John Perkins (author)

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For other people named John Perkins, see John Perkins (disambiguation).
John Perkins
Perkins in November 2009
Born (1945-01-28) January 28, 1945 (age 70)
Hanover, New Hampshire, United States
Nationality American
Ethnicity Caucasian
Alma mater Boston University (B.S.)
Notable works Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2004)
Spouse Divorced
Children Jessica (b. May 1982)

John Perkins (born January 28, 1945) is an American author. His best known book is Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2004), in which Perkins claims to have played a role in an alleged process of economic colonization of Third World countries on behalf of what he portrays as a cabal of corporations, banks, and the United States government. This book spent more than 70 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been published in at least 32 languages, and is used in many college and university programs.

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 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. I should know; I was an EHM.”
— John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Perkins has also written about mystical aspects of indigenous cultures, including shamanism.


Perkins graduated from the Tilton School in 1963. He subsequently attended Middlebury College for two years before dropping out. He later earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Boston University in 1968. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador from 1968 to 1970. He spent the 1970s working for the Boston strategic-consulting firm Chas. T. Main; he claims to have been screened for this job by the National Security Agency (NSA) and subsequently hired by Einar Greve,[1] a member of the firm (alleged by Perkins to have been acting as an NSA liaison, a claim which Greve has denied).

As Chief Economist at Chas. T. Main, Perkins and his staff advised the World Bank, United Nations, IMF, U.S. Treasury Department, Fortune 500 corporations, and countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. He worked directly with heads of state and CEOs of major companies. Perkins's time at Chas T. Main provides the basis for his subsequent published claims that, as an "economic hit man", he was charged with inducing developing countries to borrow large amounts of money, designated to pay for questionable infrastructure investments, but ultimately with a view to making the debt-laden countries more dependent, economically and politically, upon the West.

In the 1980s Perkins left Main and founded and directed an independent energy company. In the book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Perkins claims that his company was successful due to 'coincidences' orchestrated by those appreciative of his silence about the work he says he did as an economic hit man.

Perkins is a founder and board member of Dream Change and The Pachamama Alliance, nonprofit organizations devoted to promoting environmentally sustainable and socially just societies. He has lectured at Harvard, Oxford, and more than 50 universities around the world, and is the author of eight books on global economics and indigenous cultures. He has been featured on ABC, NBC, CNN, CNBC, NPR, A&E, the History Channel, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Der Spiegel, and many other publications, as well as in numerous documentaries. He was awarded the Lennon Ono Grant for Peace 2012, and Rainforest Action Network Challenging Business As Usual Award, 2006.

Perkins's story is the main theme in part II of the movie Zeitgeist: Addendum, released in October 2008. In that same year, he appeared in the film, The End of Poverty?. His life as an economic hit man is detailed in the full-length movie, Apology of an Economic Hit Man. He also appears in the films The Weight of Chains by Boris Malagurski, released in December 2010, Let's Make Money (in German) by the Austrian director Erwin Wagenhofer, released October 2008, and Four Horsemen by Ross Ashcroft, released in 2012.[2]


Sebastian Mallaby, economics columnist of the Washington Post, reacted sharply to Perkins' book:[3] describing him as "a conspiracy theorist, a vainglorious peddler of nonsense, and yet his book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, is a runaway bestseller." Mallaby, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, holds that Perkins' conception of international finance is "largely a dream" and that his "basic contentions are flat wrong."[3] As an example, Mallaby states that Indonesia reduced its infant mortality and illiteracy rates by two-thirds after economists persuaded its leaders to borrow money in 1970.[3] Perkins points out that the gap between rich and poor and the number of impoverished people in Indonesia and many other countries has increased greatly as a result of the loans, that the rich benefited and the middle class and poor suffered.

Articles in the New York Times[4] and Boston magazine, as well as a press release issued by the United States Department of State, have referred to a lack of documentary or testimonial evidence to corroborate the claim that the NSA was involved in his hiring by Chas T. Main. However, after an extensive investigation, the New York Times concluded that “The arc of Mr. Perkins's career seems to be described accurately.”[4]

In a 2006 statement, a State Department release claims that much of the book "appears to be a total fabrication....the National Security Agency is a cryptological (codemaking and codebreaking) organization, not an economic organization... Neither of [its] missions anything remotely resembling placing economists at private companies in order to increase the debt of foreign countries." Perkins responds that Wikileaks and Edward Snowden documents clearly demonstrated that the NSA is involved in a wide range of activities that have nothing to do with codemaking and codebreaking and that often serve to undermine other countries and their leaders. (The National Security Administration has several missions, including but not limited to cryptography).The State Department also claims that Perkins has alleged U.S. Government complicity in "the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., former Beatle John Lennon, and several unnamed U.S. senators who had died in plane crashes.".[5] Questioned in a recorded interview about the State Department claims on the assassinations, Perkins replied, "No, I've never alleged that. I probably opened a question as to whether it might have been that way".[6] There is no mention in any of his books about U.S. Government complicity in these assassinations. Perkins, however, does allege that two of his clients, President Jaime Roldós Aguilera of Ecuador and Omar Torrijos of Panama, had been assassinated and the US government had been involved, adding "I know. I was there."[6]


Perkins's books on mystical aspects of indigenous cultures, including shamanism, include:

Appearances in documentary films[edit]

  • The American Ruling Class (2005)
  • Speaking Freely Volume 1: John Perkins (2007)
  • Confessions of an Economic Hitman (2007)
  • On The Line (2007)
  • The End of Poverty? (2008)
  • Zeitgeist: Addendum (2008)
  • Let's Make Money (2008)
  • Fall of the Republic: The Presidency of Barack H. Obama (2009)
  • The Weight of Chains (2010)
  • Four Horsemen (2012)
  • American Empire (2012)
  • Money & Life (2012)
  • Project Censored the Movie (2013)
  • Gold Fever (2013)


  1. ^ "The Veracity of John Perkins' Accounts" Memo by Steven Piersanti, President and Publisher, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. March 7, 2005
  2. ^ Four Horsemen Film, retrieved 31 March 2013 
  3. ^ a b c The Facts Behind the 'Confessions' by Sebastian Mallaby, Washington Post Op-Ed, 2006-02-26
  4. ^ a b Thomas Jr., Landon (19 February 2006). "Confessioning to the Converted". New York Times. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  5. ^ "Confessions – or Fantasies – of an Economic Hit Man? Purported links to National Security Agency appear dubious". US Department of State. 2 February 2006. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Interview with David Pakman". Retrieved 16 March 2014. 

External links[edit]