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Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is a book written by John Perkins and published in 2004. It provides Perkins' account of his career with consulting firm Chas. T. Main in Bostonmarker. Before employment with the firm, he interviewed for a job with the National Security Agencymarker (NSA). Perkins claims that this interview effectively constituted an independent screening which led to his subsequent hiring by Einar Greve, a member of the firm (and alleged NSA liaison) to become a self-described "economic hit man". The book was allegedly referred to in an audio tape released by Osama Bin Laden in September 2009.


Perkins began writing Confessions of an Economic Hit Man in the 1980s. In the book, he states that, "Threats or bribes always convinced me to stop".

"Covertly recruited by the United States National Security Agency and on the payroll of an international consulting firm, he traveled the world—to Indonesiamarker, Panamamarker, Ecuadormarker, Colombiamarker, Saudi Arabiamarker, Iranmarker and other strategically important countries...Perkins reveals the hidden mechanics of imperial control behind some of the most dramatic events in recent history, such as the fall of the Shah of Iran, the death of Panamanian president Omar Torrijos, and the U.S. invasions of Panama and Iraqmarker."

According to his book, Perkins' function was to convince the political and financial leadership of underdeveloped countries to accept enormous development loans from institutions like the World Bank and USAID. Saddled with huge debts they could not hope to pay, these countries were forced to acquiesce to political pressure from the United Statesmarker on a variety of issues. Perkins argues in his book that developing nations were effectively neutralized politically, had their wealth gaps driven wider and economies crippled in the long run. In this capacity Perkins recounts his meetings with some prominent individuals, including Graham Greene and Omar Torrijos. Perkins describes the role of an EHM as follows:

Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly-paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars.
They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S.
Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign "aid" organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet's natural resources.
Their tools included fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder.
They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization.

The epilogue to the 2006 edition provides a rebuttal to the current move by the G8 nations to forgive Third World debt. Perkins charges that the proposed conditions for this debt forgiveness require countries to sell their health, education, electric, water and other public services to corporations. Those countries would also have to discontinue subsidies and trade restrictions that support local business, but accept the continued subsidization of certain G8 businesses by the US and other G8 countries, and the erection of trade barriers on imports that threaten G8 industries.

In the book, Perkins repeatedly denies the existence of a "conspiracy." Instead, Perkins carefully discusses the role of corporatocracy.

Controversy and criticism

Perkins's first boss at Chas. T. Main, Einar Greve, initially declared to journalists that "basically [Perkins's] story is true" and that "what John's book says is, there was a conspiracy to put all these countries on the hook, and that happened. Whether or not it was some sinister plot or not is up to interpretation..." Subsequently, he denied Perkins's allegation that he ever worked as a liaison with the NSA and contradicted other claims made in Perkins's book, stating that Perkins "has convinced himself that a lot of this stuff is true." Perkins comments on Greve's change of heart in the epilogue of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. He points out that Greve initially supported the truth of the book, only to switch his opinion several months later. Perkins suggests that Greve was pressured by outside forces to denounce the book as false.

Columnist Sebastian Mallaby disputes many of Perkins' arguments, including Perkins' claim that 51 of the world's 100 "largest economies" are companies, rather than countries; a value-added comparison done by the UN, he says, shows the number to be 29. This comparison can be done oneself by looking at List of countries by GDP and List of companies by revenue which gives a rough answer of 46 for the year 2007 / 2008. If one looks at 2000, however, the number was 51. Though in such a list, the corporations' revenue should subtract from countries' total revenue.

Articles in the New York Times and Boston Magazine, as well as a press release issued by the United States Department of Statemarker, have referred to a lack of documentary or testimonial evidence to corroborate the claim that the NSA was involved in his hiring to Chas T. Main. In addition, the author of the State Department release states that the NSA "is a cryptological (codemaking and codebreaking) organization, not an economic organization" and that its missions do not involve "anything remotely resembling placing economists at private companies in order to increase the debt of foreign countries."

Documentary Film

In 2009, the documentary film Confessions of an Economic Hit Man featuring interviews with Perkins, was shown at film festivals around the U.S. The film is a Greekmarker- U.S. co-production directed by Stelios Kouloglou, and was filmed in 2007 and 2008.


  2. Tkacik, Maureen, " The True Confessions of an Economic Hit Man", Boston Magazine, July 2005, retrieved on 2009-11-10.
  3. The Facts Behind the 'Confessions' by Sebastian Mallaby, Washington Post Op-Ed, 2006-02-26.
  4. Confessions – or Fantasies – of an Economic Hit Man?, US Department of State, 2006-05-10.

Additional reading

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