Capitalism Without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy

Capitalism Without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy

The first comprehensive account of the growing dominance 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, R&D, and 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.

Title:Capitalism Without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy
ISBN:9780691175034
Format Type:

    Capitalism Without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy Reviews

  • Bill Gates

    By the second semester of my freshman year at Harvard, I had started going to classes I wasn’t signed up for, and had pretty much stopped going to any of the classes I was signed up for—except for...

  • Wendy Liu

    I mostly skimmed it, to be honest, but most f what I read was pretty bad. This is such a stereotypical business book. If you want a more critical take on the rise of intangibles in the economy - one t...

  • Vance

    The title “Capitalism Without Capital” tells part of the book’s story. The first half of the book is simply principles of macroeconomics with explanations for gross domestic product and other va...

  • Marks54

    I generally do not like the genre of popular business/economic trade books, but I will make an exception for this. This is a book by two economic researchers discussing the rise in importance of “in...

  • Andrew

    Capitalism Without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy by Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake, is an interesting book about the nature of intangible investments and the growing importance of th...

  • Jason Furman

    An outstanding book that will change the way you think about the economy. Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake’s book has a sweeping premise but is grounded in the economics literature while taking gr...

  • Diego

    This book isn’t what I thought it was going to be about but it was a pleasant surprise. Provides a clear understandable breakdown of intangible assets vs tangible assets and how they impact and are ...

  • Daniel Riveong

    Capitalism without Capital gives an excellent overview of where we are with capitalism, specifically that what drives innovation today is also driving inequality and socio-political challenges. Haskel...

  • Matt

    An economist from 100 or even 50 years ago would have a hard time understanding or explaining the economic clout of Google. One reason why is because the measure of Google's assets is largely a measur...

  • Frank Stein

    A large part of this book is just a recap of every significant piece of economic research that has been published over the last 40 years, including everything from Edward Glaeser's work on inter-indus...