Join getAbstract to access the summary!

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

How John Perkins trapped developing countries in a web of greed, debt and war to benefit big U.S. corporations.

auto-generated audio
auto-generated audio

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


Author John Perkins is a little like one of those high-tech thieves who gives up his life of crime to enter a lucrative practice teaching police to thwart other criminals. Having admitted to wrongdoing while engaged in his first profession, he asks you to trust the sincere intentions underlying his second - namely, his role as a best-selling author and speaker exposing the greed and perfidy of the United States. "I sometimes suspected some sort of conspiracy was directed at me," Perkins writes. Indeed, he seems to live in an odd world framed by the cold reality of economic statistics on one side and a life in espionage that reads like fantasy on the other. This odd balance would seem to limit the credibility of his premise: that international economic consultants have formed a de facto alliance with the U.S. intelligence apparatus to economically and politically exploit the world’s disadvantaged nations. The book is an interesting read no matter how much credibility you invest in it. Perkins offers rare insights into behind-the-scenes mechanics of Third World debt and development. recommends it, with the caveat that it may reflect the influence of one of Perkins’ favorite authors, spy novelist Graham Greene.


The Hit Brigade

An invisible army of highly-paid Economic Hit Men (EHMs) marches with every single economic delegation and every bilateral state visit. Its members are disguised as analysts and statisticians, but they use sophisticated methods to cheat companies around the globe out of vast sums of money. They provide the arguments and calculations for expensive, complex projects that developing nations cannot afford. Then, their optimistic economic forecasts encourage the World Bank and other institutions to grant the credit needed.

The economic hit men will do anything to accomplish their ends, but when they fail, more nefarious, shadowy "CIA-sanctioned jackals" step in, wielding violent coups and "accidents." For example, two national leaders - Jaime Roldos of Ecuador and Omar Torrijos of Panama - died in fiery crashes, which were mostly likely jackal assassinations. Sometimes the jackals fail, too. Then young Americans become the marchers, in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

From Peace Corps to Hit Man

John Perkin’s early years reflected a narrow New Hampshire upbringing. He attended Middlebury College, graduated from Boston University and joined...

About the Author

John Perkins founded and later sold an alternative energy company. From 1971 to 1981, he was chief economist at an international consulting firm, where he was also manager of economics and regional planning. He says his real job was being an economic hit man, but he did not disclose that until after 9/11. He now teaches about achieving peace and prosperity by transforming institutions.

Comment on this summary