|US 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 productivity growth significantly. These assets -- computer software, R&D, intellectual property, workforce training, and spending to raise the efficiency and brand identification of firms -- are a subset of services, which 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 hardly anyone 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. |
Monday, June 23, 2008
National Academy of Sciences Lecture Room
2100 C Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20418
The National Academies' Board on Science, Technology and Economic Policy (STEP), in cooperation with the Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT), held a one-day conference sponsored by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis with support
from the National Science Foundation.
The agenda included discussions of the following:
• What intangibles are and how they work;
• How intangible investments compare and contribute to growth in the US, UK, and Japan;
• How intangibles are created and used by firms;
• What new markets in intangibles are emerging and what could impede their growth;
• What government statistical agencies are doing to gather data on intangibles; and
• What the government's role should be in supporting markets and promoting investment in intangibles.