"There is a de facto redefinition of "the economy" when sharp contractions are gradually lost to standard measures. The unemployed who lose everything...easily fall off the edge of what is defined as "the economy" and counted as such. So do small shop and factory owners who lose everything and commit suicide. And so do the growing number of well-educated students and professionals who leave...all together. These trends redefine the space of the economy. They make it smaller and expel a good share of the unemployed and poor from standard measures. Such a redefinition makes "the economy" presentable, so to speak, allowing it to show a slight growth of GDP per capita.Saskia Sassen's forthcoming book Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy (Harvard-Belknap Press, May 2014) begins its sobering journey with an Introduction titled, "The Savage Sorting." The Savage Sorting seems destined to become the short-form description of 21st Century to be remembered, if at all, in some distant future by a genetically reengineered humanity (and biosphere).
The reality at the ground level is more akin to a kind of economic version of ethnic cleansing in which elements considered troublesome are dealt with by simply eliminating them. This shrinking and redefinition of economic space so that economies can be represented as being "back on track" holds for a growing number of economies in the European Union and elsewhere [like the United States]... One indication of a people's economic despair is a sharp rise in suicide. This trend is evident in several countries worldwide from India to the United States...
The channels for expulsion vary greatly. They include austerity policies that have helped shrink the economies of Greece and Spain, environmental policies that overlook toxic emissions from enormous mining operations in Norilsk, Russia and the American state of Montana...if our concern is environmental destruction rather that interstate politics, the fact that both these mining operations are heavy polluters matters more than the fact that one is in Russia and the other in the United States...The diverse processes and conditions I include under the notion of expulsion all share one aspect: they are acute. While the abjectly poor worldwide are the most extreme instance, I do include such diverse conditions as the impoverishment of the middle classes in rich countries, the evictions of millions of small farmers in poor countries...Then there are the countless displaced people warehoused in formal and informal refugee camps, the minoritized groups in rich countries who are warehoused in prisons and the able bodied unemployed men and women warehoused in ghettoes and slums...Some are new types of expulsions, such as the 9 million households in the United States whose homes were foreclosed..."