Thursday, April 21, 2016

Their oil, Our suits

Bloomberg News --

It’s a great time to be a consultant in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Less so for bankers. Demand for consultants and consultancy firms in the region was much stronger than expected in the first quarter and is set to stay that way for the remainder of the year, according to recruiter Morgan McKinley. By contrast, hiring by banks slumped 60 percent in the three months through March and isn’t likely to improve by December, it said. "If you’re a consultant, business is booming," Trefor Murphy, managing director of Morgan McKinley in the Middle East and North Africa, said in an interview. "There’s huge demand in places like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as they transform their economies. Many bankers, on the other hand, will be struggling to hold down their job."

A lot of the commentary on Saudi Arabia-US relations (including Nicholas Kristof today) still presents the bargain between the two countries as based on stability of Saudi oil supply. But that tanker sailed a long time ago. The US relations with the Gulf countries (and also true for western Europe) is about making sure that they spend their oil money on as much western stuff as possible, including consulting firms. It's that upper sphere of the Bobos, working for those firms, which now forms an influential constituency complacent about the ill-effects of US-Gulf relations. 

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