Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

I ordered this provocatively titled book from amazon.ca today after listening to an extended interview with its author, John Perkins. The interview was conducted by Amy Goodman and posted to the Democracy Now! website. Here's a taste:

[My job] was giving loans to other countries, huge loans, much bigger than they could possibly repay. One of the conditions of the loan–let's say a $1 billion to a country like Indonesia or Ecuador–and this country would then have to give ninety percent of that loan back to a U.S. company, or U.S. companies, to build the infrastructure–a Halliburton or a Bechtel. These were big ones. Those companies would then go in and build an electrical system or ports or highways, and these would basically serve just a few of the very wealthiest families in those countries. The poor people in those countries would be stuck ultimately with this amazing debt that they couldn’t possibly repay.

A country today like Ecuador owes over fifty percent of its national budget just to pay down its debt. And it really can’t do it. So, we literally have them over a barrel. So, when we want more oil, we go to Ecuador and say, “Look, you're not able to repay your debts, therefore give our oil companies your Amazon rain forest, which are filled with oil.” And today we're going in and destroying Amazonian rain forests, forcing Ecuador to give them to us because they’ve accumulated all this debt. So we make this big loan, most of it comes back to the United States, the country is left with the debt plus lots of interest, and they basically become our servants, our slaves. It's an empire. There's no two ways about it. It’s a huge empire. It's been extremely successful.

I'm not sure why any of this surprises me anymore. The only thing that should surprise me is that the US could "literally" have Ecuador over a barrel. Perhaps Perkins means a few billion barrels. Of oil. 4.63 billion to be exact. After decades of being seduced by "sex, money, and power," Perkins finally had a crisis of conscience prompting him to publish the book he long contemplated writing. I can't wait to read Confessions, despite the fact that it was written by an economist.


Anonymous said...

I'm still getting through A Fine Balance and am really interested in reading this. You're right - it's not surprising, but it is so troublesome that these destructive activities are becoming so mainstream and it seems no one blinks an eye. I'm loving Balance although it's taken me awhile. Don't know whether I should read The Life of Pi or this next. Have a soft spot for economists.

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