[The Rothschild Chain]:
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is John Perkins' fast-paced autobiography, which reveals his career as an economist for an international consulting firm. Perkins says he was actually an "Economic Hit Man." His job was to convince countries that are strategically important to the United States to accept enormous loans for infrastructure development and to make sure that the lucrative projects were contracted to U.S. corporations.
Perkins takes the reader through his career and explains how he created economic projections for countries to accept billions of dollars in loans they surely couldn't afford. He shares his battle with his conscience over these actions and offers advice for how Americans can work to end these practices which have directly resulted in terrorist attacks and animosity towards the United States.
What Is An Economic Hit Man?
Perkins defines economic hit men as "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 include 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."
In Perkins' case, he was hired as an economist for the international consulting firm of Chas. T. Main, Inc. (MAIN). He was told in confidential meetings with "special consultant" to the company Claudine Martin that he had two primary objectives:
1. He was supposed to justify huge loans for countries. These loans would be for major engineering and construction projects, which were to be carried out by MAIN and other U.S. companies such as Bechtel, Halliburton, Stone & Webster and Brown & Root.
2. He was supposed to help bankrupt the countries that received these loans after the U.S. companies involved had been paid. This would make sure that these countries would remain in debt to their creditors and would then be easy targets when the U.S. needed favors such as military bases, UN votes and access to natural resources like oil.
Perkins' job was to produce economic growth projections that would make the case for a variety of major projects. If the U.S. decided to lend a country money, Perkins would compare the economic benefits of different projects such as power plants or telecommunications systems. He would then produce reports that showed the economic growth the country would experience due to these projects. These economic growth projections needed to be high enough to justify the loans. Otherwise, the loans would be denied.
The gross national product (GNP) was always the most important factor in these economic projections. The project expected to increase the GNP the most would be chosen. In the cases where there was only one project under consideration, it needed to be shown that the project would greatly benefit the GNP. Luckily for the economic hit man, GNP figures can be quite deceptive. "For instance, the growth of GNP may result even when it profits only one person, such as an individual who owns a utility company, while the majority of the population is burdened with debt."
All of these projects were meant to make huge profits for the contractors. The U.S. engineering and construction companies involved would be assured of great wealth. At the same time, a few wealthy families and influential leaders in the receiving countries would become very happy and very rich thanks to these loans. The leaders of these countries would also have bolstered political power because they were credited with bringing industrial parks, power plants and airports to their people.
The problem is that these countries simply cannot handle the debt of these loans and their poorest citizens are deprived of health, education and other social services for several decades as these countries struggle economically to overcome their huge debts. Meanwhile, the huge American media conglomerates portray these projects as favors being provided by the United States. American citizens in general have no trouble believing these messages, and in fact are led to perceive that these actions are unselfish acts of international goodwill.
Ultimately, due to the large debts, the U.S. is able to draw on these countries for political, economic and military favors whenever desired. And of course, the U.S. corporations involved with the expensive projects become extremely wealthy.
The U.S. Government's Role
Economic hit men [EHM] don't actually work for a United States government organization such as the Central Intelligence Agency. The risk with such a direct association is obvious. For example, if an EHM was working to put a country in debt to the U.S. with the main reason being for favorable military and political positions against the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union would be quite likely to take military action against the U.S. if that EHM were found to be working for the U.S. government. In the 1960s, America found a way to use economic hitmen without directly implicating Washington.
It was during the 1960s that we saw the empowerment of international corporations and multinational organizations such as the World Bank. This allowed for governments, corporations and multinational organizations to form mutually beneficial relationships. United States intelligence agencies were able to use these relationships to their advantage.
Government organizations such as the National Security Agency (NSA) were now able to screen for potential economic hitmen (as they did with Perkins) and then have them hired by international corporations such as MAIN.
"These economic hitmen would never be paid by the government; instead, they would draw their salaries from the private sector. As a result, their dirty work, if exposed, would be chalked up to corporate greed rather than to government policy. In addition, the corporations that hired them, although paid by government agencies and their multinational banking counterparts (with taxpayer money), would be insulated from congressional oversight and public scrutiny, shielded by a growing body of legal initiatives, including trademark, international trade, and Freedom of Information laws."
Perkins' Story of Being Recruited as an Economic Hit Man
Perkins married a former college classmate in 1967. A good friend of her father's, referred to as "Uncle Frank", was a top-echelon executive at the NSA. Uncle Frank immediately took a liking to Perkins and informed him that a job with the NSA would make him eligible for draft deferment, meaning he could avoid fighting in the Vietnam War.
After extensive interviews with the NSA, Perkins was offered a job, but declined it to instead join the Peace Corps. Surprisingly, Uncle Frank supported this decision, largely because it meant that Perkins would have the opportunity to go to Ecuador and live with the indigenous people of the Amazon region.
It was with the Peace Corps in Ecuador when a vice president of Chas. T. Main, Inc. approached Perkins about working for MAIN. The man explained that he sometimes acted as an NSA liaison, which made this job opportunity a perfect fit for Perkins, who had intended on accepting the NSA job when his Peace Corps tour was over.
Upon returning to the U.S., Perkins was hired as an economist for MAIN. He was told that MAIN's primary business was engineering, but that their biggest client, the World Bank, had insisted that the company keep economists employed in order to produce the "critical economic forecasts used to determine the feasibility and magnitude of engineering projects."
Shortly after being hired, Perkins was trained confidentially by Claudine Martin, a special consultant to MAIN. It was Martin who explained to Perkins what his real job was. It was Martin who explained that he was now an "Economic Hit Man" and that once he accepted this job, he could never leave it.