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Publisher's Summary

The first comprehensive account of the growing dominance of the intangible economy
Early in the 21st century, a quiet revolution occurred. For the first time, the major developed economies began to invest more in intangible assets, like design, branding, R&D, or software, than in tangible assets, like machinery, buildings, and computers. For all sorts of businesses, from tech firms and pharma companies to coffee shops and gyms, the ability to deploy assets that one can neither see nor touch is increasingly the main source of long-term success.
But this is not just a familiar story of the so-called new economy. Capitalism without Capital shows that the growing importance of intangible assets has also played a role in some of the big economic changes of the last decade. The rise of intangible investment is, Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake argue, an underappreciated cause of phenomena from economic inequality to stagnating productivity. Haskel and Westlake bring together a decade of research on how to measure intangible investment and its impact on national accounts, showing the amount different countries invest in intangibles, how this has changed over time, and the latest thinking on how to assess this. They explore the unusual economic characteristics of intangible investment and discuss how these features make an intangible-rich economy fundamentally different from one based on tangibles.
Capitalism without Capital concludes by presenting three possible scenarios for what the future of an intangible world might be like and by outlining how managers, investors, and policymakers can exploit the characteristics of an intangible age to grow their businesses, portfolios, and economies.
Author bio: Jonathan Haskel is professor of economics at Imperial College London. Stian Westlake is a senior fellow at Nesta, the UK's national foundation for innovation.
©2018 Princeton University Press (P)2018 Recorded Books
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Pramath Malik on 12-30-17

Must read for anyone who works in IP/technology

great book for those who work in intangible area I.e. patents, trademarks, art, music, etc.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful


By Philo on 02-03-18

Who benefits? And how? Nice survey

Accounting does not capture plenty of this. The legal intellectual property framework is maybe a half-step behind the curve. There is a flow of value through the world of business that is sometimes lax and leaky, that has spillovers (author's term) that can be further exploited, but often, grabbed onto by others. Intangibles can be cheaply created, scaled up and deployed, yet they have their deficiencies too. The creator is often not the ultimate profiteer. As a result of the lag of our measuring tools, we may have a blurred view of what our economy is achieving. This author has struck a rich vein. Here is a fine exploration in crisp, current business language.

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