Encore review: Confessions opens eyes

Editor’s note: Last year the People’s Weekly World ran a review by Heraclio Cabral on “The Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.” This book has opened many people’s eyes to the nuts and bolts of U.S. imperialism. We recently received a second review and for this reason we are running it here.

Economic Hit Men (EHM) are highly paid professionals who work for major corporations. Their business is to swindle countries out of billions of dollars by cajoling them into taking out loans with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund or the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Of course the interests that these loans incur are not only astronomical but also unpayable. Small countries such as Ecuador aren’t able to make the slightest dent in the interest payments. This is all contrived solely on the bases of acquiring natural resources, such as oil, coal, water, valuable gems, etc. When a country can’t pay its bond debt, it is then forced to sell off its resources. This is all in a day’s work for Mr. John Perkins.

Early years

In his book “Confessions of an Economic Hit-Man,” Perkins presents a life that is most striking. His story begins from early childhood when his father accepts a job teaching linguistics at the Tilton School in New Hampshire, a prep school for boys.

In 1965, Perkins enters Boston University’s College of Business Administration. Perkin’s soon-to-be wife introduces him to “Uncle Frank.” Frank works as an executive at the highest echelons of the National Security Agency. Uncle Frank takes a liking to Perkins and offers him a job. Perkins goes through preliminary training, which is perfectly fine to him, because this allows him to continue dodging the Vietnam draft.

From Uncle Frank to loan shark

Subsequent to Perkins’ training, he joins the Peace Corps with Uncle Franks’ blessing. This experience gives him an edge in business dealings around the world. He learns Spanish and works with indigenous peoples. What Perkins doesn’t realize is Uncle Frank is prepping him for his future job as an economic hit-man.

After his Peace Corp tour of duty finishes, Perkins becomes acquainted with Einar Greve, the vice president of MAIN. MAIN is a low-profile international consulting firm that sets up loans through institutions such as the World Bank. In the case of Ecuador and other Latin American countries, the loans are for building hydroelectric dams and other building projects. Perkins is offered a job at the firm and he accepts it, learning in various ways — including through sexual affairs — that he is expected to be an international loan shark.


Perkins’ tale also takes us into Indonesia where he receives an assignment in the capital city of Jakarta. It’s a poverty-stricken city and Perkins has to figure out how he is going to swindle them out of billions of dollars. He forces the Indonesian officials to accept loans they can’t possibly pay back.

Perkins comes in contact with cynical, old hands at MAIN and a native of Indonesia whose name is Rasy. Rasy takes Perkins for a guided tour of all the sights and sounds of Jakarta, while teaching him some Javanese and other local dialects. The hit-man begins feeling guilty when the political and economic plight of the people became clear.

Wake up call

In the whole scheme of this book, Perkins paints a catharsis that is not only the antecedent of events to come, but he also explains thoroughly just how seismic the problem of corporate greed is and how it affects the world around us. He also shows how the United States government hires individuals to work for companies such as Bechtel and Halliburton.

This book is not for the faint of heart. Perkins’ stories may seem rather phantasmal at times, but it is the real deal. Checkout his sources!

“Confessions of an Economic Hit-Man” is a must read for anyone who is interested in how the United States’ oligarchy conducts business around the world. Trust me. This book is not only a revelation, but also a wake-up call.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
By John Perkins
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2004
Paperback, 264 pp., $15.00