top of page

What is an 'economic hit man'?

“I could go to a leader and I could say, ‘Hey, in this hand I've got, in today's terms it would be billions of dollars, for you and your family. You're going to make a lot of money if you take this on. And if you decide not to, in this hand I got a gun.’”

John Perkins’ 2004 book, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” spent 73 weeks on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list and has been translated into 32 languages.

The 2016 update, “New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” brought the story of economic hit men and jackal assassins up to date and chillingly home to the U.S.

Perkins’ latest book, Touching the Jaguar: Transforming Fear into Action to Change Your Life and the World, details how shamanism, learned in the rain forests of Ecuador, converted him from an “economic hit man” to an activist for transforming what he calls a “failing Death Economy” into a thriving “Life Economy.”

So what is, exactly, an “economic hit man”? Perkins explained in a recent interview with Freedom Media Network founder Curt Mercadante.

“Well, my actual title was Chief Economist at a major international consulting firm,” said Perkins. “I had a staff of anywhere from 30 to 50 people at various times. My job really was an economic hit man.”

Perkins said his job was to “identify countries that had resources that corporations want like oil and then convince the leaders of those countries to accept huge loans from the World Bank and other United States controlled organizations.”

He added,”But the money didn't go to the countries. Instead, it paid our corporations. It gave them huge profits, in fact, to build big infrastructure projects in those countries, things like electric power systems, industrial parks, ports, airports, roads, things that ultimately made our companies rich but also helped a few rich families in those countries.”

In “Confessions,” Perkins described economic hit men (EHMs) 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.”

“At the beginning, I thought I was doing the right thing because in business school you're taught that when you make these kinds of investments, the GDP, which we use as the measure of national prosperity, increases,” he explained. “So, we're taught this, and I believed that this was the case. But over time I began to see that those statistics are basically totally skewed in favor of the wealthy. GDP is not a measure of overall prosperity. It's a measure of how the rich are doing, the ones who produce the goods and services that are reflected there. So, while these loans, these huge loans, we're helping the rich in those countries, they were diverting money to pay off the interest on the loan from education, healthcare, and other social services.”

Perkins said that his job was to convince the foreign leaders of the perception that the loans would help the countries.

“In the end, the countries could never pay off the loans. So, we go back in, and then say, ‘Well, we'll restructure the loan under the guise of the International Monetary Fund, but you've got to sell your resource, your oil, whatever, real cheap to our corporations,’ and a lot of other conditions,” he said. “I was helping to create the perception that taking these loans would help the country. In the greater reality, which was basically a colonialism, a global colonialism, where we were colonizing these countries, and some of their own leaders were colonizing them also.”

And if the work of the EHMs didn’t work, Perkins said the “jackals” would be sent in.

“Well, that's (“jackals) the euphemism, I guess you'd call it, that we use for people, usually CIA assets, who go into a country and assassinate the leaders or take them out in a coup if they don't play this game with us,” he said. “Unfortunately, the United States has been very involved in that, and we've admitted to it. Henry Kissinger Secretary of State and many others have admitted to the fact that the CIA was deeply involved in the overthrow and in the death of Salvador Allende of Chile and Árbenz of Guatemala and Lumumba of the Congo and Mosaddegh of Iran and Diem of Vietnam and on and on, most recently in 2009, Zelaya of Honduras.”

Perkins continued, “I could go to a leader and I could say, ‘Hey, in this hand I've got, in today's terms it would be billions of dollars, for you and your family. You're going to make a lot of money if you take this on. And if you decide not to, in this hand I got a gun.’”

The figurative “gun” he mentions was in the form of the jackals. Perkins specifically mentioned two of his former clients, “the democratically elected president of Ecuador, Jaime Roldós, a country where I had been a Peace Corp volunteer and became a client of mine, and Omar Torrijos of Panama,” who “were both taken down in private plane crashes that they were in separately.”

“Leaders of countries are extremely aware of the vulnerable position they're in,” he said.

Watch Perkins’ full conversation with Mercadante by clicking here.

9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page