16 Dec 2009
John Perkins, author of "Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets Imploded - and What We Need to Do to Remake Them" provides some astonishing insights into events that contributed to Iceland’s economic crash.
Perkins, a self-confessed former economic hit man worked as a high-level consultant for multinational corporations. His job was to create the conditions for them to enter and extract wealth from countries, primarily in the developing world, that had resources the corporations were after.
Part of Perkin’s discussion with Nforum (featured in the clip above), is transcribed below.
JOHN PERKINS: In 2007, Iceland was ranked by the World Bank as the World's third wealthiest country per capita and I was interviewed for a documentary on Iceland (Dreamland) - made by Icelandic television - about that time and was told about what Alcoa's hit men were doing.
Alcoa Aluminium had sent these people to Iceland to convince them to take out a huge loan, build a gigantic hydroelectric plant just for Alcoa -- 600 megawatts.
The whole country, prior to that was only using 300 megawatts.
And it would destroy a huge fragile environment -- and all the environmental laws were waved.
And when I heard this I said, "Well Iceland will probably be the first developed country to go bankrupt." I said this on this documentary and it happened a few years later.
Because, in fact, every megawatt hour that's sold to Alcoa costs the country hundreds of thousands of dollars. So it's a terrible deal for Iceland and a great deal for Alcoa.
And so when the movie premiered in Iceland, they invited me to come and go around the country talking and it really struck me as how, you know, here Iceland had been hit in exactly the same way that I used to hit countries in the third world.
You have a resource that corporations covet. In the case of Iceland, it was electricity, cheap electricity. In the case of many countries, it was oil. You arrange a huge loan to that country and you extract a really good deal for multinational corporations.
And then in the end, the country can't pay back its loan. Like Iceland can't now. So you’ve got them. You know they're part of the empire, you’ve got em. You can ask favours. You can ask (them to) vote with you on the next UN vote -- whatever.
Editor's Note: For more from Perkins, specifically on the question, "Americans voted for change, now what?" please click here.