Saturday, February 23, 2013

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins

"Indeed, promoting capitalism often results in a system that resembles medieval feudal societies." 

"The loans of foreign aid will ensure that today's children and their grandchildren will be held hostage." 

John Perkins is a repentant capitalist who wants to blow the whistle on the American empire.  Much of this book is about his job as an "economic hit man."  An economic hit man is a person who works for an American construction firm (i.e. Haliburton, Bechtel or even oil companies) trying to secure lucrative projects abroad.  The Hit Men go to countries with economic or strategic potential and propose massive infrastructure projects with highly inflated growth projections.  The idea is that a dictator (or similarly unaccountable leader) will rack up a huge debt with some quasi-American financial source (IMF, World Bank etc.) to build these projects.  The money sources gladly hand over the money, especially given the overly optimistic economic growth models used to justify them by men like Perkins. The projects generally are only marginally beneficial to the population of the leader's country but extremely popular within the leader's family and political bases.  The debt, however, allows  for America (the ultimate lender of dollars in all cases) to hold considerable sway over the debtor country and their political decisions.  That sway leads to empire-like arrangements; a big example being extremely favorable contracts for western oil companies or military bases.The more intriguing part of the story occurs when some dictator begins to reject these contracts, like in Chile, Ecuardor, Panama and Iraq.  The consequences is a "convenient coup."

The beauty of this book is its consistent logic: cash rules everything. Everything else about this book sucked.  Perkins is sanctimonious - bordering on full of shit.  After railing about the disastrous situations he created for people of third-world nations, his come-to-jesus moment was quitting his job and starting an OIL COMPANY. His writing is repetitive and a bit boring - perhaps a fictionalized version would have been more readable and informative, ala John Grisham. The message, however, is important, so its probably like cough medicine and worth choking down.

Oh wait there's more.  Decided to make this a double-post.

A Law Unto Itself: The Untold Story of the Law Firm Sullivan & Cromwell - By Nancy Lisagor 

The secret, unauthorized history of my law firm and it's not pretty. I have no other comment about it. 

Read the "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" and you can imply the roles large multi-national firms play in this game of world domination.  According to this author, S&C has been playing this role for almost 150 years. But, officially, none of what Ms. Lisagor said is true (even though it seems well-researched).

Anyway, don't read this book. Don't.