Apparently, if provided with the right kind of parenting, children who might have grown up to become psychopaths can instead become successful stock market traders. What seems unclear is whether this would make society as a whole any safer.
Chris Barth writes:
The hubbub is just starting to pick up after NZZ Online’s report yesterday on a University of St. Gallen study that shows stock market traders display similarities to certified psychopaths. The study, authored by MBA students Pascal Scherrer and Thomas Noll, compares decisions made by 27 equity, derivative and forex traders in a computer simulation against an existing study of 24 psychopaths in high-security hospitals in Germany. Not only do the traders match their counterparts, but, as Der Speigel succinctly puts it, the “stockbrokers’ behavior is more reckless and manipulative than that of psychopaths.”
The traders, according to Noll, were fixated on gaining more than their competitors in the computer simulation – to the extent that they “spent a lot of energy trying to damage their opponents.” He compared the behavior to bashing a neighbor’s fancy car with a baseball bat in order to make your own car the nicest in the neighborhood.
This is fascinating stuff, but it’s not entirely new. In 2004, New Scientist compared ladder-climbing corporate employees to psychopaths for their shared characteristics of lacking empathy and compassion while thriving under stress. In 2005, Antoine Bechara, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Iowa, told the Wall Street Journal, “It’s possible that people who are high-risk takers or good investors may have what you call a functional psychopathy.” In 1996, Jason Bennetto, a crime correspondent for The Independent, noted that “stockbrokers share many of the same characteristics as criminal psychopaths.” That same year, a Scottish University found that “with the right parenting [psychopaths] can become successful stockbrokers instead of serial killers.”
In an interview on the BBC, Alessio Rastani, a stock market and forex trader in Europe, provided a glimpse inside the minds of those who see golden opportunities in the misfortune of others.
Rastani says the stock market is “toast” and to those who imagine that collective government action will prevent another recession he says: “the governments don’t rule the world. Goldman Sachs rules the world.”