John Perkins’ New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

My father retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 1970, shortly before John Perkins began his career as an economic consultant— “economic hit man”— with the engineering firm, MAIN. Perkins traveled to Indonesia, Panama, Colombia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. His job was to convince leaders to undertake wildly overambitious infrastructure projects that would enrich them and big U.S. engineering firms like Bechtel. In most cases, the projects would fail and leave nations beholden to US banks or the World Bank. Saudi Arabia was a special case; the flood of dollars from the new OPEC cartel would purchase both sophisticated infrastructure like desalinization plants and U.S. military protection against insurgents. Leaders who refused to cooperate with such plans would be picked off by CIA-supported “jackals”. Perkins originally published his story in his 2005 bestseller; he now updates the story with examples from developed countries, such as projects that sucker local governments into building public-private toll roads. Looking back, I realize that my dad knew a lot more about such activities than he let on… . . . → Read More: John Perkins’ New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

The Economics Anti-Textbook: A Critical Thinker’s Guide to Microeconomics, by Rod Hill and Tony Myatt

It was the perfect “natural experiment:” in April 1992, New Jersey’s minimum-wage was scheduled to rise from $4.25 an hour to $5.05, while neighboring Pennsylvania’s minimum wage remained unchanged. Princeton economists David Card and Alan Krueger surveyed over 400 fast food outlets in both states, before and after the increase, in order to test the conventional economic wisdom that minimum wages cause unemployment. What did they find? No apparent effect on employment. None. Zip. Economic hell broke loose… . . . → Read More: The Economics Anti-Textbook: A Critical Thinker’s Guide to Microeconomics, by Rod Hill and Tony Myatt

It Takes Government to Create Markets: Alex Marshall’s The Surprising Design of Market Economies

Conventional economics wittingly or unwittingly provides cover for the One Percent, by professing that “the market” operates benevolently on its own. Alex Marshall gives us an entertaining, thoughtful, and well-written antidote to this dangerous abstraction. . . . → Read More: It Takes Government to Create Markets: Alex Marshall’s The Surprising Design of Market Economies

It Takes Government to Create Markets: Alex Marshall’s The Surprising Design of Market Economies

Conventional economics wittingly or unwittingly provides cover for the One Percent, by professing that “the market” operates benevolently on its own. Alex Marshall gives us an entertaining, thoughtful, and well-written antidote to this dangerous abstraction. . . . → Read More: It Takes Government to Create Markets: Alex Marshall’s The Surprising Design of Market Economies

The Wedge

“As Workers’ Pensions Wither, Those for Executives Flourish; Companies Run Up Big IOUs, Mostly Obscured, to Grant Bosses a Lucrative Benefit; The Billion-Dollar Liability.” The June 23 Wall Street Journal headline tells the story: GM and other big corporations cut pensions for the rank-and-file–complaining all the while of “legacy costs”–while they pad executive packages.

Meanwhile, . . . → Read More: The Wedge