud, crime, cheating, gambling and moral hazard = Market failure.

  • I remember when I was a child all the documentaries made for english speaking people were able to be understood by the english speaking people. Now the documentaries have a ton of people sounding like a mess when they attempt to speak English or a bunch of different languages with words at the bottom. Why the fuck not save money by writing a book instead of pretending to record a documentary.

  • One problem with all this talk of one sided disaster , you forget to mention WHO MADE ALL THE MONEY , OR TOOK THE MONEY OTHER PEOPLE LOST. It's simply transferred into different pockets. That's the idea. Get it ?

  • Please expand who is stealing from pension funds and how are they doing it? That part was interesting. The part of the documentary where a math nerd and a trading programmer are basking in their greatness made the doc boring and didn't show us anything new.
    Get into what caused the flash crash. Was it a deliberate attack?

  • Btw that guy talking about testosterone was full of crap. Non of those bloated pasty fat men in suits had any high testosterone levels…they were all betas.

  • A very long time ago I resorted to changing the word bankers to wankers. Thanks for a thought provoking documentary

  • Warren Buffet is one to speak. Insider trading and ruthless. He crushes his competition by buying politicians to change laws. See Solar City Nevada project demise.

  • Google seems to be limiting the reading of the full comments on this very thorough and brilliant documentary

  • One of my mates who worked in the city, never took drugs, but inhaled girls farts directly from there bum hole……………He got addicted and killed himself. NO JOKE.

  • So glad I found this channel, I've watched 3 of your docs so far and they are FANTASTIC! Please keep 'em coming.

  • I switched off when it said "the financial heart of ghe world economy, based in London" yeah right Britts keep dreaming

  • Excellent. The biological and neurological explanations of irrational risk-taking make sense. The addictive qualities of greed, like any other sin, lead to a lot of pain for the individual and those they harm . So much of this socially destructive behavior is because the players risk other people's money…lots of private profits if they win, big social losses on others if they lose. Their minor consequence is to lose their job. Very thorough and well-done. My suggestion to editors: lose the buzzing sound when interviewees' names come up with the orange rectangle. It's annoying. Otherwise, very well done.

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  • Who decided to put subtitles in white on a white background? Another drone that doesn't want the public educated?

  • Idiots or swindlers those who promoters bitcoin. How if Satoshi Nakamoto was the CIA, the KGP or any other intelligence agency which owns now 1/20 of all bitcoins and would become the dominant financial force in the whole world without any merit if bitcoins is widely adopted. The solution is creating a similar crypto currency without all the flaws, secrecy, and the exploitation embedded in it. After all, it there are secrets, then something is not right.

  • 5:30 into the documentary. This guy doesn't understan shit… only emotions based on the lack of understanding of finacial systems of the modern economies.

  • Sad USA and most countries are lying stealing murdering for profit business run by the CROWN inside city of London they have armies of bankers lawyers accountants stealing from the world without permission

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