Jérôme Kerviel ends up $7 billion in debt to his previous employer Société Générale

Jérôme Kerviel ends up $7 billion in debt to his previous employer Société Générale

Jérôme Kerviel was a junior derivatives trader at Société Générale who earned $66,000 per year at the bank which was one of the largest in Europe. By January 9th, 2008, he had amassed an exposure to stock index futures of $73 billion. The way he did so ended up costing SocGen $7.2 billion – six…

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A poorly constructed steel tank causes the 1919 Boston Molasses Flood

A poorly constructed steel tank causes the 1919 Boston Molasses Flood

Boston endured one of history’s oddest occurrences when a flood of molasses tore through the city’s North End on 15th January 1919. What became known as the ‘Great Molasses Flood,’ resulted in the depositing of so much sticky goo that residents of the area claimed to still be able to smell the molasses decades later…

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Bond trader Howie Hubler causes $9 billion losses for Morgan Stanley

Bond trader Howie Hubler causes $9 billion losses for Morgan Stanley

Howie Hubler was a former Morgan Stanley bond trader who became infamous for his role in the single largest trading loss in Wall Street history. His actions directly resulted in the loss of roughly $9 billion during the 2007–08 financial crisis after he purchased risky subprime mortgages in the U.S., but to offset the risk…

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Confectionery made with Arsenic causes the 1858 Bradford Sweets Poisoning

Confectionery made with Arsenic causes the 1858 Bradford Sweets Poisoning

In 1858, 200 people from Bradford in West Yorkshire, UK, became extremely ill after being sold sweets from a market stall that had accidentally been made with arsenic. Twenty-one people perished as a result of the blunder which ultimately led to legislation that provided for the regulation of food adulteration and also the Pharmacy Act…

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Mr. Copper loses $2.6 billion after manipulating commodity prices for a decade

Mr. Copper loses $2.6 billion after manipulating commodity prices for a decade

‘Mr. Copper,’ as he came to be known, was Japanese commodity trader Yasuo Hamanaka. He worked for the Japanese trading company Sumitomo, and whilst at the helm of Sumitomo’s metal-trading division, Hamanaka was able to control 5% of the world’s copper supply. 5% may not seem a large amount, but copper is fairly unique in…

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US Steamboat Moselle explodes after its captain tries to race another ship

US Steamboat Moselle explodes after its captain tries to race another ship

Captain Isaac Perrin was the co-owner of a new steamboat called Moselle – a 150 tonne vessel that wasn’t especially large for its time, but was more than made for achieving what were back then breakneck speeds for voyages up and down the Ohio River. One of the key commercial draws for a successful contemporary…

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Bernard Madhoff steals billions running the largest ponzi scheme in history

Bernard Madhoff steals billions running the largest ponzi scheme in history

Bernard Madhoff ran the largest fraudulent pyramid scheme in history. The former Chairman of NASDAQ and founder of the Wall Street firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, admitted that the wealth management arm of his business was an elaborate Ponzi scheme when he was apprehended by federal authorities on 11th December 2008. He was…

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Rogue trader Nick Leeson bankrupts the 200 year old Barings merchant bank

Rogue trader Nick Leeson bankrupts the 200 year old Barings merchant bank

Barings Bank was the world’s second oldest merchant bank and was founded in 1762 by the Baring family of merchants and bankers. From its Cheapside and Mincing Lane offices in London’s Square Mile, the bank oversaw and financed the rapid growth of international trade as the major world powers jostled over the spoils of their…

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John DeLorean achieves worldwide fame but not success with the DMC-12

John DeLorean achieves worldwide fame but not success with the DMC-12

When people think of the DeLorean motor car, the image of a time travelling teenager and an eccentric mad professor springs to mind after the DMC-12 achieved iconic status when it featured as the time machine in the Back to the Future movie franchise. The DMC-12 was the only car produced by the DeLorean Motor…

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Hoover loses £50 million after its free flights promotion fiasco

Hoover loses £50 million after its free flights promotion fiasco

Back in August 1992, household electrical appliance manufacturer Hoover launched a marketing promotion in a bid to move surplus vacuum cleaner and washing machine stock from its warehouse in the pre-christmas period.   The promotion promised free airline tickets to any customer that spent £100 or more on the company’s products and the offer initially…

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