Intangibles are harder to measure, harder to quantify, often more difficult to manage, evaluate, and account for than tangible assets. There is no common language for sharing information about intangible sources of value, and the language used tends to be descriptive rather than quantitative and concrete. Unseen Wealth stresses the importance of developing standards for identifying, measuring, and accounting for intangible assets, and recommends actions to government and business for improving the quality and quantity of available information about intangible investments. The book articulates a three-pronged set of reforms to help companies construct better business and reporting models, improve the quality of financial reporting, and clarify intellectual property right laws. Unseen Wealth was developed by the Brookings Task Force on Intangibles, which includes business leaders, consultants, accounting professionals, economists, intellectual property lawyers, and policy analysts.
Margaret M. Blair is a senior fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution and author of Ownership and Control: Rethinking Corporate Governance for the Twenty-first Century (Brookings, 1995). Steven M. H. Wallman is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He is the founder and CEO of the financial services and brokerage firm FOLIOfn.com.