In Brussels there is one industry that is thriving better than just about any other: the bailout business. In the last five years, some of the world’s biggest financial consultancies have trousered tens of millions of euros apiece advising bailed-out governments and central banks how to reorganize their finances.
As Irish central bank governor Patrick Honohan said during Ireland’s 2011 bailout, “it’s amazing when you pay large sums of money, how the best consultants in the world can come flocking.” Those firms include Alvarez and Marsal, Oliver Wyman and Pimco.
A Bright Future
Unlike many other industries in Europe´s crisis-ridden economy, the bailout business appears to have a bright future in store. As long as the continent’s banking industry remains prone to the occasional meltdown, the bailout business should remain a lucrative source of revenues and profits.
One firm that has proven particularly adept at carving out a niche in this sector is BlackRock Solutions, a small – in relative terms – advisory unit of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management fund, with roughly €3 trillion under management. In 2011 the firm was hired by the Bank of Ireland to forecast how much Irish banks would risk losing and to carry out a “stress test” on worst-case scenarios for the Irish banking system, which had just been bailed out to the tune of €85 billion.
Despite providing embarrassingly wayward forecasts, BlackRock Solutions pocketed €30 million for the job. The firm got a similar contract worth €12.3 million from the Bank…