vanity capital

(名詞) 買來提升個人自尊心或地位的商品或服務。

What used to be known as conspicuous consumption has now morphed into what has been dubbed ‘gratuitous signalling’. Vanity capital, according to the man who coined the term, is the monetisation of narcissism, and thanks to social media, its spoils can be instantly uploaded to invoke instant envy.
—Suzanne Harrington, “Capitalising on vanity — an industry worth €3.4 trillion,” Irish Examiner, August 7, 2015

Of course, when the student paper pointed out such a large vanity capital expenditure in a year when the University was begging to increase tuition, a budgetary emergency emerged which forced the University to cut all funding to the paper.
—numerobis, “Are university administrators in a war against education?” (comment), Pharyngula, March 2, 2016