McKinsey, the standard-bearer for autocrats, looters and torturers


Originally published at:


It’s long been a rule of thumb for those in the know in many industries that if the freshly-minted MBA kiddies from McKinsey or from similar large management consulting firms show up at your company it’s time to start dusting off one’s CV.

They’re almost invariably brought in by an executive or by a major investor with an agenda in order to provide a sheen of validity and justification to whatever larger goal of power, greed, or cover-up of incompetence or malfeasance the client specifies.

McKinsey will usually send in a bunch of callow consultants, billed out at a huge premium, to “discover” things about the company that are common knowledge to most employees, do “innovative” analyses that are actually stale re-hashes of stuff found in B-school textbooks and case studies, and then come back with “conclusions” and action plans that support the agenda the client wanted in the first place.

It makes sense that McKinsey would take this basic business model of doing “independent” consulting for businesses and apply it internationally to autocratic and kleptocratic regimes.

In these countries, McKinsey consultants confer with ex-McKinsey consultants who ascend to high ranks in government ministries and para-governmental entities (such as Russia’s VEB bank, which operates as a not-very-secret arm of the Kremlin), and the McKinsey company hires the scions of local power-brokers to work in their ranks.

This illustrates two aspects of McKinsey’s approach that also apply in the corporate world: a form of “regulatory capture” where former McKinsey consultants move into senior executive roles in corporate America, giving them the influence to bring the firm more business down the line; and hiring kids of wealthy and powerful business leaders (kids who frequently don’t quite meet the firm’s vaunted hiring standards).

McKinsey defends its work around the world, saying that it will not accept jobs at odds with the company’s values.

Put another way, it won’t work for free. The company’s one and only value is profit.


I don’t know if they’re all parts of the octopus, but that’s a lot of companies!✓&q=McKinsey&commit=Go&jurisdiction_code=&utf8=✓&button=&controller=searches&action=search_companies&mode=phrase_prefix&branch=&nonprofit=&order=


That link is paywalled for me (or requires an account). I’d love to see a summary.


Think of them as playing a role similar to what Robert Wagner’s Number 2 did for Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies.


It’s not a pay wall. Unfortunately, the search is using feature that requires free login.

351 companies in various counties. 273 active.

They usually create a Delaware company for each country, then a branch company in that country.



Thanks. In addition to the international corporate entities and speciality outfits that bear the name, there are likely a raft of holding companies and foundations through which they can sluice funds on behalf of themselves or their clients.


Yup, Panama, Bermuda, Jersey…


From how it seems, maybe it should be baseball bats instead of CVs.


"McKinsey defends its work around the world, saying that it will not accept jobs at odds with the company’s values. "

Since what they most value is money, they ain’t lyin’.


Until today, I did not know that CIA had a consulting business as one of its many tools for mismanaging the world’s governments.


Any chance we can use a less loaded metaphor?


They do work with GS a lot, “parts of the vampire squid” it is, good call!


What is that logo supposed to be? I see a tampon. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


I’ve never heard of this company till now. So much for that positive first impression.


I see a bone saw.


Let me see if I understand this.

This company is hired by people to come and basically do your standard “the consultant found that if we fire 3/4 of our workforce our profit will be incredible” routine. Identifying supposed “waste” and “redundancy”.

And their annual retreat is a desert stravaganza that has to cost I dont know how many dollars so they can say stupid stuff like their slogan while walking on red carpet on the dunes or riding a camel.


There seems to be a revolving door between McKinsey and both major UK parties. You get a good impression of the company when you realise that both William Hague and Chris Philp are McKinsey ‘alumni’.


Exactly. One of the reasons McKinsey gets really pissed when their slide decks get out is that, if you gray out the name of the company they are consulting for, one deck is almost identical to the next. They work from a library deck and just pick and choose which slides apply to the client. Considering what they charge, their clients should be outraged, except for the fact, as you point out, they aren’t paying for legitimate consultation but for justification to unpopular actions they plan to take.


I had to touch the soup (well, ‘sign on’ with twitter,) so my sense of distaste is all enraged that it doesn’t have 74 active offices in a bunch of states plus their D.C. presences. (Nifty index, that. Like the new Egyptian dig is nifty, but with a license that doesn’t name-check as much.) The Pool looks out of control if they consult widely and murder the modest ones?