Phantom wealth is anything that has exchange value, but no intrinsic value. Money that exists only as a number on a computer hard drive is the prime example. It manifests
in financial assets that appear or disappear as if by magic as a result of accounting entries, debt pyramids, and the inflation of asset bubbles unrelated to the creation of any thing of real value or utility. The high-tech-stock and housing bubbles created phantom wealth in massive amounts.
Wall Street is highly proficient at creating phantom wealth. Indeed, it takes pride in its ability to inflate financial assets without bearing the burden of producing anything of real value.
Real wealth has intrinsic value, as contrasted to mere exchange value. Life, not money, is the measure of real-wealth value. Examples include land, labor, knowledge, and physical
infrastructure. The most valuable forms of real wealth are beyond price and are unavailable for market purchase. These include healthy, happy children, loving families, caring communities, and a beautiful, healthy, natural environment.
-excerpt from "How to Liberate America from Wall Street Rule", a new report from Yes magazine.