In this episode, Peter Lewin, Professor of Economics in the Naveen Jindal School of Management at the University of Texas at Dallas, talks about capital, defining it, understanding it, optimizing it, identifying its role in business, and how it becomes valuable.
0:00 | Introduction to capital value
0:45 | Introducing guest: Peter Lewin
2:46 | Capital and Flow of value
10:52 | Inbound & outbound flow thru time
14:28 | Net Present Value
15:52 | Free cash flow vs. EVA.
22:51 | Value drivers
25:43 | Advertising campaigns
27:20 | Interest elasticity of present value
31:24 | About business advice
33:16 | Connecting EVA. with value drivers
38:15 | Sports analogy
What is capital? Capital is value. And since all value is subjective, capital can be understood as the value subjectively attributed to any resources available to a business for production. That means it includes capital goods like machines and offices, intangibles like brands and lines of code, and people and their skills and their knowledge, both tacit and explicit, accumulated and evolving.
To put a number on this value (what we might call “market value”) requires an assessment that’s informed by subjective calculation. The business executive assesses the future cash flows attributable to the capital asset, discounted to the present period so that a number can be placed on capital value and it can be captured on the asset side of the balance sheet of the business. These future cash flows are an estimate of the experience value the customer will attribute to the goods and services the capital produces. Expected experience value lies behind the customer’s willingness to pay, which is where cash flow comes from. So capital value is a subjective estimate by the business of the subjective value the customer will experience in the future. It’s a tricky calculation, but one at which an entrepreneurial business must be skilled – and honest. Over-confidence about future cash flows resulting from value creation activities represents the entrepreneur’s greatest uncertainty.
Capital is the value attributed by the valuer at any moment in time to the combination of production-goods and labor available for production. Capital is the result obtained by calculating the current value of a business-unit or business-project that employs resources over time. It is the result of a (subjective) entrepreneurial calculation process that relates the flow of consumptions goods to the value of the productive resources that will produce those consumptions goods. The entrepreneur is a ubiquitous calculating presence. In a review of the development of Austrian capital theory, by Carl Menger, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig Lachmann as well as recent contributions, the Element incorporates the seminal contributions into the new framework in order to provide a more accessible perspective on Austrian capital theory.