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Vanity Capital

May 11, 2015

Last month, Bank of America Merrill Lynch released the compellingly titled report, “Vanity Capital: The global bull market in narcissism,” which put a price tag on the amount we spend globally on products and services that enhance our appearance or prestige. That price tag is huge: $4.5 trillion, according to the report—larger than the fourth largest economy in the world, Germany, with its GDP of $3.7 trillion—and still growing.

The immediate question the report raises is whether it’s even possible to measure such a thing. The premise—to quantify the dollar value of all purchases worldwide motivated in some way by vanity—is a little nutty at its foundation. The authors define “vanity capital” in terms that sound like Gordon Gekko and Abraham Maslow got together to deliver a self-help seminar: It’s “the pursuit of, and the accumulation of, attributes and accessories to augment self-confidence by enhancing one’s appearance and prestige. It is self-actualization through self-improvement and self-focus.”
 http://qz.com/393171/vanity-capital-is-the-new-metric-for-narcissism-and-analysts-say-its-value-worldwide-is-greater-than-germanys-gdp/
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