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Can’t find this paper – anyone any ideas?

Britain misses out on £143 billion in lost economic output a year because of the unwillingness of investors to spend on critical areas of the modern economy such as software, research and patents.

A study, co-authored by Jonathan Haskel, the Bank of England rate-setter, and Stian Westlake, of the Royal Statistical Society, found that the UK’s inability to invest equivalent amounts to those of the United States in the “intangible economy” from 2007 to 2019 had resulted in the loss of £2,144 per household, or 0.5 percentage points of GDP a year.

That was published May 23 this year. So, presumably, the report came out May 24th. But I cannot find it – a couple of books by the same folk, but not this paper.

What I want to check is what are they defining as business investment? If they’re relying on the national accounts then they’re going to be wrong…..

6 thoughts on “Can’t find this paper – anyone any ideas?”

  1. ” and investments in intangible assets needs to be expensed at the cost of profit in the short term. ”

    That at least touches on my point. The standard GDP source for investment is from corporate accounts for what is expensed over more than one accounting period. But investment in intangibles is normally written off as a current cost. Therefore we simply do not have accurate figures.

    Another example, buying software. This used to be investment, buy a 2 or 5 year licence etc. Expensed over time, depreciated. Investment. Now it’s likely to be SaaS – that’s a current expense. But it’s still buying software and GDP accounting won;t show it. And this is something that really is a mistake made – Goldman Sachs did an analysis on software spending entirely ignoring SaaS in full. Ludicrous.

  2. Haskel once defined the value of open source as the labour that went into making it so I’m not holding my breath. Although the Frascati definitions are inclusive, the application of eligibility of software development is significantly different between the UK and the US, the UK requires at the last the intention of patentability thus removing nearly all software D from the UK R&D credit figures – as its otherwise often opex (even if the output is then capitalised) it’s often not recorded as R&D as its embedded into other activities such as integration and deployment or customisation or other lines of business and its simply not worth tracking down. US threshold for patentability is also lower and historically at least did not look at the non US patent record nor other published material to exclude software patent applications on prior art terms. That’s improved significantly but again will distort historical figures. Not to say the UK doesn’t underinvest in intangibles but proving it is hellish.

  3. Ducky McDuckface

    Ah, software buying (and hardware as well) – just before I left a firm around 1990 or so, they’d made a horrible discovery – they’d been putting all PC purchases, hardware and software, through as a current expense. This was down to who had sign off authority within each user department, done within their “normal” operating budgets.

    Oops. They had to redo the accounts. FWIW its worth, I reckon the team I was on rolled out about £5 million worth of kit over two and a half years.

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