Jonathan Haskel, Professor of Economics at Imperial College Business School, gave a talk to the Keynes Society on the topic of “Capitalism without Capital – The rise of the intangible economy”. This riveting talk was based on Professor Haskel's co-authored book of the same title.
Professor Haskel began the evening by talking about some of the economic and political problems in the world, such as secular stagnation and the rise of the liberal citadels. In particular, he focused on how in the USA these problems result in the liberal ideal being solemnly present in the major cities, and in turn lacking in the countryside. Subsequently, he went on to discuss the rise of the intangible economy, where people invest in immaterial things like R&D and software design rather than physical assets like buildings and office supplies. This rise was justified via globalisation and the changing balance between the service and the manufacturing industries in the modern economies, especially in first world countries.
Professor Haskel then spoke about the consequences of the rise of the intangible economy and the potential dangers of it, such as the fact that immaterial assets are extremely hard to quantify as well as to protect from being stolen. The examples mentioned were Nokia, which failed to sell its software for any reasonable price yet managed to obtain a solid payment for its corporate building; in addition, he drew attention to the iPhone, whose design inspired most of the current smartphones. An insightful Q&A concluded the talk, during which concepts like the relationship between the gig and the intangible economy were discussed,
We would like to thank Professor Haskel for giving such a thought provoking talk and Mr. Bird for helping to organise the meeting.