Business Economics

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 237–239 | Cite as

U can’t touch this! The intangible revolution

Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake: Capitalism without Capital, Princeton University Press, 2017, Princeton, NJ and Oxford, United Kingdom, 288 pages, ISBN 978-0-691-17503-4
  • Daniel E. SichelEmail author
Book Review

Every year, many books are written that focus on new trends in business, management, the economy, and financial markets.1 I often find myself reacting to this stream with a bit of indifference—key points in these books are widely known, too clichéd, or too focused on the fad of the day. But, once in a while, a new book pulls together disparate strands of knowledge to highlight an important but slow moving and therefore hard to see trend. Capitalism without Capital by Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake is just such a book.

The book’s basic story has two key ingredients. First, that the intensity of intangible capital in developed economies has increased in recent decades and is likely to continue rising. Indeed, intangible capital—knowledge or ideas that create value over time but that cannot be touched—now is more important than tangible capital in a number of developed economies.2Second, intangible capital is fundamentally different from tangible capital in ways that help to explain...


  1. Branstetter, Lee and Daniel Sichel. 2017. The Case for an American Productivity Revival. Peterson Institute for International Economics Policy Brief, No. 17-26, June.Google Scholar
  2. Corrado, Carol, Charles Hulten, and Daniel Sichel. 2005. Measuring Capital and Technology: An Expanded Framework. In Measuring Capital in the New Economy, ed. Carol Corrado, John Haltiwanger, and Daniel Sichel. Chicago: NBER and University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Corrado, Carol, Charles Hulten, and Daniel Sichel. 2009. Intangible Capital and Economic Growth. Review of Income and Wealth, Series 55, No. 3, September.Google Scholar
  4. Hammer, M.C. 1990. Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em. Capitol Record.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© National Association for Business Economics 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsWellesley College and NBERWellesleyUSA

Personalised recommendations