Intangible Assets: Measuring and Enhancing Their Contribution to Corporate Value and Economic Growth

Intangible Assets: Measuring and Enhancing Their Contribution to Corporate Value and Economic Growth
June 23, 2008
A National Academies’ Conference
in conjunction with Athena Alliance

Investment in intangibles, according to a 2006 Federal Reserve Board staff analysis, exceeds all investment in tangible property and, if properly accounted for, would raise US productivity growth by 20 percent for the period 1973-1995. These assets — computer software, R&D, intellectual property, workforce training, brand equity and organizational capabilities — now account for three quarters of economic activity. Increasingly, they are a principal driver of the competitiveness of US-based firms, economic growth, and opportunities for American workers. Some intangibles, like intellectual property, are being securitized, auctioned, and traded; a few years ago no one contemplated the existence, let alone the extent, of such “technology markets.” Yet despite these developments many intangible assets are not reported and are treated in the national economic accounts as expenses rather than investments. And there is no coordinated national strategy for promoting intangible investments apart, perhaps, from R&D.

This one day conference, hosted by the National Academies’ Board on Science, Technology and Economic Policy (STEP), in cooperation with the Committee on National Statistic and sponsored by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis in response to a congressional directive, includes discussions of what are intangibles and how they work, how intangible investments compare and contribute to growth, how intangibles are created and used by firms, and what the government’s role should be in supporting markets and promoting investment in intangibles.

For an agenda, click here. Presentations are available online at the STEP website. The presentation by Dr. Jarboe of Athena Alliance: US Policies for Fostering Intangibles, outlines the size of the federal government’s investments in intangible assets and outlines a number of policy steps that can be taken to foster the creation and utilization of intangible assets in the US economy.

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