Notes and Reflections on Books and Media
by Hannah Leitheiser
Capitalism without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy
Jonathan Haskel, Stian Westlake
- Jonathan Haskel, Stian Westlake, Capitalism without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy (2017)
This book came as a recommendation from Bill Gates, so perhaps it's good to start with his company. When you add up the sell-able assets of Microsoft, it comes to something like 3% of the company's value. The reason is simple enough: Microsoft is not so much its buildings and hardware, but software holdings, the research, discipline, and experience to create new software, branding, contracts with companies that use Microsoft products, and so forth. Capital -- which are objects you can sell on a market -- is becoming a smaller portion of the economy. Although the growing volume of intangibles share some properties of capital -- if a process can be packaged into a patent, for example, you can sell that patent -- they diverge sufficiently that old economic analysis and tools may be insufficient for the future.