This article presents an interpretation of some major changes affecting the competitive behaviour of firms today. The underlying postulate is a shift from tangible to intangible factors of competitive advantage - from natural resources, machinery and financial capital, now regarded as commodities, to "non-price" factors of competition. The accelerating pace of value-chain erosion is driving a relentless search for new factors of differentiation and market leverage, with the result that firms are trying to create, maintain or invade monopolies founded on intangibles. This has led to some subtle, but highly significant, shifts in the economy, which have gone largely undetected. Accordingly, the paper argues the case for transparency, and calls for much richer disclosure of the real asset base of firms and public enterprises. In developing these ideas, the paper presents a new perspective on the knowledge value chain, and concludes by examining some of the challenges for the European policy community, based on the preliminary results of the PRISM research initiative.