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Intangible capital and the investment-q relation

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  • Peters, Ryan H.
  • Taylor, Lucian A.

Abstract

The neoclassical theory of investment has mainly been tested with physical investment, but we show that it also helps explain intangible investment. At the firm level, Tobin’s q explains physical and intangible investment roughly equally well, and it explains total investment even better. Compared with physical capital, intangible capital adjusts more slowly to changes in investment opportunities. The classic q theory performs better in firms and years with more intangible capital: Total and even physical investment are better explained by Tobin’s q and are less sensitive to cash flow. At the macro level, Tobin’s q explains intangible investment many times better than physical investment. We propose a simple, new Tobin’s q proxy that accounts for intangible capital, and we show that it is a superior proxy for both physical and intangible investment opportunities.

Suggested Citation

  • Peters, Ryan H. & Taylor, Lucian A., 2017. "Intangible capital and the investment-q relation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 251-272.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:123:y:2017:i:2:p:251-272
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jfineco.2016.03.011
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Intangible capital; Investment; Tobin’s q; R&D; Organization capital;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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