Yuqing Xing, 27 May 2021

Factoryless goods producers are a fruitful consequence of the evolution of global value chains. This column shows that the trade value of their output may be largely underestimated. The true export value to producers like Apple and Nike to countries like China – where many of these companies’ products are assembled – is far higher than the value of the tangible good itself, when embedded intangible assets and IP are taken into account. Yet this is not reflected in the measurement of bilateral trade flows. If it were, it would paint a very different picture of US exports and the trade deficit.

Robin Döttling, Lev Ratnovski, 19 March 2021

Technological progress increases the importance of corporate intangible assets such as research and development knowledge, organisational structure, and brand equity. Using US data covering 1990 to 2017, this column shows that the stock prices and investment of firms with more intangible assets respond less to monetary policy shocks. Similarly, intangible investment responds less to monetary policy compared to tangible investment. The key channel explaining these effects is a weaker credit channel of monetary policy, as firms with intangible assets use less debt.

Stephen Cecchetti, Kim Schoenholtz, 22 February 2018

Investment is shifting from tangible physical assets to intangible goods like software, data, and R&D. This column analyses the impact of this shift on the structure of firm financing. The financial system’s shift from public to private equity is, on the whole, an encouraging reflection of its response to the changing needs of the economy.

Jonathan Haskel, 04 November 2017

Modern companies seem to make three times more revenues with half the tangible assets. In this video, Jonathan Haskel discusses what the move to knowledge investment means. This video was recorded at Imperial College Business School, in November 2017.

Ana Rincon Aznar, Anastasios Saraidaris, Michela Vecchi, Francesco Venturini, 24 April 2014

The importance of innovation activities for productivity growth has long been recognised. However, there are significant differences in the level of intangible investments across developed economies. This column describes how the EU can enhance its productivity growth and close the gap with the US. One such main channel is through investing in intangible assets and absorptive capacity. A second one is increasing production efficiency. Relevant policy recommendations are also discussed.

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