John Perkins: Economic Hit Man: John Perkins was for many years one of the world’s top economists. He worked directly with the heads of the World Bank, IMF, and other global financial institutions. He quit this work in the 1980s because morally and ethically, he felt it was wrong to play such a key role in creating world empire at the expense of the less advantaged around the world.
After being persuaded and even bribed not to write a book about his experiences, Perkins states, “When 9/11 struck, I had a change of heart.” The book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman, spent many weeks on amazon.com’s bestseller list and has been widely acclaimed. Below is a summary of this landmark book and ideas on how you can help to build a brighter future for us all.
Note: For an excellent, engaging two-minute video summary of Perkins’ story, click here.
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is John Perkins’ fast-paced autobiography, which reveals his career as an economist for an international consulting firm. Perkins says he was actually an “Economic Hit Man.” His job was to convince countries that are strategically important to the United States to accept enormous loans for infrastructure development and to make sure that the lucrative projects were contracted to U.S. corporations.
Perkins takes the reader through his career and explains how he created economic projections for countries to accept billions of dollars in loans they surely couldn’t afford. He shares his battle with his conscience over these actions and offers advice for how Americans can work to end these practices which have directly resulted in terrorist attacks and animosity towards the United States.
What Is An Economic Hit Man?
Perkins defines economic hit men as “highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign ‘aid’ organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources.
Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization.”
In Perkins’ case, he was hired as an economist for the international consulting firm of Chas. T. Main, Inc. (MAIN). He was told in confidential meetings with “special consultant” to the company Claudine Martin that he had two primary objectives:
- He was supposed to justify huge loans for countries. These loans would be for major engineering and construction projects, which were to be carried out by MAIN and other U.S. companies such as Bechtel, Halliburton, Stone & Webster and Brown & Root.
- He was supposed to help bankrupt the countries that received these loans after the U.S. companies involved had been paid. This would make sure that these countries would remain in debt to their creditors and would then be easy targets when the U.S. needed favors such as military bases, UN votes and access to natural resources like oil.
Perkins’ job was to produce economic growth projections that would make the case for a variety of major projects. If the U.S. decided to lend a country money, Perkins would compare the economic benefits of different projects such as power plants or telecommunications systems. He would then produce reports that showed the economic growth the country would experience due to these projects. These economic growth projections needed to be high enough to justify the loans. Otherwise, the loans would be denied.
The gross national product (GNP) was always the most important factor in these economic projections. The project expected to increase the GNP the most would be chosen. In the cases where there was only one project under consideration, it needed to be shown that the project would greatly benefit the GNP. Luckily for the economic hit man, GNP figures can be quite deceptive. “For instance, the growth of GNP may result even when it profits only one person, such as an individual who owns a utility company, while the majority of the population is burdened with debt.”
All of these projects were meant to make huge profits for the contractors. The U.S. engineering and construction companies involved would be assured of great wealth. At the same time, a few wealthy families and influential leaders in the receiving countries would become very happy and very rich thanks to these loans. The leaders of these countries would also have bolstered political power because they were credited with bringing industrial parks, power plants and airports to their people.
The problem is that these countries simply cannot handle the debt of these loans and their poorest citizens are deprived of health, education and other social services for several decades as these countries struggle economically to overcome their huge debts. Meanwhile, the huge American media conglomerates portray these projects as favors being provided by the United States. American citizens in general have no trouble believing these messages, and in fact are led to perceive that these actions are unselfish acts of international goodwill.
Ultimately, due to the large debts, the U.S. is able to draw on these countries for political, economic and military favors whenever desired. And of course, the U.S. corporations involved with the expensive projects become extremely wealthy.
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