An economic hitman, as defined by John Perkins, is someone who convinces foreign countries to take on overwhelming debt in the form of loans from international organizations like the World Bank. The debt serves as a means of cementing U.S. control over the governments of those countries, and insuring that the bulk of the loans are funneled back to U.S. multinational corporations.
The original Confessions of An Economic Hitman was published in 2004. This updated edition includes chapters on the author’s experiences from 2004 through 2015.
Perkins documents his international travels and experiences starting in the late 1960s, when he worked as a economist creating models to project estimated GNP growth created by foreign countries taking on massive debt. In many cases, Perkins says the growth was exaggerated. When the projected GNP gains didn’t materialize, the countries missed loan payments, giving the U.S. and its corporations leverage to exert their control. If foreign leaders failed to cooperate, the CIA often organized assassinations or coups to remove them. If those efforts failed, the U.S. military intervened.
What concerned me about this book was the couple of chapters that dealt with the housing market crash and recession. Similar principles were put to work in the U.S., where mortgage lenders loaned money to applicants who were totally unqualified to borrow money. They also urged home buyers to purchase more expensive homes than they could afford. As we saw in The Big Short, it did not take long for those bad loans to go delinquent, bankrupting many individuals and bringing down some major financial entities.
The writing is a bit dry, but if you have an interest in the subject matter, I would recommend this book.