CNBC interviewed John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, about Wal-Mart bribery scandal in Mexico.
Here is the transcript from the interview:
if you have just joined us wal-mart is in trouble this morning. the company’s alleged
corruption was profiled in the new york times this weekend, the paper reporting the largest
retailer cut off an investigation. john joins us here at the new york stock exchange. you were
an economic hit man for american business. what does that mean? what did you do? we
identified countries that had resources and had a huge loan but the money never goes to
the country. it goesown corporations to build infrastructure projects like power plants that
benefit a few families but don’t help the majority of the people who can’t afford to buy
electricity. the people are stuck with a huge loan that can’t be repaid. sometimes we say sell
oil real cheap without environmental restrictions or social regulations and then in a few
cases where we failed. i talk about how i failed with the president of ecwidor, they go in and
they aassassinate their leaders. to be clear your allegations are going right to the top of
government and american foreign policy? in my case that was the job. the corporations like
wal-mart are at different levels. my job was to corrupt high officials in countries and get
them to accept huge loans to sign off on them to make a lot of money. who paid you? i
worked for a private consulting firm. my title was economist. we were paid by world bank
grants. did you have direct experience in mexico or with wal-mart? i had a lot of experience
in latin america but never mexico directly. what in the story what does it mean to you given
the context of your work? it sounds to me that something probably did happen. i think it’s a
terrible shame that it does. one problem it creates is it takes competition aw from mexican
firms and small companies that can’t afford these. so wal-mart becomes this huge employer.
that’s also part of the benefit. a lot of jobs for mexicans and a lot of low prices for mexican
consumer whose need to buy paper towels and dog food. to a certain degree that is true
but it also puts a lot of mexicans out of work. one of the reasons we have the immigration
problem here is the mexican economy is a wreck to a large degree because of some of the
regulations that have put farmers out of work. when mexicans can’t find work they come to
the united states and we complain about an immigration problem. the allegations seem
minuscule in comparison of some of the things you described happening at a high level.
would you agree? many of the payments may have been to move things along in a more
rapid fashion. 25 million compared to the things i was talking about. if the implications are
very large because you suddenly moved out of the realm where the u.s. government, those
big organizations are playing a role to help the country develop. the theory is if you invest
the money in infrastructure you are helping the country develop. in the case of wal-mart it’s
really been for the sake of one company. yesterday maybe increasing employment but the
motive is to make lots of profit. as we get trance parancies people will be thinking this is
awful. is your impression that the way in which business is done is getting worse or better?
one is the fact that u.s. prosecutors seem to be stepping up enforcement of the 1977 act
and you now have whistle blowers where you can get as a whistle blower 15 to 0% offunds.
maybe this is what is motivating this article today. my impression is — i have been traveling
around a lot. i just spoke at a conference. in my sense people coming out of mba programs
are very concerned about corruption. they want to see us move into a better world. they are
worried about having kids and bringing them up in a world where they see the economy
collapsing because of the way business has recently been done. they want to see that
change. i think the big corporations are beginning to get it, too. i hope it is working. i do feel
that there has been a tremendous change in attitude in the past six or seven years. thanks
for joining us. thank you.