Britain’s financial regulator disclosed on Tuesday that Steven Noel Perkins, a former oil futures broker, single-handedly engineered a jump in the price of oil a year ago and cost his firm millions of dollars with a string of unauthorized trades after a weekend of heavy drinking.
Mr. Perkins had just returned from a liquor-soaked golf weekend with colleagues in June of last year when he sat down in front of his laptop at his home east of London and started to place bets on Brent crude futures, according to a report by the Financial Services Authority. He continued to drink and place bets through the night, and by the morning of June 30, Mr. Perkins had placed more than $520 million worth of trades, at one point pushing the price of oil to $73.05, an eight-month high. The trades by Mr. Perkins were the main reason the price gained about $1.65 a barrel in just over two hours in the middle of the night, according to the report.
“Mr. Perkins’s explanation for his trading on 29 and 30 June is that he was drunk,” the F.S.A. said. “He claims to have limited recollection of events on Monday and claims to have been in an alcohol-induced blackout at the time he traded.”
Hmm, yeah, ya know my party days are well behind me but I’m going to guess there were other substances involved besides alcohol. But regardless, why the hell are these young rock star traders allowed to play around on their laptops and drive up the price of oil in a booze-fueled binge? I mean, I don’t know how they do things in Britain--maybe it’s the same way they do things here--but this can really happen? One guy can do this? What if an oil company or foreign government paid someone to do this? Sounds like a plot for a summer blockbuster, I know. But truth is stranger than fiction.
If this story illustrates anything it’s the casino mentality of these traders. It’s just a game. The money isn’t real and a spike in oil prices has no consequences in the real world.