Douglas Lippoldt (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD), discussed the roll of intangibles in European economies and explained why the OECD is pursuing work in this area. Among the reasons is the growing recognition that intellectual assets are central to value creation, growth, and competitiveness of a modern economy. Also, as noted by nearly all the workshop presenters, he emphasized that continued shortfalls in measurement and understanding of these processes ultimately hamper decision making at many levels. He concluded by outlining OECD’s interests in exploring the relationship between intellectual assets and innovation.

The importance of corporate reporting was stressed throughout the workshop. Following a common theme of the day, Lippoldt stated that the OECD would pursue government policies to promote identification and dissemination of best practices in voluntary reporting. His hope in voluntary measures rests on the idea that disclosure can enable investors to better assess future earnings and risks, improve transparency in financial markets, and foster the possibility of allocating resources efficiently. On the business operations side, openness in the management of assets and accountability can potentially reduce the cost of capital. Lev and others called for the development of templates and the generation of peer pressure to promote their use.

Kenan Jarboe (Athena Alliance) offered policy prescriptions, in the U.S. context, for reversing the fact that, right now, intangibles are largely invisible. In order to improve measurement and, in turn, management of these assets, he offered policy recommendations to (1) encourage understanding of intangibles—such as to create a safe harbor in financial statements for reporting of intangible assets; (2) to encourage financial investment intangibles—for example, by creating a central national registry of intellectual property security interests; and (3) to foster the use of intangibles—using such policies as a permanent knowledge tax credit to increase investments in intangibles.

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