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A Game as Old as Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption

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John Perkins's sensational New York Times bestseller Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (more than 300,000 sold) revealed just the tip of the iceberg of the secret world of economic hit men and the web of global corruption. Now more economic hit men and investigators tell the whole shocking story. John Perkins's sensational New York Times bestseller Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (more than 300,000 sold) revealed just the tip of the iceberg of the secret world of economic hit men and the web of global corruption. Now more economic hit men and investigators tell the whole shocking story.


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John Perkins's sensational New York Times bestseller Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (more than 300,000 sold) revealed just the tip of the iceberg of the secret world of economic hit men and the web of global corruption. Now more economic hit men and investigators tell the whole shocking story. John Perkins's sensational New York Times bestseller Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (more than 300,000 sold) revealed just the tip of the iceberg of the secret world of economic hit men and the web of global corruption. Now more economic hit men and investigators tell the whole shocking story.

30 review for A Game as Old as Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption

  1. 4 out of 5

    Siddharth

    This book is everything that it claims to be on the book jacket. It "uncovers the inner workings of the institutions behind these economic manipulations". In particular, it looks at some of the incredibly global institutions that are name dropped in a lot of contexts: World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization. There are several stories here about loans that were given to countries which were supposed to build schools or upgrade the city hall building of a bustling This book is everything that it claims to be on the book jacket. It "uncovers the inner workings of the institutions behind these economic manipulations". In particular, it looks at some of the incredibly global institutions that are name dropped in a lot of contexts: World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization. There are several stories here about loans that were given to countries which were supposed to build schools or upgrade the city hall building of a bustling city or one of a myriad of other reasons but never did that or help the people the money was supposed to help in any way. I must admit that it was a pretty shocking revelation at several points. In particular, we get stories from the people in the field, the rank and file of organizations like the World Bank who are going abroad to assess if a given loan should be sanctioned or a banker who used to work in an island that was being used for offshore banking. They tell stories about how their job affected the places that they were working in or the places they went to in Africa (this book focuses a lot on some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa) or about the ways in which the management and people above them were basically apathetic to the consequences of the things that their jobs were enabling. These stories are all backed up with actual data from reports or news articles which show the outcomes of the things that are discussed. I particularly liked that the book doesn't work as a list of testimonials where the reader is simply supposed to believe the people who are telling the story and the editor and not really question where they got their data. This was a refreshing non-fiction book about global economics, in that sense. I learnt a lot of things about the global economy. The chapter on offshore banking in Jersey, Englang, the chapter on exploitation of the Iraqi people and government in the name of "Production Sharing Agreements", the chapter about the strange policies that were implemented in Philippines despite continued realizations at different levels of the heirarchy that whatever they were doing was simply not working. The most important insights for me came in the 11th Chapter by James S. Henry, The Mirage of Debt Relief. This chapter really shook me and my assumptions about national debt. I didn't know much about national debt before I started reading the book, but my belief was that having high foreign debt was quite common in most economies and that it wasn't really something to think much about because "banks and governments don't default on loans"! This assumption of mine was completely blown out of the water by the things that Henry shows in this chapter. On the Debt/Capital Flight cycle Debt goes to the Finance ministry of a government with no oversight or accountability to the tax payer. This capital is either wasted on projects that are intentionally priced above the market rate or is fleeced by the people inside the government or companies with close ties to people high up in the government who are supposedly working on "development projects" The fleeced capital is moved out of the country through a web of offshore investments contributing to capital flight. This is powered by clever, high priced lawyers and bankers who are working on islands like Jersey, England (a previous chapter) The country is left holding the bag: An unproductive loan that taxpayers have to pay interest on as debt service, each year. The principal will almost certainly not be paid for several years. The existence of this cycle might appear to be semi-obvious if you have followed the trajectory of some countries and their economies: They get huge loans from the World Bank or from a group of foreign lenders, but the money never ends up making any difference. Eventually, the country gets a follow-up loan or everyone gives up on the country's economy. Corruption and transparency issues are pegged as the root cause of this problem. Here's the sitch: The debt-based development model doesn't work when it comes to low-middle income countries where the government is a weak institution and almost always over-run by corruption. The World Bank model of neo-liberalism peddles the "free-market" as the silver bullet which is going to solve all the problems that plague the lower income economies of the world. But the problem with this model is that it is focused on lending to the government, reducing the government's role in the economy, bringing in private players for local services and foreign investment for new industries, effectively reducing the government to a license-issuing institution with no real power to set policy or even the minimum wage that should be paid to citizens or even control the amount of local labor that must be used for a given project. In search of the free-market, the government has just accepted World Bank advise and reduced it's own role and made itself weaker. This makes it even more simpler for corrupt individuals to take over the government and fleece future and past loans even more efficiently! This kicks off the cycle which leads to a small elite who control the government, are extremely rich, keep their assets safely in First World economies in offshore investments, thus ensuring that anyone that the loan was originally meant for will never benefit from it. Export Credit Agencies The list of projects that were funded by ECAs from across the First World is quite long and each project has it's own problems. As the author of this chapter (chapter 10), Bruce Rich, introduces a lot of issues with ECAs: Lack of oversight, lack of accountability to the tax payer even though they can enjoy the benefits of tax money and the government's clout, an impenetrable curtain of secrecy that ensures that they don't even have to publish the list of projects that they approved and funded! The author uses a phrase that can be used in several situations including while describing the development that was supposed to come from the huge loans that have been sanctioned over the past few years to the lower income countries: perpetually around the corner There are some important numbers and a little bit of discussion about why China, India and Korea had some structural, geographical and political advantages and thus were able to mostly ignore advise from the IMF and outright reject the neo-liberalism that is being peddled as the "road to development". I could not find anything problematic about the book. The sources are extensive and most of the facts that are not just personal experiences are backed up with official sources. My reading list after reading this book has a couple of papers about ECAs and how economists in the First World view them. The one thing that might threw me at first was how old all the data was. Reading the introduction gives some background on this, it appears as if this book has been around for a while but wasn't published by anyone because no one wanted to touch a book that was flaty critical about the global economic system and what had basically become a cartel of the richest countries bending loans and lower income countries to their will. Quotes China and India alone account for about $500 billion of this developing country "present value debt." Both countries have been careful about foreign borrowing, and they have also largely ignored IMF / World Bank policy advice. The result is that their foreign debt burdens are small relative to national income. Both countries -- partly because they refuse the follow orthodox neoliberal policies -- now have high growth economies and large stockpiles of foreign reserves. -- p.222 The fundamental problem, glossed over by some debt-relief campaigners and conventional "end poverty now" economists, is that comabting poverty is not just a question of providing malaria nets, vaccinces, and drinking water, or incremental increases in education, capital, technology and aid. Ultimately, as China's example shows, long-term poverty reductions requires the promotion of deep-seated structural change. This implies the redistribution of social assets like land, education, technology, and political power. These are concepts that BWI [Bretton Woods Institutions] technocrats may never understand -- or may recoil from in horro. But they are the root of every major development success story that we know. -- p.254

  2. 4 out of 5

    Justin Tapp

    This book is a compilation of essays written by former international bankers, development economists, foreign aid workers, and others. It's about offshore banking, bad loan schemes, "debt relief," tax evasion, incompetent World Bank projects. It's about the people who profit from these things, and the developing countries who get hosed by them. I thought about writing a post entitled "Who was raped in order to make your cellphone?" One chapter explains the war in the Congo and the quest for an el This book is a compilation of essays written by former international bankers, development economists, foreign aid workers, and others. It's about offshore banking, bad loan schemes, "debt relief," tax evasion, incompetent World Bank projects. It's about the people who profit from these things, and the developing countries who get hosed by them. I thought about writing a post entitled "Who was raped in order to make your cellphone?" One chapter explains the war in the Congo and the quest for an element called "coltan" used in cell phones, computers, PlayStations, etc. You can read the link instead for a full story. Some of the ingredients in your cellphone probably comes from the Congo.... The chapter about coltan starts with the story of a Congolese woman who gives birth to a still-born son (the pregnancy was the result of a rape) and minutes later is raped and tortured by men from the plundering Rwandan army. Really messed-up stories from Christian aid workers in the Congo. Why was she raped? American and European multinationals who are in desperate need of the high-priced ore helped fund the Rwandan and Ugandan armies in their invasion of the Congo, where the ore is located, in order to help facilitate its mining. The armies systematically rape women of all ages and conditions in the villages they come across, like a hate crime. The ore is then exported via Rwanda to the West and the proceeds go mostly to the government who sponsor the atrocities. The multinational firms basically just look the other way at how it's acquired. Many Western companies acquired the mines when the Congolese government sold them off. Many former elected government officials serve on the boards of these firms, like Alcatel. Firms like Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Nokia, etc. claim not to use coltan from the Congo, but it's impossible for them not to. Think Blood Diamond except with coltan. The violence has really warped these Congolese societies, as you might imagine. Truth is always much more unbelievable than fiction ever could be. *UPDATE* Nicholas Kristof has an op-ed from the Congo today. None of the other chapters are this graphic and emotional, however. Most are much more academic and it would help you to have an extensive economics background to read and critique them. Confessions blew my mind 2 years ago, shook me to the core of my being like few books ever have. If you want an intriguing and sometimes suspenseful read, it's your book. If you're looking for more information and a more academic read then Empire is your book. The 2 books together have taught me to always be aware of who I'm working for and be careful how I pursue a career in development. It's also made me think again about putting faith in models and being dogmatic about market efficiencies when there are so many caveats out there.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mac

    Better than the memoir that "inspired" it, this is a set of essays about globalization, off-shore finance, and corporate greed destroying most of the developing world and a sizable chunk of the developed one. None of them are particularly great, and I don't know that I learned anything extraordinary, though I did get a handful of sources to back up things I pretty much already knew, in spirit if not in particular. Similar to Naomi Klein's "No Logo" from a few years back, the book ends its catalog Better than the memoir that "inspired" it, this is a set of essays about globalization, off-shore finance, and corporate greed destroying most of the developing world and a sizable chunk of the developed one. None of them are particularly great, and I don't know that I learned anything extraordinary, though I did get a handful of sources to back up things I pretty much already knew, in spirit if not in particular. Similar to Naomi Klein's "No Logo" from a few years back, the book ends its cataloging of globalization's damages with a section on hope, and movements against the tide. But, just as Klein seemed to place her faith in graffiti artists and "Adbusters" magazine, the organizations and movements described here seem piecemeal and inconsistent. There was really no consensus or solidarity among people, and the problem has grown so large that it's never quite clear where to start. Some of the stories are quite inspiring, and deserve to be told, but it's hard to become too inspired when the previous 270 pages are so bleak.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Arlo

    An amazing collected work that brings together such different experiences and viewpoints yet also ties them all together into a single shocking, even piercing, description of economic abuses. It was difficult to focus on certain chapters, because they are admittedly over my head, but the beautiful thing about the book is it was edited to be read in whatever order or even picked through by the reader to find what is of interest at the time. It further has an extensive collection of notes and appe An amazing collected work that brings together such different experiences and viewpoints yet also ties them all together into a single shocking, even piercing, description of economic abuses. It was difficult to focus on certain chapters, because they are admittedly over my head, but the beautiful thing about the book is it was edited to be read in whatever order or even picked through by the reader to find what is of interest at the time. It further has an extensive collection of notes and appendices which will lead to other reading and resources to further the study and understanding of the reader! All in all a very handy book for those interested in having a better grasp of global finance and the impact of our current system.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nadezhda

    Очень "неровные" главы от познавательных до сокращённо популистских. Очень "неровные" главы от познавательных до сокращённо популистских.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marcus Laws

    I was really enjoying this book until it was stolen out of my car.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Capitalist extraction and control of global resources is actually a foreign policy philosophy, known as "corporatocracy". This book sprang out of John Perkins' _Confessions of an Economic Hitman". Capitalist extraction and control of global resources is actually a foreign policy philosophy, known as "corporatocracy". This book sprang out of John Perkins' _Confessions of an Economic Hitman".

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kalle Wescott

    The John Perkins books are better, but after reading all his books this is a nice addition to knowledge and perspective.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    One of the most important books anyone can read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    KT

    Informative and mostly engaging collection of essays on the neocolonialist failings of the BWIs and global corruption and kleptocracy more generally. Although the essays varied in quality, there were standout chapters on debt, offshore banking/tax havens and critiques of BWIs

  11. 5 out of 5

    Randy

    Wow,quite an eye-opener. I had some knowledge about a few of the tops covered in this book, but I'm still shocked by a lot of others. Wow,quite an eye-opener. I had some knowledge about a few of the tops covered in this book, but I'm still shocked by a lot of others.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Begüm

    besides the other first and second book, this book does not contain perkin's writings , just he wrote introduction. The book contains articles about being an economic killers which been written by other economic killers besides the other first and second book, this book does not contain perkin's writings , just he wrote introduction. The book contains articles about being an economic killers which been written by other economic killers

  13. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    My dad lent me this book to read the section about the Philippines, but I ended up reading the whole thing. The book is a sequel to John Perkins' "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" (which I also read). It's a series of essays from several ex-"economic hitmen" and people involved with global politics and finance. Little does anyone know how deeply entrenched multinational corporations are in the manipulation of politics in countries of the Global South. "Saving" the Third World cannot be done si My dad lent me this book to read the section about the Philippines, but I ended up reading the whole thing. The book is a sequel to John Perkins' "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" (which I also read). It's a series of essays from several ex-"economic hitmen" and people involved with global politics and finance. Little does anyone know how deeply entrenched multinational corporations are in the manipulation of politics in countries of the Global South. "Saving" the Third World cannot be done simply by foreign aid or loans/debt forgiveness. The neoliberal economic policies espoused by American conservative politicians are forcibly applied to developing countries while the industrialized countries enjoy protectionist economic policies creating an uneven playing field in which the revered free market is supposed to play out. Tax shelters, corrupt dictators, export-rich/import-dependence and the one-track-minded race to acquire oil are only some of the factors that play into the complex system that is purposely built to keep impoverished countries that way. The book itself is somewhat uneven, as is often the case for collections of writings. Because there are so many essays about different aspects of the same thing, a lot of time is spent reiterating concepts that are explained in other sections, which is good if you are reading the book piecemeal, but a little tedious if you read it straight through. Some of the essays are written by people who are clearly not writers and can come off a little like first year college papers. That said, the large number of perspectives allows a broad coverage of several countries and the different players involved in the global corruption, from lawyers to bankers to CEOs to global agencies to contractors to foreign dictators to average citizens who are just cogs in the corporate machines.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    pp to copy: TOC, 1, 2, 4 from the library TOC: Introduction: Confessions and Revelations from the world of economic Hit men Ch 1 Global Empire: The web of control by John Perkins Confessions of an Economic Hit Man ch 2 Selling Money--and Dependency:Setting the Debt trap ch 3 Dirty MoneyInside the sectrt world of offshore banking ch 4 BCCI's Double Game: banking on America ch 5 the human cost of cheap cell phones ch 6 Mercenaries on the Fron LInes in the New Scramble for Africa ch 7 Hijacking Iraq's Oil Res pp to copy: TOC, 1, 2, 4 from the library TOC: Introduction: Confessions and Revelations from the world of economic Hit men Ch 1 Global Empire: The web of control by John Perkins Confessions of an Economic Hit Man ch 2 Selling Money--and Dependency:Setting the Debt trap ch 3 Dirty MoneyInside the sectrt world of offshore banking ch 4 BCCI's Double Game: banking on America ch 5 the human cost of cheap cell phones ch 6 Mercenaries on the Fron LInes in the New Scramble for Africa ch 7 Hijacking Iraq's Oil Reserves: Economic Hit men at work ch 8 The World Bank and the $100 Billion Question ch 9 The Phillipines, the World Bank, and the race to the bottom ch 10 Exporting Destruction ch 11 The Mirage of Debt Relief ch 12 Global uprising: The web of Resistance About the Authors Acknowledgments Appendix\ Index Hegemony or Survival America's Quest for Global Dominance

  15. 5 out of 5

    Hendri sabeth

    ecomomic hit men merpakan salh satu buku yang cukup mencengangkan saya ketika membacanya,ternyata buku ini menguak tentang konspirasi amerika terhadap negara-negara berkembang salah satunya indonesia.....,dimana denagn kekuasaan ekonomi,politik,mapia dlll telah memberangus negar-negara berkembang untuk di jadikan sapi perah bagi amerika...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joy Gucci

    Not for those who can't take a hard hit from reality. Not for those who can't take a hard hit from reality.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    As much as I like critiques of trans-national capitalism. This book is poorly organized, does not have a core message, sometimes self contradictory, occasionally unduly militant.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    A good but slightly repetitive collection of essays explaining how screwed the world is, who's screwing it and how A good but slightly repetitive collection of essays explaining how screwed the world is, who's screwing it and how

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cihat Acar

  20. 4 out of 5

    Branden Barber

  21. 4 out of 5

    Aron Flynn

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sheikh Tajamul

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alison

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alex Frame

  25. 5 out of 5

    Zac

  26. 5 out of 5

    Prudhvi Bethanaboina

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dennis McCrea

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emily C

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

  30. 5 out of 5

    Yagidojo

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