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Ay up

I love Aldaily. It sucks up almost as much of my time as this site!

Fascinating piece Peter.

Do you think the natural/produced/intangible trio is much of an improvement on talking about primary/secondary/tertiary industries?

Ken Stevens

"Of course, the trouble with intangible investments is that they don’t make for easy photo-opportunities."

They do, when described as genuine improvements in education, not just academic but vocational as well. Reverse the dumbing down!

As regards businesses, when the workforce started to be recognised as an asset rather than a cost, some companies did not go much further with this philosophy than to rename the Personnel Department as "Human Resources".

Andy D

Very interesting article.

Angelo Basu

I think that investment in intangible capital in third world countries needs first of all to be in civil institutions as the investment in human capital is pretty pointless in the absence of a system which provides a return for such investment. No point in being trained in a trade but living in a country where there is no economic incentive to practice that trade beyond subsistence level.

The difficulty this poses for aid policy is the difficulty of supporting and building good civil institutions such as a non-corrupt and effective system of property rights and dispute resolution.

How do you persuade corrupt officials to stop taking bribes let alone the ruling classes of robber barons of such countries without stepping in to set up and run their civil society for them?

Victor, NW Kent

Hardly a new concept but it is worth highlighting. Refer back to the Marshall Plan which had the objective of setting all hands in Germany and Japan back to work after their economies had been devastated. Inside 10 years they had the fastest growing economies in the world despite the fact that Japan has a very low stock of natural resources and Russia had pillaged the machinery from thousands of German factories. There we saw intangible capital hard at work.
At a comparative time Britain went on a long go-slow and was harried by a socialist government, industrial action and featherbedded practices. In turn we lost our shipbuilding industry, our vehicle manufacturing, coal and mineral mining and most of our food creation. We now exist mainly by taking in other countries financial laundry.


If intangible resources are the source of most of our wealth, then efficient allocation of them is immensely important.

Allocating vast intangible resources to the non productive sector is therefore a dead cert way of slowing down economic growth. Creating friction in the free flow of these resources is also stupidity. Bang goes all of Gimmick Gordon's ideas.

Peter Franklin

"Do you think the natural/produced/intangible trio is much of an improvement on talking about primary/secondary/tertiary industries?"

Not much of an improvement I guess -- but it helps us take a fresh look at the issues involved!

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