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It’s not uncommon for the consulting firm McKinsey & Company — an agency that once functioned in the background of the world economy and that is now prone to intense scrutiny — to play both sides of the coin. In 2018, despite President Erdogan’s “economic war” with the United States, his Financial Ministry sought out the firm to make a three-year plan to end Turkey’s inflation and currency crises. And as President Trump attacks Beijing, a frequent McKinsey client, for downplaying the spread of COVID-19 in the initial days of the outbreak, the White House is also employing the firm as part of its coronavirus response.
Apparently, the firm isn’t afraid of getting in the middle of domestic tiffs either. According to CNBC, Governor Cuomo has hired McKinsey consultants to create a science-intensive plan for how to reopen the economies of seven northeastern states while minimizing the risk of spreading the virus. Sources with knowledge of the deal told the outlet that “as part of Cuomo’s effort, McKinsey & Co. is producing models on testing, infections and other key data points that will underpin decisions on how and when to reopen the region’s economy.” An adviser to New Jersey governor Phil Murphy said the goal is to “Trump-proof” the plan.
McKinsey’s involvement in the regional plan may sink that goal from the start, as the Trump administration has paid the firm as much as $19 million in recent weeks to advise the departments of Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs. The firm was also active in Jared Kushner’s initial effort to replace the National Security Council’s pandemic-response office.
However, considering the president’s limitations in overriding state decisions, it won’t be all that hard to “Trump-proof” the economic reboot. And for the president to intervene in the states’ strategy, he would have to effectively coordinate his own response — a task he is proving incapable of executing.