If you think economics and CIA are poles apart, you cannot be more wrong. Financial knowledge is a must for the CIA, especially so in the current global crisis. Producing daily economic intelligence briefing for the president of the United States calls for a great deal of knowledge and CIA has been doing this since February, in addition to providing him with regular intelligence reports every day. This briefing is also different from the one provided to him on a daily basis by his National Economic Council.
To cater to such demands, CIA is going all out and making the most of the financial meltdown by recruiting financially literate spies – ex financial geniuses from Wall Street.
This is not the first time CIA is doing this kind of recruiting. It has always employed economic analysts and during the Cold War period, they studied the Soviet economy to gain an understanding into how much military spending it was able to support.
“Economics, finance and business professionals – if the quest for the bottom line is just not enough for you, the CIA has a mission like no other. Join CIA’s directorate of intelligence and be a part of our global mission as an economic or financial analyst. Make a difference in your career and for your nation,” says one radio advertisement.
CIA currently needs analysts who are completely in tune with the world’s financial markets and able to assess their impact on the United States. Governments get destabilized due to financial problems. According to Gordon, Director of global research at the Eurasia Group, this need arises due to the global financial crisis, as it has emerged as the top national security threat facing the US.
There are two key areas of interest for the CIA; one is the assessment of how other countries respond to financial pressures and the risks they generate internally and secondly, they would like to know how terrorists, drug gangs, enemy states, such as Iran and North Korea are acting financially.
The importance of highly trained Wall Street pros cannot be undermined. They are adept at analyzing markets, identifying appropriate investment opportunities and making deals to make money. CIA wants to tap this potential and is using radio ads to ask them to consider using their invaluable experience for the benefit of national security.
CIA is at an advantage to attract the best of the talent from Wall Street due to the current job scenario. A spokesman for recruitment and retention at the CIA, Ron Patrick, said that they have received hundreds of resumes from applicants this year, including students and laid-off bankers from Wall Street. Patrick said “It’s going to be a very different use of their skill set than perhaps they’ve used on Wall Street.”
There are ex-investment bankers from Wall Street who are already working for the CIA. One of them says, “There’s no question that an understanding of the global financial system and how money moves from place to place and sort of the economic motivations of the bad guys that we look at are all important skills that I’ve been able to transfer from investment banking.”
All applicants will have to go through a battery of checks, which includes a lie-detector test, rigorous medical and background checks. The applicants will have to show that they are motivated by service to the nation and not just to their wallet.
Starting salaries are certainly not comparable to the high pay of Wall Street and are expected to be between $60,000 for a fresh graduate and $100,000 for an experienced person. They can reach as high as $160,000.
Recently, there has been an increasing interest in CIA careers and the proof lies in the resumes they received this year, which is the most they ever received. There has also been an increased interest in criminal justice schools.
With thousands of young professionals looking for new jobs, this recruitment may prove to be much more than what they have been looking for, providing them the opportunity to serve the nation while earning a decent pay; in spite of it not being what they were paid at Wall Street. These are perfect jobs for people who have a passion for the country and want to make a difference. That is the kind of person CIA is looking for!