Chapter 8The Rise of Intangibles and Fall of Accounting

The Intangibles Surge

Figure 8.1, which traces the pattern of US corporate investment in tangible (plant, equipment, inventory) and intangible assets over the past 40 years will surely surprise you. What you see is truly a tectonic economic shift: The rate of investment in what many people still think of as the real assets—physical capital—fell by 35 percent over the period, whereas the rate of investment in intangibles—what Alan Greenspan called conceptual assets—increased by almost 60 percent, and keeps rising. Note, in particular, the continuously ...

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