Money illusion is primarily evident in low inflation countries. In hyperinflationary countries there is absolutely no money illusion as far as the hyperinflationary national currency is concerned. Everyone knows as a fact that the local hyperinflationary currency loses value day by day and even hour by hour. In low inflationary countries people are vaguely aware that money loses value over a long period of time. Money in a low inflationary economy is often used as if its real value is completely stable over the short term. That is money illusion.
Companies report an unending stream of information about their performance and results. Sales increased by 5 per cent over last year’s figures, for example. Are these historical cost comparisons or real value comparisons? It is more never than hardly ever stated.
Money illusion is very, very common in our low inflationary economies. Another example: The BBC ran a program about the fantastic E-Type Jaguar. The presenter stated that one of the many reasons why the E-type Jag - the best car ever, according to the presenter - was such a success, was its original nominal price of 2 500 Pounds at the time of its first introduction into the market. Towards the end of the program it is then stated that a number of years later these same original E-Type Jags sold at a nominal price at that time of 25 000 Pounds. It is thus implied to be 10 times more than the original price of 2 500 Pounds. In nominal terms, yes. We all agree. Certainly not in real terms and we are interested in real values. Nominal profits - however fantastic they may look - are misleading the longer the time period and the higher the rate of inflation or hyperinflation in the transaction currency during the time period involved.
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