I am about done with Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (EHM) after reading it on a lovely Friday evening over Chicken Curry Noodle (with hot Chinese tea) and sipping my all time favorite, Caramel Macchiato at the new Queensbay Mall in Penang. There are two Starbucks within this mall - each at North and South Zone. I was in the Starbucks inside BORDERS. This Starbucks has few comfy sofas seated by the glass wall that overlook Pulau Jerejak and the nasty traffic on Penang Bridge on Friday evening.
I have been longing to read Thomas L. Friedman's The World Is Flat, and it seems like the perfect reading after John Perkin's Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. It'll transition you from Perkin's American corporatocracy imperialism 1963-present day to Friedman's award winning book talking about new form colonization of ideology, i.e. globalization.
In EHM, a tell-all first account experience; John brings us to his early childhood, youthful rebellious years to his interview with NSA, and later into Chas T. Main, Inc. (MAIN) - a consulting firm where spent many years of his life as economist, partner, and later Chief Economists.
Throughout his career, John had traveled to work in countries of strategic long term economic value to the United States. Yes, we are talking mostly about the black-gold-energy rush here. It was John job to forecast energy demand in developing countries such as Ecuador, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Panama to justify American loan and infrastructure-engineering construction. Equipped with complex tools such as econometrics model, economics data and statistics can be manipulated and skewed for inflating the forecast numbers.
His work is essential into inking agreements with these government that'd see major infrastructure development such as dam, electric dams, pipelines, etc. and forcing them to leverage on American banks loans and rewarding billion dollars contracts to engineering and construction firms.
" In essence, most of the money never leaves the United States; it is simply transferred from banking offices in Washington to engineering offices in New York, Houston, or San Francisco. "
Consequently, large amount of loans coupled with high interest rates only position these nations into servicing large amount of debts that accumulates over the years.
Unlike other MAIN economists, John is well mixed with the government leaders and locals. John came to symphatize the position of insurgence and hatred towards America form of imperialism that's coming to their nations; and interesting characters such as Rasy, Fidel, Paula, Yamin, came into play.
Perhaps my favorite part of this book is its historical important conflicts that are well told by John. It was almost like learning World Conflict 1963-Present Day 101. I learned a great deal about charatecters, ideologies, and conflicts that led to death, installment of puppets, wars, etc:
- Sukarno-Suharto power transfer in Indonesia,
- Panama's nationalist General Omar Torrijos that led to his plane crash death,
- Saudi Arabia's House of Saud's Prince W.,
- Iran's Shah of Shahs (King of Kings),
- Ecuador's Jaime Roldos Aguilera
- Iraq's Saddam Hussein
- Venezuela's Hugo Chavez
- America's transition from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan's Hollywood-CIA era, to George H. W. Bush, and to present day George W. Bush
Through meetings, acquaintances, friendships, and correspondence,; John came to realization his dilemma being in the middle position of his founding father's Tom Paine revolution ideology and the new corporatracy imperialism movement. Thus, making his decision to quit MAIN, focusing his energy to building new form of coal energy production, later working in another consulting firm, and finally decided to start writing book to tell his experience to the world.
John narrative spy-like style writing of these encounters make this an interesting reading. This book is a must-read non-fiction work. I can visualize this book becoming a film (the like of Lord of War) with the elements of economist James Bond and whiz-kid Forrest Gump.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand all the conflicts above and connecting the dots that matter.