"Not enough people are paying attention to this economic trend," writes Bill Gates, challenging the widespread use of forecasts and policies based on a "supply and demand" economic model. An anonymous reader quotes the Gates Notes blog: Software doesn't work like this. Microsoft might spend a lot of money to develop the first unit of a new program, but every unit after that is virtually free to produce. Unlike the goods that powered our Economy in the past, software is an intangible asset. And software isn't the only example: data, insurance, e-books, even movies work in similar ways. The portion of the world's economy that doesn't fit the old model just keeps getting larger. That has major implications for everything from tax law to economic policy to which cities thrive and which cities fall behind, but in general, the rules that govern the economy haven't kept up. This is one of the biggest trends in the global economy that isn't getting enough attention. If you want to understand why this matters, the brilliant new book Capitalism Without Capital by Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake is about as good an explanation as I've seen.... They don't act like there's something evil about the trend or prescribe hard policy solutions. Instead they take the time to convince you why this transition is important and offer broad ideas about what countries can do to keep up in a world where the "Ec 10" supply and demand chart is increasingly irrelevant. "What the book reinforced for me is that lawmakers need to adjust their economic policymaking to reflect these new realities," Gates writes, adding "a lot has changed since the 1980s. It's time the way we think about the economy does, too."
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