Put simply money illusion is the propensity to respond to changes in money magnitudes as if you were were responding to changes in real magnitudes.
For example, if we increased your income by 100% from now, but also increased the cost of all the goods and services you used or purchased by 100%, and you were already buying the optimum goods or services for your needs, then you could go on acquiring these at previous rates of consumption. (Any goods or services that you previously couldn’t buy, you still could not afford).
However, the money illusion, in essence, is when your income rises and you ‘feel’ richer, consequently you purchase more luxury or non-standard goods or services because of that feeling and purchase less of the staples you previously bought.
Individuals fail to grasp that their real income has not risen. (Your real income is measured by dividing your money income by an appropriate and consistent index of prices…see below…).
You can see therefore in mainstream economic practice that the banks ability to quite literally print money, to increase it’s own money magnitude at will – remote from real lives and economic behaviour, or for an individual to regularly value and revalue their property portfolio on a rising market, can lead to financial disaster for the individual.
The economist Irving Fisher deliberated long and hard about the high value of stocks immediately before the 1929 Wall Street crash, ands produced many of the indices of value that we still use to measure, or second guess, market ‘fluctuations’ today. This thinking has not prevented economic juddering in recent decades either.
We would wish to argue that a rational social economy, based on business outputs that are focused on social outcome, not individual wealth or shareholder value as a predominant driver, are one way to counterbalance the money illusion.
Taking out the thirst for dis-proportionate personal wealth and dedicate outputs to a wider social good – replacing the feeling of ‘riches’ for the feeling of ‘community’ – is a perfect way to achieve a new economic equilibrium.
Boost the social business market, starve the illusion!
Explanations is an occasional Mining the SEEM piece to explain economic and financial thinking in a clear and understandable way. If you have a term to be explained, or even to tell us when we haven’t been clear, then contact the Editor at Mining the SEEM and let us know.