Trader in French Bank Debacle a New Folk Icon
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
French banks are circling their wounded competitor Societe Generale. They're eyeing it for a possible purchase. Societe Generale is still convulsing from revelations that a rogue trader made secret trades that cost the bank more than $7 billion and the head of the bank is barely managing to hold on his job this week.
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
But on the Internet, he has a very different reputation as Eleanor Beardsley reports from Paris.
ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: John Ayne(ph), an American who run a financial company in Paris, says he's not surprised by the outpouring of bonhomie for Kerviel.
MONTAGNE: There's a high degree of suspicion towards business from, you know, the French public generally. You can see, in that context, why people might glorify someone that, you know, causes harm to a big financial institution.
BEARDSLEY: Societe Generale is attempting to portray the traitor as a sort of evil genius and computer whiz kid who bilked the bank and the French people. But on the Internet, the story of a low-level trader bringing an arrogant French bank to its knees is a glorious occasion to lampoon the pretensions of the financial world, including France's pro-business President Nicolas Sarkozy.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LE FREAK")
LE CHIC: (Singing) Aaaahh, freak out. Le freak, c'est chic.
BEARDSLEY: Dozens of videos on YouTube and Daily Motions satirize the saga. One video shows a string of catastrophes. The narrator says: Tsunamis, plane crashes, whatever your problems, you can now blame them on Jerome Kerviel.
U: Jerome Kerviel (speaking in foreign language)
BEARDSLEY: For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.
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