Book Summary: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man - by John Perkins

December 20, 2017

confessions of an economic hitman summaryGenre: Political & Social   Author : John Perkins  I  Publisher : Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Published in: 2004  I  Pages : 250p  I  ISBN : 0-452-28708-1  
Confessions of an economic hitman summary

Its a gripping tale of America's power game over helpless and defenseless third world countries. From the U.S. military in Iraq to infrastructure development in Indonesia, from Peace Corps volunteers in Africa to Jackals in Venezuela, Perkins exposes the evil - of international corporate skullduggery, through his real-life story. He also suggests how we can work together to create a more peaceful and stable world for future generations.

Here's confessions of an economic hitman summary in short:


John Perkins explains the term “Economic Hit Man” as a highly paid professionals, hired by the U.S corporations whose task was to:
  • go into developing countries and assess their need for engineering & infrastructure developments; 
  • convince local leaders (of developing countries) to accept massive loans from World Bank for their infrastructure development;
  • And very importantly, ensure that those projects were contracted to U.S Corporations. So that those countries will remain indebted and the U.S will be able to control their resources/markets and economies.
Through this autobiography, Perkins confesses himself as one of such Economic Hit Man, who worked 9 years for a Boston based consulting group Chas. T. Main Inc.

Perkin’s first project took him to Indonesia, which was rich in oil resources, but lagged in infrastructure. Perkins was successful in making proposals for new power plants and distributions systems on a huge loan from USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and other International banks- who will pay the American corporations to build those projects.

During his studies in Indonesia, his chiefs in Main.Inc were constantly advising him to give a superior economic forecast of solid 17% GDP so that they can pump a huge loan without many questions. Whereas his former colleague - Howard Parker told them that their projects can get only a maximum of 7-9% growth and 17% is totally unrealistic.

But in the final report, Perkins pleased his chiefs with 17-20% growth rate projections. This made Perkins to get promoted as “Chief Economist” in his company, and apparently, Howard Parker was fired👊!

In 1972, He moved to Panama to make multi-billion investment proposals in the area of energy, transportation, and agricultural sectors. During his assignment, Perkins closely worked with the then Panama’s president “Omar Torrijos”. Challengingly, Omar was well aware of USA’s plan; he knew exactly how the game of “Economic Hitman” will be played on his country. So, he right-ways rejected the development projects of Perkins.

In fact, Omar wanted to regain full control of the Panama canals by themselves and expand its efficiency to accommodate bigger ships, with the help of Japan (who was the primary client using the Panama root canals). He strongly believed that this would grow the economy of Panama. But he’s also set-back by the fact that this would make the “Bechtel Group, Inc” angry! (Betchal is a U.S Construction company which closely connected to Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush) and may even the Panama to be perceived as anti-American!.

Using this situation, Perkins made a peculiar deal that, his company (Main Inc) would help Panama to be recognized as an independent country and to pacify😏 the Bechtel Group; In return, Panama would get the funding from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Around 1973 period, when the United States started supporting Israel enormously with financial aids, all the OPEC (oil-producing countries) made the "oil embargo" against the U.S. Though the embargo was short-lived, the treat of Oil supply to the U.S made oil prices to raise in multi-folds. Obviously, the Wall Street and White-house wanted to protect the U.S oil supplies by using Saudi Arabia as their trump card.

Again, it was Perkins on the job (one among the many) to bring-in those billions of dollars as the investment in Saudi’s infrastructure. However, his job objective was different this time. He was not expected to drain Saudi with loans it could never repay, but to "assure that a large portion of petrodollars found their way back to the United States."

This is the game changer in the history; making Saudi always depend on the U.S dollars whereas the USD can get stable & wealthier than ever. This is also the story how the religiously conservative SA became more "open" and materialistic!

During 1978-1979, he could visualize what would happen in Iran. On the other hand, he also started realizing more on, how he was "used" and what cruelty he’s doing to rest of the world. The U. S’s domination in the local politics, policy changes, Iranian people’s hatred towards America, all took Perkins towards the peak of depression and he quit his job in 1980.

In the 80’s, though Perkins was not working, he still was closely watching the movements on Iraq. The U.S wanted to play the same EHM game on Iraq, same as they successfully imposed on Saudi Arabia and Iran. But Saddam Hussein did not buy-in the EHM, hence the U.S did not want to wait further and took the “War” route. Perkins calls even the war was a failure and the U.S had to take the EHM tool for the second time when they invaded Iraq again in 2003.

Struggling with depression and Conscience, Perkins started confessing his work everywhere; he even started writing the first copy of this same book, but stopped due to bribe and threats! He claims that he couldn’t resist anymore after the 9/11 events, hence finished this book and published soon after.

In the end, as a reader we all understand that it's not just America, almost all the "First World" and "Capitalistic" countries did (or even still doing) the same to third world countries. 

Perkins says,  "It's very important that we the people of the world come together and help the human-kind and global peace. I want cheap petroleum; if that means destroying a third world country or the Amazon rainforest, I'll just look the other way. Until we realize that corporations are calling the shots and not the governments and that we are empowering this system, it will continue as is. We have to put pressure on these corporations to become compassionate, good world citizens. In this era of the Internet, I think we have a tremendous opportunity to do that now and make some changes."

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  1. Very good summary, reflects the thoughts of Perkins in short and crisp.

    I don't know why I keep reading books like this...I only get more and more depressed about the state of the world. Perkins' story is well told and it kept me interested throughout. Would recommend to anyone.

  2. I had no idea but it makes so much sense and is highly disturbing!

  3. This is my kind of book. Sounds good.