martes, 2 de enero de 2007

Las lecciones de Leeson

Si hay una historia capaz de seguir generando información en prensa después de más de diez años es la de Nick Leeson. La verdad es que no es para menos. Para aquellos que no conozcan las andanzas del “Rogue trader” les adelanto que el bueno de Nick fue capaz él solito, de llevar a la quiebra al banco más antiguo del mundo, el Barings.

Tras trabajar durante un tiempo en el back office de la oficina que el banco mantenía en Yakarta, Lesson solicitó un cambio de destino a la sucursal de Singapur. No sólo consiguió el nuevo destino sino que además, le nombraron Director General del Baring Securities Singapore Limited. A partir de ahí y en tan sólo tres años, los acontecimientos se precipitaron.

A Leeson no le bastaba con ser el mandamás en Singapur, él quería acción. Nada más llegar, compró una ficha para poder operar en el SIMEX y despidió a buena parte de los operadores. En ese momento, en su figura recaían de facto los puestos de Director General, Jefe de Mesa y Jefe de Back Office. Ese fue el gran error porque, ¿quién controla al que lo controla todo?

La operativa que desde Londres se le permitía a la oficina de Singapur sólo contemplaba operaciones en opciones y futuros para clientes y el arbitraje del futuro del Nikkei en SIMEX y en la Bolsa de Osaka. Pero eso no iba a frenar a Leeson. A través de la famosa cuenta 88888 -la cuenta de errores que tenía la entidad (todas las entidades que operan en mercados, tienen una cuenta de errores donde se incluyen las operaciones que provienen de errores cometidos por los operadores: comprar cuando hay que vender, equivocaciones en el volumen de las órdenes, etc.)- Nick Leeson comenzó a tomar posiciones especulativas.

A mediados de Enero de 1995 Leeson tenía en cartera importantes posiciones en mercado. Básicamente, había vendido opciones, es decir, estaba corto en volatilidad esperando que el mercado se mantuviera estable. Pero el destino quiso que en la mañana del 17 de Enero un terremoto de 7,2 en la escala de Richter azotara Kobe. El mercado caía y Leeson intentó darle la vuelta él solo, aumentando el riesgo de sus posiciones exponencialmente. A mediados de Febrero de 1995 las posiciones de Leeson incluían el 85% del open interest en el futuro del bono japones y el 50% del futuro sobre el Nikkei.



La historia acaba con brutales pérdidas acumuladas, una nota de Leeson que decía “ Lo siento” y una huída que terminó con su detención y extradición a Singapur, donde cumplió condena durante cerca de cuatro años.

Su caso es hoy en día estudiado como el paradigma de todo lo que no hay que hacer en políticas de control de riesgo.

En la actualidad Nick Leeson se gana la vida dando conferencias (sus honorarios ascienden a 9800$ por speach) y como Director General del Galway´s Soccer Club (sí, habéis leído bien, es un club de futbol). Además afirma seguir especulando a través de su cuenta personal en el mercado de divisas.

Para aquellos que quieran saber algo más sobre Leeson pueden comprar su libro, visitar su web o ver su película…

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