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Financial crisis: don’t blame it on the Charlie

Among several strange press releases received by Euromoney this month, one stood out. It posed the important question: “Can cocaine really be to blame for the recent financial crisis?” The release, put out by the soppily named Love PR, is a response to controversial Imperial College professor David Nutt’s recent assertion that cocaine use makes bankers “overconfident”, leading them to take greater and unnecessary risks. Now, we’re no experts, but anecdotal evidence suggests this is indeed the case.

However, Alastair Mordey, programme director for The Cabin Chiang Mai, a prominent addiction treatment centre based in Asia, finds the neuropsychopharmacology professor’s claims tenuous and over-generalized at best.


He believes that some people with the disease of addiction are drawn to highly competitive environments where acquiring status, power and money are normal. Mordey comments: “Drug users use drugs because they have dysfunctional brain circuitry and are therefore drawn to excessive over-achieving, ultra-competitive environments, risk taking, and drug use. These people are likely to be over-represented in professions such as banking, but also in many other professions, including medicine and the armed forces, the arts and so on.”

So presumably, if the financial crisis can be blamed on high-as-a-kite bankers up to their eyeballs on nose candy, rather than decades of excess, an over-reliance on credit and bad management, we also know now what is responsible for unsuccessful medical and military operations and rubbish paintings.

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