Book Commentary: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man


If I am opinionated, these are my teachers.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone.  Today, Thursday, November 26, 2015, I am feeding poultry, rather than the other way around.  I’m contemplating the market value of feathers from live chickens, and other tangible assets on the here-and-now front.  The Golden Goose, and all that.

I seem to be scoring hits with these Process Commentaries on books about current events.  Here’s another one.  Confessions of an Economic Hit Man was published in 2004.  I read it in March, 2006.  It was an eye-opener.  Perkins doesn’t go into the domestic implications of EHMs.  Think about the domestic implications of the EHM mentality, and you’ll never think the same again.

With out further ado, I’m uploading my 2006 take on Confessions:


Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins, 2004,

Book Synopsis: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

by John Perkins
Copyright 2004
A Plume Book

Synopsis by Katharine C. Otto, March, 2006

“Economic Hit Men (EHMs) are 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.”

Thus begins John Perkins’ personal account as an economist hired by a background corporation to promote US government and corporate interests in foreign–primarily third world–countries. The method was simple: if there were resources to be exploited, he worked to seduce foreign governments into enormous debt obligations for infrastructure built by American contractors, financed through the World Bank and others. He achieved this by exaggerating predictions of economic growth. The arrangement resulted in huge contracts to large American corporations. Another goal was to obligate the borrower far more than it could ever repay, in order to tie that government to American political interests.

“I was to justify huge international loans that would funnel money back to MAIN [the company Perkins worked for] and other US companies (such as Bechtel, Halliburton, Stone & Webster, and Brown & Root) through massive engineering and construction projects. Second, I would work to bankrupt the countries that received these loans (after they had paid MAIN and the other U.S. contractors, of course) so that they would be forever beholden to their creditors, and so they would present easy targets when we need favors, including military bases, UN votes, or access to oil and other natural resources.”

Perkins writes that if EHMs fail at their jobs, “CIA jackals” step in. “If the jackal fails, then the job falls to the military.”

The purpose is to promote US commercial interests by ensnaring world leaders “in a web of debt that ensures their loyalty . . . . In turn, they bolster their political positions by bringing industrial parks, power plants, and airports to their people. The owners of U.S. engineering/construction companies become fabulously wealthy.

“Today, we see the results of this system run amok. Executives at our most respected companies hire people at near-slave wages to toil under inhuman conditions in Asian sweatshops. Oil companies wantonly pump toxins into rain forest rivers, consciously killing people, animals, and plants, and committing genocide among ancient cultures. The pharmaceutical industry denies lifesaving medicines to millions of HIV-infected Africans. Twelve million families in our own United States worry about their next meal. The energy industry creates an Enron. The accounting industry creates an Andersen.

“The US spends over $87 billion conducting a war in Iraq,” and now Bechtel, among others, holds US government contracts to rebuild Iraq from the devastation the war has created.

EHMs provide favors as “loans to develop infrastructure–electric generating plants, highways, ports, airports, or industrial parks. A condition of such loans is that engineering and construction companies from our own country must build all these projects. In essence, most of the money never leaves the United States; it is simply transferred from banking offices in Washington to engineering offices in New York, Houston, or San Francisco.

Ecuador provides one striking example of this system’s results: About the size of Nevada, Ecuador has 30 active volcanoes, over 15 percent of the world’s bird species, and a land of diverse cultures. In 1968, Texaco had just discovered petroleum in Ecuador’s Amazon region. Since then, a trans-Andean pipeline has leaked more than a half million barrels of oil into the fragile rain forest. Now there’s a new $1.3 billion, 300-mile pipeline by an EHM consortium, and oil accounts for nearly half the country’s exports.

“Vast areas of rain forest have fallen, macaws and jaguars have all but vanished, three Ecuadorian indigenous cultures have been driven to the verge of collapse, and pristine rivers have been transformed into flaming cesspools.”

Perkins says that since 1970, public debt in Ecuador increased from $240 million to $16 billion. Overall, third world debt has grown to more than $2.5 trillion, and the cost of servicing it is over $375 billion/year, as of 2004.

The only way Ecuador can buy down its foreign obligations is by selling its rain forests to the oil companies. One of the reasons the EHMs targeted Ecuador is the sea of oil beneath its Amazon region is believed to rival the oil fields of the Middle East.

“All of those people–millions in Ecuador, billions around the planet–are potential terrorists,” Perkins says, “not because they believe in communism or anarchism or are intrinsically evil but simply because they are desperate.”

Perkins describes similar tactics in Java, Kuwait, Iran, Panama, Guatemala, Chile, Saudi Arabia, Columbia and Venezuela. In rich countries like Saudi Arabia, he says, the goal was to induce them to spend money already in their coffers, buy US Treasury bonds, and use the interest to pay American contractors.

21 thoughts on “Book Commentary: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

  1. williamleeone

    I apologize for not acknowledging your follow ! Life has been rather hectic, etc… blah,,,,. The important thing for me is that I have read a bit of your blog, and, from what I have seen so far, will enjoy perusing it further. The Expose, if you will , ” Confessions of an Economic Hit Man ” , Only reaffirms what I think is one of the most Critical propaganda heists of our time. I wonder when the entity , or entities profiting from these adventures, will expound upon their grandiose donations to “the human good ” ! Thank you for being there !

    1. katharineotto Post author

      Thanks for the affirmation. It seems I’m finding a receptive audience with these current events book commentaries. It astounds me that these fraudulent practices are so deeply entrenched, yet not common knowledge. Nobody I know likes being played for a fool. I suspect many would rather not know the truth, as it would force them to re-think everything they have been taught.

  2. Outlier Babe

    Holy cr#p. Yet: Knowing is not helping with solving, is it? Our nation is corporate-run and -owned. How do we mere ants effect change? Who will bell cage the anteaters?

    1. katharineotto Post author

      Good question, and thanks for asking. I think it’s happening under the surface, as more and more people drop out of the rat race, realizing the tainted wealth is not worth sacrificing quality of life. “Mere ants” like us account for 70% the nation’s revenues, and as people cut back on spending and debt, it starves the perpetrators. A very good thing about economic stagnation is that it slows down the eco-rapists and war mongers. The ants have a chance to re-build on a grass roots level in small, local markets that have been abandoned by the supply-siders.

      I’m currently working on a blog that will attempt to frame this more definitively. My simplistic answer is to “Work less, earn less, spend less, waste less, drive less, and pay less in taxes.” Take advantage of free stuff and enjoy what you already have. Relaxation and sleep cost nothing.

    1. katharineotto Post author

      Agreed. More on that later. Suffice to say that a cash-based economy is hard to track, too, which is why the perpetrators want to get everyone hooked on electronic money.

      1. Outlier Babe

        Oh, yes. I have understood that from the beginning. And it was emphasized from one of my own Bad Luck Magnet disasters I have not yet blogged about–involving the IRS.

    1. katharineotto Post author

      Not to worry. They are bottoming out, drowning in their own economic overkill and waste. Now’s the time for the earth-friendly folks to make our moves to sell chemical stocks and boycott pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, ad nausem. Plastic, ye gods, the plastic. Endocrine disrupters. That may have a hellavalot to do with the bees dying off. That thought just struck me.

      I’m sure you’re aware that Dow and DuPont are merging. Each is not making enough money to stand alone. This is a huge success for the good guys.

      If you have any doubt of the connection between government and Wall Street, just look into how many high-dividend corporations are heavily into government contracts.

      More pertinent to our local eco-systems, I plan to inquire who supplies the malathion we are paying Chatham County to vanish our birds’ food supply with. Who do they buy their mosquito control helicopters from? How many elected officials have stock in those companies? (Hey if Josie Taxpayer is funding their pension plans, she has a right to know where her money is invested, don’t we?

      Anyone can do it, with enough taxpayer interest. Taxpayers must show government how to do its job, apparently. The local level is the best place to start.

      Thanks for liking so many of my blogs, and for following.


      1. navasolanature

        Good to know more about the economic links. Plastic is a problem with all the bits in the ocean . It seems some of the Killer Whales off Scotland have high plastic based toxins and this is causing their decline in numbers.

      2. katharineotto Post author

        I think about that every time I have to throw away those little plastic caps on milk cartons or any packaging–like the tear-off tops of plastic-bagged items like walnuts. Freinkel says plastic utensils and disposable lighters are a major problem in the oceans.

    2. katharineotto Post author

      I think it’s a front, or is becoming one. They are machines that run themselves, and the humans have lost control. They have gutted themselves with stock churning and debt, and the government can no longer afford to bail them out. We are seeing that government and Wall Street need each other to survive, but both depend on regular people to pay their way.

      1. navasolanature

        And we are all being robbed of our savings and pensions! It is a mess but and wonder how the real challenge of protecting our planet will pan out. I did enjoy reading Naomi Klein and feel the shortsightedness and vested interests of the fossil fuel industry has lost us all valuable time.

      2. katharineotto Post author

        We’re living through a major paradigm shift, but the good guys are winning, despite appearances. I say this because the bad guys depend too much on worthless money to buy status. However, when they are all equally wealthy and equally sullied, where is the prestige?

        In these shifting times, it’s better to stay out of debt and look to cash flow rather than savings and pensions for an unpredictable future.

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