Tag Archives: community

The money illusion – explanations

Illusion image
Thinking about money and society

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.

Ethical business with a social dimension...
Ethical business with a social dimension…

Social Impact – a Cabinet Office market review

Becoming generally available from the Cabinet Office in July 2013, the analysis of the social impact market by Maximilian Martin, Status of the Social Impact Investing Market: A Primer, sets the scene well regarding the subtle shape of the market and how a whole new eco-system of investors and vehicles for their capital have emerged, and are still emerging, into this relatively new field.

The world view - from the UK Cabinet Office
The world view – from the UK Cabinet Office

We recently published an article featuring the latest report from New Philanthropy Capital, Best to Invest, which we stressed was a primer for the structure of the UK social investment market. You can read more here.

The Martin position paper in this article looks at the broader, global context of the social impact investing model and examines the origins of the market meta-structure across the globe, with some interesting analysis on the developing gap between public demand for new social investment and the ‘public’ finance shortfall in meeting it.

View, print or download the Martin paper here (pdf format)

This huge gap, Dr. Martin argues, is ripe for topping up by private capital, or capital from non-traditional sources, which deployed by the social outcome minded investor can transform community landscapes – in both the developing and developed world.

Based on recent studies by Accenture and Oxford Economics, the projected public services world expenditure gap is of enormous proportions through to the year 2025.

The Canadian shortfall estimated is 90 billion US Dollars (USD). the German gap some 80 billion USD and the UK expected need is for an additional 170 billion USD in investment over the same period.

This pan-global approach is interesting, in that the Martin paper shows, that when seen globally, responding to social investment demands can stimulate traditional and mainstream market provider outputs. Martin quotes the example of the French company, EDF, who in 2002 began a programme of investment in Morocco to bring electricity to the 10% of the country’s population with no access. to power. EDF’s innovative partnerships brought dividends in market development, new market creation ideas based on its approaches to the Moroccan market and proved the power of public/private partnerships for them and their shareholders.

The problem they were trying to solve was, according to Martin, the pent up demand generated in all economies by the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ (BoP). Martin argues that the efforts of the World Bank, pan global organisations and national governments have failed to eradicate the contentious issue of millions of humans living on less than 2 USD per day.

A tidal wave of human potential - untapped still
A tidal wave of human potential – untapped still

Even as early as 2007 we had a clear view of the world from the BoP. This short executive summary from the World Resources Institute gives a insight into the lives of four billion people and the latent economic potential these communities have. (Being lower down the World Bank Pyramid is not, for us, an economic failure, it is a sign of unrealised economic and human potential)

View, print or download The Next Four Billion here…(pdf format)

In economies, scale is everything, and whilst veering away from any descriptor of communities as a residuum of society, a  deeply negative, high Victorian view of the pryramidal effect of social and economic power and facility, the Martin model also has resonance for local communities in the UK, we would argue.

If innovation and bold thinking about investment, the risk supported and partially mitigated by mainstream government infrastructures, then change and transformation in societies where the median income level is significantly higher than 2 USD per day, where educational and functioning literacy levels in matters economic are that much higher – surely we can use social finance to turn the pyramid upside down?

Read the Cabinet Office primer and let us have your take on the global narrative too!


Ethical business with a social dimension...
Ethical business with a social dimension…

See more of the work of SEEM here…

Minority communities and
access to business finance

Overcoming perceptions of enterprise 'drag' in communities
Overcoming perceptions of enterprise ‘drag’ in communities

Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and the the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) have just released a new report Ethnic Minority Businesses and Access to Finance, which following talks with the British Bankers’ Association, commits mainstream banks to a series of policy initiatives to support enterprise in ethnic minority communities.

…the government has agreed with the British Bankers’ Association that the banking industry will commit to a series of measures to improve access to finance for ethnic minority business groups. This includes collecting data through independent research, for the first time, on the experiences of ethnic minority businesses seeking finance.

The Ethnic Minority Businesses and Access to Finance report was published on the 30th July 2013 by the Communities Minister, Don Foster – with the analysis in the report indicating that there is already much good work underway to enhance enterprise funding in these target communities, but that there is also still much to be done.

You can download a full copy of the report in pdf format here

The report tells us that business in ethnic minority communities carry a quintuple burden to accessing finance…

  • shortage of collateral
  • low credit scoring
  • minimal formal savings
  • an unestablished financial track record
  • the difficulty of language barriers

Whilst some of these drag factors can be attributed to any sector where social finance is deployed, for example, language and culture can be additional burdens on enterprise creation in a dynamic, culturally mixed and enterprise leaning community.

The report does recognise interestingly, whilst there is no apparent discrimination or prejudice in play within mainstream financial cultures, the report states, there is strong evidence that ethnic minority entrepreneurs perceive this to be the case and that access to mainstream financial advice and guidance is, in itself, seen as an intimidating process.

The report suggests that banks and mainstream lenders must make a continued commitment to overcome these mis-perceptions.

Finally, the report outlines the role that Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) can play in supporting the policy roll-out, and the particular relevance that Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and alternative sources of finance can play in supporting ethnic minority community enterprise.

Promoting these alternative finance schemes is a strong part of the report action plan, which coupled with our sector knowledge of local communities and awareness and sensitivity to cultural norms, can only endorse the role that Social Finance can play.

On balance the report is well considered and broad in its scope and to be welcomed. The elephant in the corner, despite the passion and commitment of the Social Finance sector, is how committed mainstream banks will be regarding pressure to lend and fund business projects. Their track record to date, even towards core SME support, is not one of sparkling achievement.


Ethical business with a social dimension...
Ethical business with a social dimension…

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Mind the Gap – financially speaking

Falling between the finance cracks - a social solution
Falling between the finance cracks – a social solution

Dr. Nick Henry and Philip Craig are the authors of this report which examines the evidence around the need for community finance initiatives – Mind the Finance Gap.

Mind-the-Finance-Gap-summary-report available here/pdf format

Funded by The Royal Bank of Scotland and in association with the CDFA the report examines finance demand from social and business sectors which fall outside the consideration of mainstream banking  services.

These groups may be businesses and entrepreneurs, they may be civil society organisations with a wide social remit, including social enterprises or charities. They can also include individuals with unsteady regular income or homeowners with a need for financial support for renovations, for example.

In 2011, the big banks made £75 billion of loans to small and medium enterprises. Between September 2011 and August 2012 banks and building societies combined provided £7 billion of overdrafts and loans and £137 billion of credit card lending to individuals . For those businesses, organisations, individuals and homeowners that cannot access mainstream finance such as that described above,  

This report estimates current potential annual demand for community finance in the UK (excluding the Green Deal) is at some £5.45 – 6.75 billion. In contrast, in 2012, community finance organisations delivered an estimated £0.7 billion of community finance to UK businesses, civil society organisations, individuals and homeowners. Community finance investments generate a wide range of economic and social benefits (especially within the most disadvantaged and excluded communities of the UK) – and which meet a wide range of Government policy objectives.

Community finance organisations, if capitalised to do so, have the potential to generate sustainable economic development and social well being at the heart of UK communities. Currently, the majority of potential economic and social benefits are being lost to UK economy and society.

You can access a full copy of the report in pdf format here.