Capitalism Without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy
Early in the twenty-first century, a quiet revolution occurred. For the first time, the major developed economies began to invest more in intangible assets, like design, branding, and software, than in tangible assets, like machinery, buildings, and computers. For all sorts of businesses, 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 larger economic changes of the past decade, including the growth in economic inequality and the stagnation of productivity. Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake explore the unusual economic characteristics of intangible investment and discuss how an economy rich in intangibles is fundamentally different from one based on tangibles. Capitalism without Capital concludes by outlining how managers, investors, and policymakers can exploit the characteristics of an intangible age to grow their businesses, portfolios, and economies.
From the Back Cover The nineteenth- and twentieth-century world where capitalists owned factories and workers supplied labor has ended. In this book, Haskel and Westlake explain with fascinating examples how business assets today are mostly intangible and how this changes everything we know about business--corporate strategy, accounting, leadership, and industrial strategy. Whether you are a customer, investor, manager, employee, or politician, you will gain new insights from this tour de force. --John Kay, author of Other People's Money A must-read for anyone concerned about how to revive the growth of living standards. --Robert Peston, author of How Do We Fix This Mess?: The Economic Price of Having It All and the Route to Lasting Prosperity On almost every page of this book I found myself going 'Oh, now I understand' or 'Yes, I never looked at it that way.' Capitalism without Capital is highly original and illuminating. It has changed the way I look at things. --Daniel Finkelstein, The Times columnist This book shines a wonderful spotlight on the hidden capital that influences our world--measuring and understanding it is a top priority. --William R. Kerr, Harvard Business School This fascinating book examines an important but overlooked subject--the intangible nature of capital and activity in the modern economy. The transformation of the intangible economy has rarely been pointed out, and its implications are not much understood or discussed. There are no other books similar to this one. --Diane Coyle, author of GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History With an impressive breadth of topics, this thorough book takes a compelling look at the importance of intangible capital. Arguing that it offers an invaluable lens to view modern, dynamic innovative economies, the framework that Haskel and Westlake set forth is useful, insightful, and indispensable. --Carol Corrado, The Conference Board