Ian Hathaway with Robert Litan. Are we seeing unproductive entrepreneurship? We don’t have a smoking gun to confirm this hypothesis, but there surely is smoke, and it comes in two forms: rising profits, especially those earned by the largest businesses in the economy, and suggestive evidence of an increase in efforts to shape the rules of the […]
Since 1980, US corporate valuations have risen relative to assets and operating margins have grown. The possibility of sustained economic rents has raised concerns about economic dynamism and inequality. But rising profits could come from political rents or, instead, from returns to investments in intangibles. This paper explores these factors using new data on Federal regulation and data on lobbying, campaign spending, R&D, and organizational capital.