Did Coked-Up Bankers Crash the Economy?
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Did cocaine highs lead to economic lows? Britain's often controversial former drug czar, Professor David Nutt, has claimed that the financial crisis was caused by too many bankers using the illegal stimulant. "Bankers use cocaine and got us into this terrible mess," he said, adding that the drug made bankers "overconfident" and led them to take more risks. He went on to declare that abuse of cocaine led to the financial meltdown, "and the Barings crash" of 1995, in which one of the bank's employees, Nick Leeson, lost £827 million ($1.3 billion) due to speculative investing. Nutt, a psychiatrist and professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College in London, also said in a recent interview that cocaine fit with the banking "culture of excitement and drive and more and more and more. It is a 'more' drug." Nutt was fired in 2009 from his position of chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) after he released a pamphlet asserting that ecstasy was not much more dangerous than horse riding. In the past, he has also claimed that ecstasy and LSD are less harmful than alcohol, that medical research about the uses of magic mushrooms is hindered by the government, and that claims of pot's danger to lungs is overhyped.