Cantillon Effects

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • Author
  • #16967

    What are Cantillon Effects? I’ve heard this term mentioned in the audio archives a few times, but I have not been able to find an explanation.


    Cantillon effects are disproportionate and non-synchronous changes in particular prices that are produced by a change in the money relation. When the money stock increases, the prices of some goods rise to a greater degree and the prices of other goods rise to a lesser degree and the prices of some goods rise sooner and the prices of other goods rise later. Because of Cantillon effects, increases in the money stock change the pattern of production in the economy.

    These effects are named after Richard Cantillon who described them in his treatise, An Essay on the Nature of Commerce in General.


    “All right, some may say, prices may indeed rise, but so do wages and salaries, and therefore inflation causes no real problems on net. This misconception overlooks one of the most insidious and immoral effects of inflation: its redistribution of wealth from the poor and middle class to the politically well connected.

    The price increases that take place as a result of inflation do not occur all at once and to the same degree. Those who receive the new money first receive it before prices have yet risen. They enjoy a windfall. Meanwhile, as they spend the new money, and the next wave of recipients spend it, and so on, prices begin to rise throughout the economy—well before the new money has trickled down to most people. The average person is now paying higher prices while still earning his old income, which has not yet been adjusted to account for the higher money supply. By the time the new money has made its way throughout the economy, average people have all this time been paying higher prices, and only now can begin to break even.

    The enrichment of the politically well connected—in other words, those who get the newly created money first: government contractors, big banks, and the like—comes at the direct expense of everyone else. These are known as the distribution effects, or Cantillon effects, of inflation, after economist Richard Cantillon. The average person is silently robbed through this invisible means and usually doesn’t understand what exactly is happening to him. And almost no one in the political establishment has an incentive to tell him.”

    Ron Paul, The Revolution: A Manifesto (p. 143).


    Thank you! I’m quite familiar with the phenomena you’re describing, but I had no idea that it had a name or that it had originated with Cantillon. I may now have to add Cantillon’s treatise to my to-read list.

    Thanks again,


Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.