Secretary Clinton wants to raise the profile of economic diplomacy in American foreign policy, and of economic officers in the foreign service.
She has given a series of four speeches promoting the idea that “economic strength and our global leadership are a package deal,” and that “economic statecraft [is] at the heart of our foreign policy agenda.” You can find these speeches at these links:
— New York Economic Club, October 14, 2011
— Global Leadership Coalition, July 13, 2011 Washington
— Asia Society, Hong Kong, July 25, 2011
— APEC Women and the Economy Summit, San Francisco, September 16, 2011
At the New York Economic Club, the Secretary spoke about the need for a stronger base of economic knowledge in the foreign service. She said “we are trying to up our game” by doing “more to train our diplomats to understand economics, finance, and markets, and more to promote those who do.” The goal, she said, is “universal economic literacy and widespread expertise. We need to be a Department where more people can read both Foreign Affairs and a Bloomberg terminal.”
Of the five foreign service cones, the economic cone and the management cone are the least competitive. In other words, there are more new hires per hundred candidates in the economic and management cones than in the political, public diplomacy, or consular cones.
With hiring down—only about 400 new FSOs are likely to be hired in fiscal year 2012—competition for employment may be even stronger than in the recent past. Candidates who are thinking about which cone to choose should take the Secretary’s commitment to economics into consideration.