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Capitalism Without Capital

The Rise of the Intangible Economy
Narrated by: Derek Perkins
Length: 8 hrs and 56 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Economics
4 out of 5 stars (21 ratings)

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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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Insightful and engaging

This is a great book for anyone interested in intellectual property and intangible assets and how they influence the modern economy

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An amazing morning listen

wonderful work , great perspective building , especially for early web start up founders .

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Profile Image for CHET YARBROUGH
  • CHET YARBROUGH
  • 17-12-2018

INVESTMENT VALUE

In addressing 21st century technology, Haskel and Westlake argue that the tradition of hard asset value is diminished. In today’s technological economy, the authors suggest investment in intangibles is as important as investment in buildings and machinery.

Haskel and Westlake acknowledge intangibles have always been an important part of economic growth. They note worker training programs, specialized employee’ experience, and patented designs have always had value; but auditors rarely (if at all) quantified those intangibles as anything other than expense. Little of a company’s investment in training, employee experience, and patents is assigned as an asset by analysts who use pre-twenty-first century accounting rules.

Most intangibles have historically been classified as uncapitalized expenses. In part, because quantification of intangibles is difficult to measure. Before the tech-revolution, investments in training, patents, and experience were looked at as costs of doing business. They were most often expensed (with some exception for patents).

Historically, intangible value has always been with us but recognized as an expense. Haskel and Westlake suggest intangibles need to be partially and judiciously accounted for as assets. When recognized as assets, intangible values open the door to wider private and public finance.



4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • GSS
  • 08-03-2018

Fascinating topic

Would you consider the audio edition of Capitalism Without Capital to be better than the print version?

No. Print might work better because of the complexities of the subject

Who was your favorite character and why?

There were no characters. This is a book about economics. You need to refine your algorithms in your software.

Which character – as performed by Derek Perkins – was your favorite?

?? The dollar? Money? What on earth do you mean?

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Only an idiot would make a film of this book. Who thought up this question?

Any additional comments?

You need to work on your software. Your questions are stupid.

47 of 58 people found this review helpful

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  • Reynir Orn Bachmann Gudmundsson
  • 28-08-2018

Excellent insight into this part of the economy

Excellent insight into a valuable part of the economy which is often hidden from sight.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • PM
  • 30-12-2017

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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • A. Wenzel
  • 04-10-2018

A primer on the economy as it exists today.

Intangible investments affect the economy differently. How companies access capital, invest capital, measure value, and manage resources are critical. Brand and intangibles are where most of the value lives.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ramin Amirnovin
  • 26-09-2018

interesting but slightly dry

very interesting subject on a great analysis of it. repetitious and dry at times. nevertheless worth the read

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kyle
  • 18-07-2019

Important Reading

For as clear and quick as the author is here, I am grateful. It’s very well done.

Now, I ask you to read with ears of a mother sending her son to school in a new city, or to live with his unstable father on the other side of the world.

I wish there was more contents. But this book reaches a nice compromise, delivering brevity.

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  • Karolyn Licari
  • 12-07-2019

Generally, meh.

I expected much more from this book, namely a more exciting exploration of topics. I found it to be a review of the familiar... although, it is not devoid of value.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-05-2019

Interesting content, very insightful commentary

Great information on a change in economic practices of moving from a tangible to intangible world

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  • See Reverse
  • 24-03-2019

How do we Quantify Intangibles in an Economy?

When it comes to hard numbers of performance, few of us outside of professional sports or sales are comfortable with letting hard metrics capture the nuance and quality of our work. Haskel and Westlake outline the challenges of documenting and gauging performance of a world economy that is trending more and more toward intangibles. Where industrial economies were quantifiable in terms of widgets per unit time, the output of modern economies are defined in terms of patent portfolios, licensing, contracts, options, brands, copyrights and a wide variety of intellectual property. This book strives to understand what we should consider in an increasingly intangible world.

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  • grimnortherner
  • 23-04-2018

Repetitive and disappointing

The title and reviews led me to believe this was a revolutionary new concept of capitalism without capital. Some kind of gift economy or as yet unimagined world changing piece of genius. But it’s just about intangible vs tangible assets.

Constant repetition of a single point. Tangible assets are tangible. Intangible assets are not. Tangible assets can be locked away. Intangible assets cannot. Etc. Scalability, IP, spillovers, yada yada.

The waffle about how we define and measure GDP and other intellectual concepts is a bean counter’s wet dream. Not my cup of tea.

There are sporadic analyses of companies and countries that make for interesting listening as they shed a tiny light on the concept.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-05-2019

Repetitive and not concrete argument

Author spends the first few chapters re-iterating the accounting principle of intangibles, from various angles.
Later chapters give arguments for why intangibles, or the rise of value in intangibles in our economy have influenced house prices in urban areas through to social wealth inequality. Although the arguments are plausable, they are only one factor to consider and likely not the main factor.
For example, arguing that the increase in inequality has been notably influenced by the increase in urban property prices because people have had to move to cities in order to realise new value between intangibles and tangible elements of an economy doesnt sound conclusive, especially when you try to think of some examples and why only a dense population of cosmopolitans in an area could achieve this.
However, it does serve well to highlight the shift of the economies of western nations to bridge intangible elements and the impact in people's jobs and economic drivers.

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  • Iain Palmer
  • 08-01-2019

Very good, listened twice

Really interesting and very well delivered. Lots of the insights a very relevant to many modern companies and economies. So good I've listened to it again.

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  • rockalt
  • 18-10-2018

Interesting but difficult to digest

The subject material is fascinating but I struggled to make it through it and retain all of the details. I'm a big fan of audio books but perhaps academic ones such as this are better read on paper. Nice job by the narrator overall.

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  • Nikolay
  • 26-04-2018

ok, but too dry sometimes

too many remarks like X shown in a paper... I would rather get a direct statement on what was shown. The book contains brilliant ideas, overviews and examples, but is sometimes overly-hedgy academic and dryily indirect.

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  • Yeh C.
  • 06-03-2018

Excellent!

The author excellent describes how intangible assets have become more important in the economies of developed nations, and how individuals, businesses and public institutions might respond to the challenges.

The layout is clearly structured and the authors are very knowledgeable in economics and related fields, and the audiobook is narrated by the always excellent Derek Perkins. Highly recommended