Subject: Re: near/medium future digital media economics
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Wed, 24 May 2006 16:51:50 +0900

>>>>> "Santiago" == Santiago Gala <> writes:

    Santiago> Is it true that things have value whether or not we
    Santiago> actually use them?

Sure.  I would put it differently, but both Ian's and Forrest's
comments are useful here, and I don't have much to add.

Except that I would differ from Ian about imputed values (such as
those used in benefit-cost analysis) being "making things up".  Some
are hard to understand unless you drink the economist's Kool-Aid (such
as imputed value of human life), but for less abstract and personal
"goods", mostly people find them more accurate than market valuations.

    Santiago> My question comes from the fact that no National
    Santiago> accounting system takes into account the value of
    Santiago> forests or fisheries, for instance, except as companies
    Santiago> exploit them or the gov. issues concessions.

That's not really the problem.  The problem is that national
accounting doesn't have a balance sheet.  _No_ assets or liabilities
are carried on standard national accounts, really; everything is in
flow terms.  (This is not to be confused with government finance,
which does have a balance sheet.  The government is only part of the
story, so it doesn't satisfy the need for national asset accounts.)

So any accounting for national assets is inherently missing from the
standard systems of national accounts.

    Santiago> Am I completely off base comparing the un-accountancy of
    Santiago> intangibles like network connections with scarce (but
    Santiago> not accounted) resources like air quality or
    Santiago> biodiversity)

Depends on why you're asking, but I would say "yes."  Network
connections (or even network connectivity) are intangible, but not
unaccounted for.  The measures are admittedly crude and inaccurate.
The public assets and liabilities you're talking about, on the other
hand, are just not considered at all.

Graduate School of Systems and Information Engineering   University of Tsukuba        Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
        Economics of Information Communication and Computation Systems
          Experimental Economics, Microeconomic Theory, Game Theory