The Value of Expertise Rises with the Market

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The Wall Street Journal examines how oil prices are affecting individuals around the country. Among them is Adam Robinson, a Yale graduate who's found the pressures exerted by rising prices have boosted the value of his expertise.

When he began an internship at Lehman in the summer of 2005, Robinson thought his assignment was a loser: natural gas stock researcher. Then he went back to his senior year at Yale and found himself getting calls from investors and Lehman staffers who wanted information about some of the Gulf of Mexico oil platforms he'd researched. (Remember, 2005 brought us the Summer of Hurricane Katrina.) A political science major, he wrote his senior thesis on oil politics and "resource nationalism." On graduating, he joined Lehman as a research analyst on the commodities-trading desk.

Today, the Journal notes, Robinson is:

"at the epicenter of a bull market, with Wall Street firms aggressively allocating resources to commodities. The job market for commodities traders is so hot, according to a study by Wall Street search firm Options Group, that top pay packages are five times larger than they were in 2002, and bonuses were estimated to be up 15% to 20% last year. Banks and securities firms hired 450 commodities traders last year through September, Options Group said, up 33% over the same period in 2006."

In a few years, Robinson told the Journal, he hopes to become a "dealmaker" in the energy sector, either at Lehman or at a private-equity firm or hedge fund.

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