The Rise of Extractive Logics: The Case of High Finance

Authors: Saskia Sassen*, Columbia Unversity
Topics: Geographic Thought, Economic Geography, Global Change
Keywords: High Finance, Extraction, Globalization
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: 8222, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Among the strong patterns of the post-1980s period in ‘Western’ economies is a mix of economic and political vectors marked by extractive logics. We can find such extractive logics in entities as diverse as mining and Facebook. The rise of such extractive logics is partial, but sufficiently powerful to have altered key features of our economies. When mass consumption is the shaping sector of our economies (until about the 1980s) even the nastiest corporation wanted the sons and daughters to do better than their parents so they would consume more –and supported government initiatives that transferred $ to households directly and indirectly. This began to change with the privatizations, deregulations, and rise of finance/financialization in the 1980s. One way is to emphasize the extractive character of leading economic sectors. How did Google make its first billion so fast and so unencumbered by all kinds of traditional constraints? It got information about all of us for free and then sold it to businesses. I argue that this is one instance of extractive logic. I will focus especially on finance and its sharp differences from traditional banking. The latter was/is basically commerce: it sells something (money) for a price. I want to emphasize the extent to which our major categories of analysis do not help us track the trajectories of that which is expelled. These categories were developed at a time when mass consumption was dominant and more and more people and households became part of that mass consumption logic.

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