- Even as the Fed relaxes, real rates rise
The “money illusion" ranks among the most lyrical-sounding concepts in economics. It refers to the mistake that people make when they focus on nominal rather than real values. Anyone chuffed to get a hefty pay rise over the past year without considering whether, after inflation, they can actually buy more has fallen prey to the illusion. Financial investors ought to be savvier, but they too can be seduced by a lovely nominal story. The Federal Reserve’s downshift to smaller interest-rate rises is a case in point. It may look like a step away from hawkish monetary policy; in real terms, though, the central bank’s stance is tighter than it first appears.
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