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Play now 18 mins

Trading floor biology

Duration:
18 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 23 November 2012

Who’s to blame when a trader loses his bank billions of dollars? Is his reckless behaviour responsible or is it the bank’s poor risk management? Or could it be something else entirely – biology?

City trader Kweku Adoboli was "a gamble or two away from destroying Switzerland's largest bank", a London court heard this week. When his positions had been unwound he had lost his employers $2.2bn. Mr Adoboli was jailed for seven years for fraud and it is expected that the UK financial regulator will require the bank he worked for, UBS, to pay a fine of as much as $70m for the management failures that allowed him to run up such mammoth losses. But did biology also have a role? Justin Rowlatt interviews former trader John Coates who is now a research fellow in neuroscience and finance at the University of Cambridge.

Plus – as the UK government prepares to publish its new Energy Bill we speak to a company with plans to build power stations in Britain and one of the country’s biggest banks about what it will take to make nuclear power a reasonable investment.

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