The stereotype of a drug-fuelled banker has prevailed since the 1980s–an image of excess that goes hand in hand with a culture of risk-taking and endless evenings of entertaining clients. Now a leading British academic and former government drug-policy advisor has said that this very behavior may have caused the global financial meltdown.
David Nutt, professor of neuropharmacology at Imperial College, said in an interview with British newspaper the Sunday Times thatbankers “use cocaine and got us into this terrible mess.” The drug tends to make its users “overconfident” he said — which in turn leads them to taking more risks. “It’s a ‘more’ drug,” he added, which fits in with the financial industry’s “culture of excitement and drive and more and more and more.”
Nutt is no stranger to controversy—he was fired from his role as an advisor to the U.K. government in 2009 for arguing that ecstasy and LSD were less harmful than alcohol—but he is not the first to make a connection between recreational drug use among financial professionals and the crisis itself.