Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
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John Perkins started and stopped writing Confessions of an Economic Hit Man four times over 20 years. He says he was threatened and bribed in an effort to kill the project, but after 9/11 he finally decided to go through with this expose of his former professional life. Perkins, a former chief economist at Boston strategic-consulting firm Chas. T. Main, says he was an "economic hit man" for 10 years, helping U.S. intelligence agencies and multinationals cajole and blackmail foreign leaders into serving U.S. foreign policy and awarding lucrative contracts to American business. "Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars," Perkins writes. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is an extraordinary and gripping tale of intrigue and dark machinations. Think John Le Carr¨¦, except it's a true story.

Perkins writes that his economic projections cooked the books Enron-style to convince foreign governments to accept billions of dollars of loans from the World Bank and other institutions to build dams, airports, electric grids, and other infrastructure he knew they couldn't afford. The loans were given on condition that construction and engineering contracts went to U.S. companies. Often, the money would simply be transferred from one bank account in Washington, D.C., to another one in New York or San Francisco. The deals were smoothed over with bribes for foreign officials, but it was the taxpayers in the foreign countries who had to pay back the loans. When their governments couldn't do so, as was often the case, the U.S. or its henchmen at the World Bank or International Monetary Fund would step in and essentially place the country in trusteeship, dictating everything from its spending budget to security agreements and even its United Nations votes. It was, Perkins writes, a clever way for the U.S. to expand its "empire" at the expense of Third World citizens. While at times he seems a little overly focused on conspiracies, perhaps that's not surprising considering the life he's led. --Alex Roslin

With new material from the author

"Economic hit men," John Perkins writes," are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. 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 terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization." John Perkins should know-he was an economic hit man for an international consulting firm that worked to convince developing countries to accept enormous loans and to funnel that money to U.S. corporations. Once these countries were saddled with huge debts, the American government and international aid agencies were able to request their "pound of flesh" in favors, including access to natural resources, military cooperation, and political support. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is the story of one man's experiences inside the intrigue, greed, corruption and little-known government and corporate activities that America has been involved in since World War II, and which have dire consequences for the future of democracy and the world.

Customer Reviews:

  • Global Empire through a far more subtle manner
    Confessions of an Economic Hit Man takes an in depth view of America's history and consequently world history. Perkins ties our economic agenda into the machine consisting of government, corporations, and banks, demonstrating how imperialism is stronger and more present than ever, but has taken on a far more subtle approach. He indulges into his corporate role as an economist who helped take over foreign governments through fallacious economic projections resulting in amounts of debt equivalent to enslavement. Perkins continues to write about the alternatives faced when men such as him didn't succeed, specifically situations such as those we face now in Iraq.
    Greed, global empire and corruption are all disastrous truths most would prefer not to touch, but the feeling of ignorance before reading this book towers that miniscule desire to turn the other cheek.
    Josh L.

    ...more info
  • Universally Read
    You know what the funny thing is about this book?
    I doubt that theres very many world leaders or intellectuals who havent either read this book or had a summary of it presented to them.
    You can disbelieve the facts presented or disbelieve the conclusions but there is a reason this book is so widely looked at.
    The reason is the things he says are both shocking and believable. This is no half baked illuminati conspiracy hes talking about. Its feasible.

    Dont buy the negative reviews -you will at MINIMUM be entertained in the extreme. Who would have guessed that James Bond actually looks alot more like John Doe, and doesnt carry a gun. He doesnt have to.

    A damn good read....more info
  • An Eye Opener
    This book is an excellent read and may be quite an eye opener for the masses. It's true to its purpose which is a "confession" drafted to ease ramping guilt by raising awareness of America's far-reaching detrimental corporatocracy.

    I found that the facts within this book are easily verifiable as Perkins offers avenues of research, much of which are public-record. ...more info
  • Excellent inside story
    This is an excellent inside story that has been cleverly hidden for years by the US administration. Unfortunately, the same scenario is at large even now....more info
  • No economic info here
    Nothing special about economic indicators, or how to observe the hitmens behavior in economics, but more so a life history of the authers growth in this craft. The book was entertaining, but I wanted information, about the imf, C-banks and so on. So if your looking for an informative educational book one star, if you want entertainment, and to learn about the author 5 stars. Good reading....more info
  • Very thought provoking.
    I enjoyed the way the author tied details of modern history to the events of his life. Very thought provoking. I think it is striking the way the individuals who critique it for a lack of statistics provide none of their own....more info
  • Interesting take
    I liked the book very much, and if indeed what Mr Perkins states in the book is true, we are living in a truly messed up world, although I dont doubt his validity. My one beef with the book is that it plays out a bit too much like a diary and there is too much trivial information of his own life but there is also a lot of good historical information as well.

    The main plot of the story is that the American Empire, aka the corporatocracy, exploits third world countries by placing them under huge amounts of debt which can never be paid, and then after the country defaults, they take over their vast natural resources, and for the lack of a better term, enslave the population. ...more info
  • A revelation of who the real terrorists are
    I am suspicious of reviews that try to undermine this book. Mr. Perkins has enclosed a typed copy of his resume (on a typewriter) from that era with all the companies listed that he worked for then. There is little doubt that these confessions are the truth. In fact he probably left out a lot of the more sinister details that could endanger him and his family.

    John Perkins is a whistle-blower and an American patriot for coming clean on the hidden evil system unknown to most.

    A shocking revelation into who the real terror organization is....more info
  • Great Reading of World events Not usually seen in the News.
    This book will amaze you of world events that you usually wouldn't hear on the news. This man has risked his life writing his life story to the public. Exposing dark secrets that only an inside source would know about world events. ...more info
  • uncerainty
    After reading this book I am confused as to why this person want us to believe that he was able to to fool so many people around the world. Does he want us to believe that most of the world cannot see through the Ameican way? ...more info
  • Repentant Man?
    I found the book to be interesting from the standpoint of one man's perspective on two decades of US empire building. I have no doubt he believes what he writes and Americans will surely be reviewing with more than a passing glance the foreign policy decisions, past and present.

    I can appreciate this author's guilt by his role in "empire building" but he continually dedicates small portions of the books to self reflecting judgment and, more of less, implicates his upbringing, NSA profiling and a myriad of other BS excuses for why he continued to do what he did. Tell the story but please don't defend yourself to me.
    ...more info
  • act out of your conscience or live the consequences
    there are many great, kind and charitable americans. the presidents and the government represented american....

    for years, as now everyone knows that there was no nuclear weapon found in iraq, haliburton is still making great money. people like bush family, dick cheney have a lot to do with this company. they made great money. they were the one declaring war. and they were the ones making friends with the dictators of the world. look where it has got america and the world. i hope McCain will not win. and obviously the lady running mate of his. with all due respect, someone who has little education, and pro-live and pro-gun. imagine the future of america and the world in the hands of these duo.

    this book is an eye opener. the view it presented has tied in with the facts i have previously known.

    american should care more about the rest of the world and the action of their leaders. indifference can otherwise be very costly...more info
  • Good Book
    I am strongly recommended for this book and the vendor is great book for all of us to understand who we really are....more info
  • Unbridled Capitalism & Foreign Policy
    The author gives us a rare insight into how the US conducts "foreign policy" that primarily benefits US corporate/conglomerate profit interests. Similar to the US "military-industrial complex" that President Eisenhower warned us about in 1961, the author sounds a warning about how narrow monied interests guide the conduct of foreign "assistance" and "relations" so that the public interests, in both the US and the "target" country are ill-served. This is a MUST READ for American voters and the new generation of elected decision-makers. ...more info
  • Pure garbage
    This book hardly talks about economics and instead reads like a bad spy novel. Without proper citation or even a shred of evidence its hard to take anything in this book seriously. ...more info
  • Confessions of another "guilty" liberal
    "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man"
    is another misguided liberal attack on capitalism.
    It is right in showing that the battle of the future
    is not between capitalism and communism (socialism)
    but between capitalism and Islam. Islam is very
    principled (although with a distorted message of hate)
    and so strong in that department, but has not yet
    (if it will ever) developed a strong capitalism.

    Mr. Perkins, the economic "hit man" of the book, has
    fallen victim to liberal guilt. His company would
    entice oil-rich countries, such as Ecuador and
    Indonesia, to "go modern" with huge capital
    loans (for dams, infrastructure, oil wells etc.)
    but these were either stolen by corrupt officials
    or were not planned realistically enough to begin
    to pay off the debt, so the hit man would say
    "Ok, you can't pay off the huge debt with dollars,
    give us oil (or other resources) instead." So
    supposedly the US company would leave them
    poor while it drained off its resources.

    The scenario may have some truth in it,
    but I don't see us draining off huge third world
    resources for repayment of private debt.
    If so, why do we have so much private debt
    ourselves ? And have oil prices been so high ?

    Capitalism is not in principle at fault here, what's
    at fault is poorly managed debt. Perhaps Mr.
    Perkins is criminal, not capitalism itself,
    in unrealistically setting up his deals

    And Islam is at fault for not following its basic
    message of love of God, not hate for man.

    History will show whether misguided religion
    can overpower properly run capitalism, but
    I'm placing my bets on capitalism.

    - Roger Clough...more info
  • I loved it
    A must read book if you ask me! It is well written and you cannot stop reading it until it is finished. Even if only half of the stories are true, I think it opens your eyes to how rich countries (in this case the US) prey on poor nations across the world....more info
  • I didn't get it until the very end.
    Poorly written and poorly reasoned, I didn't get it until the very end, when I realized that Mr. Perkins is appalled that the world is run by evil, one might even say sinful, men. Obviously anti-Christian, Mr. Perkins rejects the doctrine of total depravity and chooses to believe that the mostly good, environmentally sensitive population of the earth is oppressed by a complex conspiracy run by a few evil--mostly republican--men....more info
  • Enticing but a general letdown
    I cracked this book open with the hopes of getting an insider's view of how corporate manipulation of international loans works. Unfortunately, Perkins reveals little except his takeaway from the experience. The overall feeling of the book was not that he wants to educate us on the machine and how it works but rather issue a mea culpa. It's long on feelings and short on detail. I was looking for something more well researched and detailed like "Blackwater" by Scahill which gives a deep account on how corporate players make money from war and the US government. Unfortunately, Perkins was only able to vaguely confirm what I know to be true, leaving me searching the book racks for someone who can explain the nitty gritty to me. I don't recommend it if you want to answer the "hows" of this really big and complex issue....more info
  • Self indulgent and lacking depth
    While this is readable and ties in several historical threads of the past 30 years, in the result Perkins fails to make his case that development finance is merely a tool of the "evil capitalist empire". He makes inferences, allusions and assumptions, but he failed to show enough evidence or connectivity to convince one that investing in power plants, roads, ports, etc is a net negative for developing countries. Sure, the world is connected, financed and full of agendas -- lets not throw out the economic baby with caveat-emptor bathwater. Or, as we say in emerging markets, "the only thing worse than being exploited by the developed world is NOT being exploited". Perkin's "guilt" wears a bit thin as he fully believes he's sinful, but accepts the paychecks for 30 years before finally letting go and coming clean. Like Democracy, Capitalism is the worst system, except for all the others....more info
  • Why was "Hitman" a hit? Here's how Perkins would read the negative reviews
    PRO: At the end of the book, he says you, the reader, are the reason the world is the way it is. After listening to his nonstop bashing of corporations and governments, I expected him to conclude with a final "coup de grace" on those two entities, but I was wrong! He puts the blame where it should be: all of us. We are those people in the corporations and the governments reflect what we want. If we want to blame someone, let's start with ourselves. I commend Perkins for saying that. "Any fool can criticise, and most fools do," said Andrew Carnegie. Those few paragraphs almost took the book to two stars. Unfortunately, the rest of it was terrible.

    CONS: Many other reviewers will point out the myriad of flaws and shortcomings of this book. I'll illustrate how Perkins would read all these one star reviews. He would say:

    - They're written by jackals, government officials, and corporate hitmen trying to discredit me.
    - They're people who are so naive that they don't understand how the real world works. They say this is a fantasy. It's no fantasy, baby, this was real life!

    PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT OF PERKINS: Perkins is a man filled with regret. He dreamed of living an exciting life, but ended up living just a mediocre one. For example:

    - He wanted to go to Ivy League Schools, but went to a ho-hum schools.

    - He wanted to be an executive, but he never got beyond middle management.

    - He wanted to be a spy for the NSA, but all he got was an interview.

    - He wanted to live a glamourous life, but he got all the pedestrian glamour of a typical international corporate job.

    - He wanted babes, but he just got a divorce and a few flings.

    In short, he feels like a failure. He's frustrated by that so he's decided to reinterpret his whole life, make it more exciting, boost his ego a bit by writing a book that makes his life seem more interesting than it was. He fills it with cloak and dagger intrigue, but there's really nothing there. It's obvious that it's all in his mind.

    He depicts himself as an "insider," but offers scant interesting insider stuff. Most of his theories are backed by his daily news source: the NY Times.

    His opinion that construction projects drive our economy and decisions is wrong. Foreign infrastructure projects make up less than 1% of the US government budget and not even 0.1% of our economy. Furthermore, he says that "very few" benefit from the new electricity plants we build in Ecuador or Indonesia. Really? So we build a multi-billion dollar plant to power three rich people's homes? Wrong. Thousands of poor people benefit from the roads and electricity plants. That's why they invite us there. Duh! Do we also benefit? Sure! We probably wouldn't do it otherwise! DUH!

    The other irritation about this book is that he thinks he's making novel arguments, when they're usually obvious to all. For example, corporatations are self-interested. Wow. I never would have guessed that. Let's add: humans are self-interested. What do you expect Exxon to do? Sell oil for less than it costs them to make it? Do you expect the salesman of a construction firm to not try to get the best deal he can get for his company? Doesn't he want to get a bonus and send his children to a good college?

    He whines about people working for a dollar a day in "sweatshops." Are we holding them at gunpoint? No. On the contrary, people in Asia work at Nike's factories to earn their $1 a day for two reasons:

    1. It's better than getting 50 cents a day, which is what the local companies pay. Working for a foreign company is PRESTIGIOUS and coveted.

    2. Their daily costs are 90 cents a day. Some love to focus on how little people in third world countries make, but they often forget how little it costs them to live. Imagine their conversations about us: "It costs $100/day to live in America. How do they do it? We're much better off here because it costs just 90 cents per day." There are two sides of the equation, Perkins.

    CONCLUSION: There were only two reasons I listened to this misleading and overrated book till the end. First, my friend recommended it. Second, I was curious to see what SOLUTION he proposed. It's easy to complain. But what do you think we should do instead?

    As I mentioned at the beginning, he places part of the blame on you and me. Great. Well said. Now what? He tells us to drive less. I bet he drives and flies much more than any of us because he's promoting his book. He tell us that we should have a more fair world. That we should have medical services available for all, information should be widespread, and that we should think of the consequences of our actions. Blah... blah.. blah... as you can see: no specifics. Why not? Because it's nobody would like to do what would need to be done. He's asking us to change human nature. Sorry, Perkins, it's ain't going to happen. And Perkins is proof that it won't happen because lives in a nice house, buys food from corporations, votes for the political establishment, doesn't send 50% of his income to third world countries, etc....

    Get this if you want to laugh. ...more info
  • Even more relevant now
    This book was published in 2004. The housing bubble was 3 years away, and the credit crisis was unfathomable. The first couple of pages predict that the global financial system, based on greed and consumerism, is not sustainable. Like many other self-reflecting, informed individuals, Perkins saw it coming.

    The book doesn't state anything new or groundbreaking. The vagaries of US foreign policy, its blatant support for tyrants in Central America and the Middle East have been public knowledge for decades. What this book does offer, is a refreshing personal perspective. It's a painfully honest, seemingly heartfelt confession. It recounts Perkins interactions with democratically elected leaders, who were vilified and/or assassinated by the US, when they had outlived their utility. He then puts this into the context of US corporate interest and some of the pieces of the puzzle start to fit together.

    While this book has excellent substance, I do feel Perkins resorts to a bit of self-aggrandizement. Its unlikely NSA especially profiled him to become an "EHM" and that they would send a liaison deep in the rain forests of Ecuador to recruit a 24 year old Peace Corp volunteer. In some other cases, Perkins alludes to a secret hand helping things fall into place to keep him from singing, like getting the funding for his company, or landing that generous retainership. These claims seems a bit too fantastical to me, but then, he did operate in a strange, deceptive world.

    Bottom-line: It's a 5-star book. It was compelling enough for me to write my first Amazon book review. Its engaging, honest and most importantly, takes solid aim at the US imperialism which has made the world increasingly polluted and unsafe....more info
  • Pompous twit
    What an incredible pompous twit. I wanted to strangle this guy, just from his writing style. Its as if he saved the world by writing this (really, really poorly written) book.

    The story is interesting. I have little doubt that a lot of it is true, but MY GOD, this guy cannot write at all....more info
  • a must read for every american
    Read it now.. see what we are doing to the world and her resources AND people. ...more info
  • Confessions of a mediocre book
    Interesting, but a little overly dramatic. I've been able to meet and have a pretty in-depth conversation with a former assistant director of the CIA, it does not appear to me that such a large organization can have such a cohesive and well thought out master plan. That is simply not how large complex organiztions behave....more info
  • Dark
    While Perkins writes about a dark reality of our economy and that of the overall Global Economy, I was frustrated with his multiple battles with his own conscience (usually as he lays on a Caribbean beach) only to get back into the system that has hurt so many. He sheds light on the evils of the IMF and World Bank, but it's hypocrital in that he got his "golden parachute" before exposing the system....more info
  • very important book
    This book lets us know a very important piece of truth about how the world works, in particular how the us works to gain control of other countries. Compulsary for any conscient individual in today's world....more info
  • Horribly slow
    The book was good. In nice condition and everything, but it took forever to ship. I needed it and ordered it two weeks in advance, and it got here after my we were supposed to have read the first two parts (three weeks after I ordered it), so needless to say, I had to go out and buy one from Waldenbooks before this one arrived. Three weeks to send a book is insane....more info
  • The book I had to read, but then wanted to finish
    I think this is a great book. I had to read different chapters for a class, but I liked it so much I decided to read the whole book. The writing is simple to read and understand, and the message and information within the chapters is powerful and very interesting. Not too many people know about the seedy underside of multinational corporations. This book brings that to light in a way that is interesting....more info
  • confessions of a boring sychophant
    I gave this worthless book to a friend so that he would have something to use as kindling in his fireplace. I cannot comprehend all of the adulatory reviews. Mr. Perkins advances our understanding of the gangsters out to destroy us not one iota.
    Readers and researchers would be much better served to purchase the books of the last great American patriot Eustace Mullins instead (Secrets of the Federal Reserve & The World Order).
    Mr. Mullins is a researcher without peer, and lays bare the nature and history of the true gangsters who are out to destroy us, fiscally and otherwise....
    ...more info