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Subject:  Re: Here's your chance: Balance the Fed budget Date:  1/8/2007  8:43 AM
Author:  jcradd Number:  200551 of 603176

"There is a big difference between perceived value and real value.

Really? Pray tell... what could that 'big difference' possibly be?"

Off the top of my head, here are a few examples of real value:

- A battery that lasts longer, and/or is less expensive, rather than one that comes in a flashier package or has a bigger advertising budget.

- A TV that actually has better features and/or is built more solidly, rather than one that has its characteristics embellished by the zealous salesman at the store.

- An employee who actually does more productive work for their company, rather than one who does a better job of putting on the appearance for their boss.

- A politician who has a real agenda that matches the rhetoric he uses to get elected, rather than one who markets himself as the champion of some certain group or cause in order to get elected, then uses complexity of issues and the short attention span of the public to work toward something completely different without his supporters ever catching on.

The good thing about a free market is that it allows competition where better goods and services can win out in the marketplace over inferior goods and services. A weakness in that is when the people marketing those goods and services decide (correctly or not) that they can get a better return on effort by manipulating perception rather than by improving the real value they have to offer.
The original example you used (placing identical objects on different shelves) is a relatively innocuous one. Unfortunately we all know that practices used to influence market decisions go well beyond that, commonly into the real of the outright dishonest.

"Calling it a 'weakness' is simply wistful and silly. You can say that water being wet is a 'weakness' and complain about it all day long... but in the end, all the philosophies and theories in the world doesn't change simple realities."

There is some truth to that. There is probably always going to be some degree of "salesmanship", spin, etc, and of course there is simple honest disagreement about anything but the simplest and most obvious subjects. However, the extent and pervasiveness of the "salesmanship", and the egregiousness of the dishonesty commonly involved, I think can be influenced by culture. The fact is that in our culture we easily forgive dishonesty, tend to expect it, and even lionize "salesmanship" and "influence" that includes a great deal of dishonesty as long as it is effective. We also don't do enough to encourage people to be intelligent consumers (not only in retail consumer goods, but also in employment markets, as voters in elections, etc) but seem to prefer a mass of rubes of whom the more cunning among us are supposed to take advantage.

We (as a culture) have reached a point where we have given the creation of perceived value through spin and marketing the same legitimate economic worth that we give to the creation of real value. That is something I see as a problem, and I think that cultural acceptance does a lot to contribute to the pervasiveness.

In the end, in economic terms, this means, to repeat myself

- Too many resources are put into creating the perception of value, rather than real value
- Too many poor decisions are made, at many levels, due to difficulty in distinguishing real values.

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