1 Perfect Competition Chapter CHAPTER OUTLINE 1. Explain a perfectly competitive firm s profit-maximizing choices and derive its supply curve. A. Perfect Competition B. Other Market Types C. Price Taker D. Revenue Concepts E. Profit-Maximizing Output F. Marginal Analysis and the Supply Decision G. Exit and Temporary Shutdown Decisions H. The Firm s Short-Run Supply Curve 2. Explain how output, price, and profit are determined in the short run. A. Market Supply in the Short Run B. Short-Run Equilibrium in Good Times C. Short-Run Equilibrium in Bad Times 3. Explain how output, price, and profit are determined in the long run and explain why perfect competition is efficient. A. Entry and Exit 1. The Effects of Entry 2. The Effects of Exit B. Change in Demand C. Technological Change D. Is Perfect Competition Efficient? E. Is Perfect Competition Fair? CHAPTER ROADMAP What s New in this Edition? The material dealing with external economies and diseconomies of scale has been eliminated. In its place is a dis
2 324 Part 5. PRICES, PROFITS, AND INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE cussion of the efficiency of perfect competition and the fairness of perfect competition. Where We Are In this chapter, we examine the profit maximizing decisions made by a perfectly competitive firm in the short run and the long run. To do so, we use the groundwork on firms costs laid in the previous chapter. Where We ve Been In Chapter 13 we use the foundation built in Chapter 12, which studied firms production and costs. The cost material covered in Chapter 12 remains important throughout not only Chapter 13 but also Chapters 14, 15, and 16. Where We re Going After this chapter, we continue studying firms behavior by looking at the demand and marginal revenue curves for monopolies, oligopolies and monopolistically competitive firms. By combining the cost, demand, and revenue curves, we will see operating decisions faced by these firms and we can compare them with those made by perfectly competitive firms. IN THE CLASSROOM Class Time Needed This chapter is very important. Perfect competition is the standard against which other industries are compared, so do not rush through this material. You should plan on spending at least two and a half class sessions and possibly even three. An estimate of the time per checkpoint is: 13.1 A Firm s Profit Maximizing Choices 60 to 80 minutes 13.2 Output, Price, and Profit in the Short Run 30 to 50 minutes 13.3 Output, Price, and Profit in the Long Run 30 to 40 minutes
3 Chapter 13. Perfect Competition 325 CHAPTER LECTURE 13.1 A Firm s Profit-Maximizing Choices Perfect competition exists when Many firms sell identical products to many buyers There are no restrictions on entry into the industry Established firms have no advantage over existing ones Sellers and buyers are well informed about prices Other market types are: Monopoly, a market for a good or service that has no close substitutes and in which there is one supplier that is protected from competition by a barrier preventing the entry of new firms. Monopolistic competition, a market in which a large number of firms compete by making similar but slightly different products. Oligopoly, a market in which a small number of firms compete. Have the students consider the markets for goods for which they are familiar to see if any meet the strict criteria for perfect competition. The markets that come closest are agricultural markets, though others such as lawn service, laundromats, fishing, plumbing, and so on, come close. Students sometimes worry that these markets are not exact examples of perfect competition. Reassure them that the model of perfect competition gives us a great deal of understanding into the workings of extremely competitive real world markets and the real world firms in the markets. A firm s objective is to maximize economic profit, which is the difference between total revenue (the price of the firm s output multiplied by the quantity sold) and its total cost of production. Part of the total cost is the normal profit. Price Taker Perfectly competitive firms are price takers, a firm that cannot influence the market price and so it sets its own price equal to the market price. Revenue Concepts Because the firm is a price taker, its marginal revenue which is the change in total revenue that results in a one unit increase in the quantity sold is equal to the market price and remains constant as output sold increases. The firm s demand is perfectly elastic and the firm s demand curve is a horizontal line at the market price. Profit-Maximizing Output The firm produces the quantity of output for which the difference between total revenue and total cost is at its maximum because this difference is its economic profit. Marginal analysis can be used to determine the profit maximizing quantity. The firm compares the marginal revenue (which remains constant with output) to the marginal cost (which changes with output) of producing different levels of output.
4 326 Part 5. PRICES, PROFITS, AND INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE When MR > MC, then the extra revenue from selling one more unit exceeds the extra cost of producing one more unit, so the firm increases its output to increase its profit. When MR < MC, then the extra cost of producing one more unit exceeds the extra revenue from selling one more unit, so the firm decreases its output to increase its profits When MR = MC, then the extra cost of producing one more unit equals the extra revenue from selling one more unit, so the firm s profit is maximized at this level of output. In the figure, the firm maximizes its profit by producing q. The Firm s Short-Run Supply Curve The firm will temporarily shut down in the short run when price falls below the price that just allows it to cover its total variable cost. The minimum AVC is the lowest price at which the firm will operate because if it operated with a lower price, the firm s loss would be greater than if it shut down. The loss when the firm shuts down is equal to its fixed cost. As long as the firm remains open, it produces where MR = MC. So the firm s supply curve is its MC curve above the minimum AVC. At prices below the minimum AVC, the firm shuts down and supplies zero. Monday is typically the slowest day in the restaurant industry. So why do restaurants stay open on Monday? The answer is that even if a restaurant incurs an economic loss on Monday, it still might increase its total profit by remaining open. The point is that as long as the restaurant can cover all its variable costs the cost of the food, the cost of the servers, and so on it likely will be able to pay some of its fixed costs using the revenue left over after paying its variable costs. As long as the restaurant can pay some of its fixed costs on Monday, its total profit by staying open exceeds what its total profit would be if it closed. So losing money on Monday might be good business!
5 Chapter 13. Perfect Competition Output, Price, and Profit in the Short Run Market Supply in the Short Run The market supply curve in the short run shows the quantity supplied by the industry at each possible price when the number of firms is fixed. The quantity supplied in the industry at any price is the summation of all quantities supplied by each firm at that price. Short-Run Equilibrium in Good Times There are three possible profit outcomes an economic profit, zero economic profit, and an economic loss. If the price exceeds the ATC, the firm earns an economic profit. The figure illustrates a perfectly competitive firm that is earning an economic profit. The firm produces 4 units, has a price of $3 per unit, and earns an economic profit equal to the area of the darkened rectangle. Short-Run Equilibrium in Bad Times If the price is less than the ATC, the firm incurs an economic loss. The figure illustrates a perfectly competitive firm that is suffering an economic loss.. The firm produces 3 units, has a price of $3 per unit, and incurs an economic loss is equal to the area of the darkened rectangle.
6 328 Part 5. PRICES, PROFITS, AND INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE 13.3 Output, Price, and Profit in the Long Run If the price equals the ATC, the firm earns zero economic profit. In this case, the firm earns a normal profit. Entry and Exit Changes in market demand influence the output and the entry or exit decisions made by firms. An increase in market demand shifts the demand curve rightward and raises the market price. Each firm in the industry responds by increasing its quantity supplied. The higher price now exceeds each firm s minimum ATC and the firms in the industry earn an economic profit. The economic profit motivates firms to enter the industry, thereby increasing the market supply. The market supply curve shifts rightward and the market price falls. Eventually the price falls to equal the minimum ATC for each firm in the industry. At this price, firms in the industry no longer earn an economic profit. The effects of a decrease in market demand are the opposite of those outlined above: The price falls, firms incur an economic loss, some firms exit thereby decreasing the supply and so the price rises until the surviving firms earn a normal profit. When demand for a good increases so that the existing firms in an industry earn an economic profit, the economic profit indicates that consumers are willing to pay a higher price for the good than they were willing to pay before the demand increased. The economic profit for the firms is a signal from the consumers to the owners of firms in other industries that society now values the availability of the good more highly than the availability of goods from those other industries. These self interested firm owners choose to enter the industry in order to earn an economic profit. Their self interested decisions promote the social interest by using more resources to produce those goods that are more highly valued by society. The dynamic behavior of a perfectly competitive market characterizes the invisible hand coined by Adam Smith. Change in Technology New, cost saving technologies typically require new plant and equipment. So it takes time for new technology to spread throughout an industry. Firms that adopt the new technology lower their costs and their supply curves shift rightward. The price of the good falls, so that firms using the old technology incur economic losses. Old technology firms either adopt the new technology or else exit the industry. In the long run, all the firms use the new technology and earn zero economic profit. Is Perfect Competition Efficient? Resource allocation in a market is efficient when society values no other use of the resources more highly. Resource use is efficient when production is such that the marginal benefit of the good equals the marginal cost of the good.
7 Chapter 13. Perfect Competition 329 A firm s supply curve for a good is its marginal cost curve and so the market supply curve for a good is the society s marginal cost curve. The demand curve is the marginal benefit curve. In a competitive equilibrium, the quantity demanded equals the quantity supplied. The demand curve is the same as the marginal benefit curve and the supply curve is the same as the marginal cost curve, so at the competitive equilibrium, the marginal benefit equals the marginal cost. Resource use is efficient. Because resources are used efficiently, at the competitive equilibrium there is no other allocation of resources that will generate greater net benefits to society. The figure shows this outcome, where resource use is efficient at the equilibrium quantity of 3,000 units. Is Perfect Competition Fair? Perfect competition allows anyone to enter the market and the process of competition brings the maximum benefits for consumers. So fairness of opportunity and fairness as equality of outcomes are achieved in perfect competition in the long run.
8 330 Part 5. PRICES, PROFITS, AND INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE Lecture Launchers 1. Launch your lecture by drawing a spectrum of market types noting the four market structures to be studied in this and the next chapters. Let your students know that you will be comparing how a firm in each of these market structures chooses its equilibrium price and equilibrium quantity. Putting this diagram on the board provides a good foundation for the following chapters. 2. For Chapters 13, 14, 15, and 16, the students, with the instructor s guidance, can create a chart similar to the one below. They would, for each market structure, suggest real world examples of industries that fit the market structure, tell how prices are set, what problems and what benefits the consumer and producer face in each market structure, and what role the government might play in each market structure. You also can add other topics is there an economic profit in the long run?; can the firm price discriminate?; and so forth. The information could put by the instructor on the course web site, or assembled for a handout to be given at the end of presentation of Chapter 16. Perfect competition Monopoly Monopolistic competition Oligopoly Examples Setting price Consumer advantages Consumer drawbacks Producer advantages Producer drawbacks Role of government 3. Once you discuss the characteristics that define perfect competition (many firms selling an identical product to many buyers, no restrictions on entry, established firms have no cost advantage over new firms, and sellers and buyers are well informed about prices) it is natural to give examples of perfectly competitive markets. The examples that always spring to mind are ag
9 Chapter 13. Perfect Competition 331 ricultural in nature. Often students, particularly those in urban areas, wonder why they will spend so much of their time studying agriculture. You need to combat the natural view that the model of perfect competition applies only to farms. There are two, complementary paths you can take: First, tell your students that although agriculture certainly meets all the requirements of perfect competition, a lot of other industries come close. If you have a mall near by, you can assign your students to walk through the mall and take note of the different types of businesses and list those that they think are closest to perfect competition. Businesses such as shoe stores, jewelry, toy stores, book stores, hair salons, and so forth are all commonly found in malls and are all relatively close to being in perfectly competitive markets. For instance, you can point out to the students that one jewelry store s products aren t identical to those of any other jewelry store, but they are very close substitutes. So, although the jewelry market does not exactly meet the definition of a perfectly competitive market, nonetheless it is likely close enough so that if we want to understand the forces that affect firms within this industry, perfect competition is a reasonable starting point. Second, you can use a physical analogy. Ask your students how many of them have taken physics and encountered the assumption of a perfect vacuum. A perfect vacuum cannot exist and our world is not close to being a perfect vacuum. Yet physicists often use the model of a perfect vacuum to understand our physical world. For example, to predict how long it will take a 50 pound steel ball to hit the ground if it is dropped from the top of the Empire State Building, you will be very close to the actual time if you assume a perfect vacuum and use the formula that applies in that case. Friction from the atmosphere is obviously not zero, but assuming it to be zero is not very misleading. In contrast, if you want to predict how long it will take a feather to make the same trip, you need a fancier model! Economists use the model of perfect competition in a similar way to understand our economic world. Emphasize to students that although no real world industry meets the full definition of perfect competition, the behavior of firms in many real world industries and the resulting dynamics of their market prices and quantities can be predicted to a high degree of accuracy by using the model of perfect competition. 4. Every term you probably have students who ask, Do firms really choose the output that maximizes profit? To answer this question, perhaps before it is asked, it is useful to explain to your students that many big firms routinely make tables using spreadsheets of total revenue, total cost, and economic profit. But most firms, and certainly most small firms, don t make such calculations. Nonetheless, they do make their decisions at the margin. They can figure out how much it will cost to hire one more worker and how much output that worker will produce. So they can figure out their mar
10 332 Part 5. PRICES, PROFITS, AND INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE ginal cost wage rate divided by marginal product. They can compare that number with the price. They are choosing at the margin as our model of perfect competition assumes. Land Mines 1. Show what is meant by the term price taker by drawing the market supply and market demand curves and the resulting equilibrium price on the left side of the board and then draw the firm s demand and marginal revenue curves on a separate graph on the right side of the board. Draw a dotted line across from the market graph to the firm graph. Really emphasize the fact that the market demand differs from the firm s demand because the firm is such a small part of the market. Students consistently confuse the difference between the market demand and the firm s demand, so the more time you spend clearly explaining this distinction, the better. 2. You always will have students asking why the firm bothers to produce the precise unit of output for which MR = MC. Indeed, it is simply amazing how many students worry about this one particular unit of output! Try the following: Draw the conventional upward sloping MC curve and horizontal MR curve. Make sure to draw these so that the firm will produce a good deal of output. Then, starting at 0, move a bit to the right along the horizontal axis and stop at a point. Tell the students that this point measures 1 unit of output and ask them if this unit should be produced. The answer ought to be yes, because you have arranged matters so MR > MC. Pick some numbers say, MR = $10 and MC = $1. Ask your students what the profit is for this unit and what the firm s total profit is if it produces only 1 unit. The answers are $9 and $9. Below the x axis, label two rows, one called profit on the unit and the other total profit. Put $9 and $9 in each space under your 1 unit of output. Then move your finger a bit more along the horizontal axis until you come to where you will define the second unit of output. Ask your students if this second unit should be produced. Again, the answer ought to be yes, because you have arranged matters so MR > MC. Pick another number for MC, say $2. Ask your students what the profit is on this unit and what the firm s total profit is if it produces 2 units. The answers are $8 and $17. Stress that the total profit is what interests the firm and the total profit equals the sum of the profit from the first unit plus the profit from the second unit. Pick a couple of more units and use numbers until you fell it is safe to generalize that the firm produces a unit of output as long as MR > MC. Then, slide your finger to the right, stopping at closer and closer intervals, asking the class if that particular unit should be produced. Always stress that the firm s total profit continues to increase, albeit more and more slowly. As you get closer to the magical MR equal to MC point, make your stopping intervals even closer. Finally, when you reach
11 Chapter 13. Perfect Competition 333 MR = MC, tell the students that although this specific unit yields no profit, to have stopped anywhere before it means that the firm would have lost some profit. So, only by producing where MR = MC will the firm obtain the maximum total profit. 3. Students need repeated reminders that to determine whether a firm can increase profit by changing output, price and marginal cost are the only things to consider. Questions that throw average total cost into the mix often cause confusion. 4. Students are often skeptical that a zero economic profit is an acceptable outcome for an entrepreneur. The key is to reinforce the meaning of normal profit. A rational decision is one that is based on a weighing of the full opportunity cost of each alternative against its full benefits. Opportunity cost includes the benefits from forgone opportunities as well as explicit costs. One of these forgone opportunities for the entrepreneur is pursuing his or her next best activity. The value of this forgone opportunity is normal profit. So, when a firm earns zero economic profit, the entrepreneur earns normal profit and enjoys the same benefits as those available in the next best activity. There is no incentive to change to the next best activity. 5. Explaining whether a firm exits, temporarily shuts down, or produces even though it has an economic loss is difficult because the last two topics are tough for the students to understand. Exit is the easiest for them to understand because they have seen firms fail throughout their life. But, temporary shutdown is harder to explain. You can help them with the intuition by pointing out that the rationale for temporary shutdown isn t confined to perfect competition and that they can see the phenomenon right around the corner. Many restaurants close on Sunday evening and Monday. Many hairdressers close on Sunday and Monday. Why? Your students will easily figure out that total revenue is less than total variable cost and equivalently that price is less than average variable cost. The mechanics of the shutdown analysis will be a lot easier to explain once the students have thought about these real situations with which they are familiar. Students can have a hard time understanding why operating at an economic loss can be the best action. I use a story to help them see this point, Wally s Wiener World hot dog cart. Wally has four costs: his variable costs for his hot dogs, buns, and mustard and his fixed cost for the interest he pays for the loan he used to buy his cart. (If you choose, you can make up numbers for each of these costs.) When price is greater than average variable cost, P>AVC, Wally can pay for his hot dogs, buns, and mustard, and part of the interest cost, his fixed cost. I show that because he can pay part of his fixed cost, he should stay open. But if P < AVC, Wally can t even pay for all the dogs, buns, and mustard, much less pay for the interest on his loan. In this circumstance, Wally is better off by shutting down.
12 334 Part 5. PRICES, PROFITS, AND INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE ANSWERS TO CHECKPOINT EXERCISES CHECKPOINT 13.1 A Firm s Profit-Maximizing Choices 1a. Paula s total revenue equals the price multiplied by the quantity produced, which is 800 boxes $15 a box = $12,000. 1b. The market is perfectly competitive, so Paula s marginal revenue equals the price. So, Paula s marginal revenue is $15 a box. 1c. Paula is not maximizing profit because marginal cost ($18) is greater than marginal revenue ($15). She should decrease her production until marginal cost falls to $15 because then her marginal cost equals her marginal revenue and she would maximize her profit. 1d. If the price is $12 a box, Paula s marginal revenue is $12 a box. Paula is maximizing profit by selling 500 boxes a week because marginal cost equals the marginal revenue. Paula is incurring an economic loss if she has any fixed costs because in that case price is less than average total cost. 1e. One point on Paula s supply curve is a price of $12 and quantity of 500 boxes a week. The combination of a price of $15 and quantity of 800 boxes a week is not on Paula s supply curve because at that combination she is not maximizing her profit. So this combination is only temporary because Paula will change her production in order to maximize her profit. CHECKPOINT 13.2 Output, Price, and Profit in the Short Run 1a. If the market price is $20 a tattoo, the marginal revenue is $20 a tattoo. The marginal cost of the fifth tattoo is the total cost of 5 tattoos minus the total cost of 4 tattoos, which is $110 $90 = $20. So, Tom sells 5 tattoos an hour because the marginal cost of the fifth tattoo, $20, equals the marginal revenue. 1b. The average total cost of a tattoo equals the total cost divided by the quantity of tattoos, or $110 5 tattoos = $22 a tattoo. The price of a tattoo is $20 a tattoo, so Tom makes an economic profit of $20 minus $22, which is $2 a tattoo. Tom sells 5 tattoos an hour, so his total economic profit equals $2 5 tattoos, which is $10. Tom incurs an economic loss of $10 an hour. 2a. If the market price falls to $15 a tattoo, the marginal revenue is $15 a tattoo. If Tom remains open, the marginal cost of the fourth tattoo is the total cost of 4 tattoos minus the total cost of 3 tattoos, which is $90 $75 = $15. So, Tom sells 4 tattoos an hour because the marginal cost of the fourth tattoo, $15, equals the marginal revenue. Alternatively, Tom might shut down and produce 0 because the price, $15, is the same as the minimum average variable cost. 2b. If Tom remains open, the average total cost of a tattoo equals the total cost divided by the quantity of tattoos, which is $90 4 tattoos = $22.50 a tattoo.
13 Chapter 13. Perfect Competition 335 The price of a tattoo is $15, so Tom makes an economic profit of $15.00 minus $22.50, which is $7.50 a tattoo. Tom sells 4 tattoos an hour, so his total economic profit equals $ tattoos, which is $30. Tom incurs an economic loss of $30 an hour. Alternatively, if Tom shuts down, then Tom s economic loss equals his fixed cost, $30. Tom s loss is the same regardless of whether he remains open or shuts down. 3a. The price at which Tom shuts down equals minimum average variable cost. Average variable cost equals total variable cost divided by the quantity produced. And, total variable cost equals total cost minus fixed cost. Tom s total fixed cost is $30, his total cost when zero tattoos are produced. When Tom produces 4 tattoos, his total variable cost is $90 $30, which is $60 and so his average variable cost is $60 4 = $15. This is the minimum average variable cost. As a result, Tom shuts down at any price less than $15 a tattoo. 3b. When Tom shuts down, his loss equals his total fixed cost, which is $30. CHECKPOINT 13.3 Output, Price, and Profit in the Long Run 1a. If the market price is $20 a tattoo, marginal revenue equals $20 a tattoo. The marginal cost of the fifth tattoo is the total cost of 5 tattoos minus the total cost of 4 tattoos, which is $110 $90 = $20. So, Tom sells 5 tattoos an hour because the marginal cost of the fifth tattoo, $20, equals the marginal revenue. The average total cost of a tattoo equals the total cost divided by the quantity of tattoos, which is $110 5 tattoos = $22 a tattoo. The price of a tattoo is $20 a tattoo, so Tom makes an economic profit of $20 minus $22, which is $2 a tattoo. Tom sells 5 tattoos an hour, so his total economic profit equals $2 5 tattoos, which is $10. Tom incurs an economic loss of $10. 1b. Because firms are incurring an economic loss, tattoo firms exit the industry. 1c. In the long run, the price is equal to minimum average total cost, which is $22 a tattoo. 1d. In the long run, Tom sells five tattoos an hour because at this quantity price equals minimum average total cost. 1e. In the long run, Tom makes zero economic profit.
14 336 Part 5. PRICES, PROFITS, AND INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE ANSWERS TO CHAPTER CHECKPOINT EXERCISES 1a. Wheat is sold in a perfectly competitive market. 1b. Jeans are sold in a monopolistically competitive market. Each firm produces a similar but slightly different type of jean. 1c. The film market is an oligopoly. There are four major firms: Kodak, Fuji, Agfa, and Konica. 1d. The toothpaste market is monopolistically competitive with a large number of similar but not identical brands. 1e. The taxi rides are provided by a monopoly. 2. The firm cannot choose its price because it produces only a small portion of the entire market output and its good has perfect substitutes. If the firm increases its production, it has no impact on the market price. If the firm raises the price of its good above the market price, no one buys from it, switching instead to cheaper, perfect substitutes. And, if the firm lowers its price below the market price, the firm does not maximize its profit because it does not pick up any sales beyond what it could have gained even if it did not lower its price. The firm s horizontal demand curve shows it can sell as much output as it wants at the market price. 3a. Lin s Fortunate Cookies operates in a perfectly competitive market because Lin can sell all the fortune cookies he produces at a price of $50 a batch. 3b. Lin s marginal revenue equals the price, $50 a batch. 3c. Lin s marginal revenue equals price because Lin is a price taker. 4a. Lin s cost curves are in Figure Lin produces the quantity at which marginal revenue equals marginal cost. The marginal revenue is $50.00 a batch of cookies. So Lin produces 6.0 batches a day. Lin s economic profit is zero. Firms do not enter or exit the industry. 4b. Lin produces the quantity at which marginal revenue equals marginal cost. The marginal revenue is $35.20 a batch of cookies. So Lin produces 5.0 batches a day. Lin s average total cost is $52, so Lin incurs an economic loss of $16.80 per batch of cookies, which means she incurs a total economic loss of approximately $ Firms exit the industry. 4c. Lin produces the quantity at which marginal revenue equals marginal cost. The marginal revenue is $83 a batch of cook
15 Chapter 13. Perfect Competition 337 ies. So Lin produces 7.5 batches a day. Lin makes an economic profit of $225. Firms enter the industry. 5. At a price of $35.20 a batch of cookies, Lin produces about 5.0 batches; at a price of $40 a batch of cookies, Lin produces 5.5 batches; at a price of $57 a batch of cookies, Lin produces 6.5 batches; and, at a price of $83 a batch, Lin produces 7.5 batches. At any price less than $35.20 a batch, Lin produces no cookies because her minimum average variable cost is $ Figure 13.2 shows Lin s supply curve. 6. Lin s supply curve is the part of the marginal cost curve that is above minimum average variable cost. At prices below minimum average variable cost, Lin produces no cookies. For prices less than minimum average variable cost, $35.00 a batch, Lin incurs a smaller economic loss by shutting down and producing nothing than by remaining open. So, at these low prices, the firm s supply curve runs along the vertical axis. 7a. The short run equilibrium price is $57 a batch of cookies. 7b. The short run equilibrium quantity is 6,500 batches of cookies. 7c. The economic profit per batch of cookies equals the price of a batch of cookies minus the average total cost of a batch of cookies. The price is $57 a batch of cookies. Each firm produces 6.5 batches of cookies, so the average total cost is $50.50 a batch. Economic profit per batch of cookies equals $57.00 per batch of cookies minus $50.50 a batch of cookies, which is $6.50 a batch of cookies. Each firm makes an economic profit of $6.50 a batch of cookies. Each firm produces 6.5 batches of cookies, so the total economic profit is $6.50 a batch of cookies 6.5 batches of cookies, which equals $ d. Existing firms are making an economic profit, so firms enter the industry. 7e. In the long run equilibrium, the price equals minimum average total cost. So the price equals $50 a batch of cookies.
16 338 Part 5. PRICES, PROFITS, AND INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE 7f. At a price of $50 a batch of cookies, the quantity demanded is 7,000 batches. At this price, each firm produces 6.0 batches of cookies, so the total number of firms is 1, Joe s Diner doesn t shut down because the price of a meal is greater than average variable cost. By staying open, even though Joe does not have many customers, he can pay all of the variable costs of remaining open and some of his fixed cost. 9a. Other firms entered the post it note market because 3 M was earning an economic profit. 9b. As years go by, fewer firms enter the market because the economic profit disappears. 9c. If the demand for post it notes decreases, the price falls and some firms incur an economic loss. At some point, these firms leave the market. 10a. Figure 13.3 shows the market for wooden tennis rackets. The initial demand curve is D0 and the supply curve is S. The initial equilibrium price is $80 a racket and the initial equilibrium quantity is 600 rackets an hour. Figure 13.4 shows an individual producer of rackets. The firm initially produces 5 rackets an hour and has a normal profit because the price, $80 a racket, equals average total cost. 10b. The demand for wooden tennis rackets decreases and the demand curve shifts leftward to D1. In the short run, illustrated in Figure 13.3, the equilibrium price of a tennis racket falls to $40 a racket and the equilibrium quan
17 Chapter 13. Perfect Competition 339 tity decreases to 400 rackets an hour. The marginal revenue of the individual producer falls from $80 a racket, MR0, to $40 per racket, MR1. This firm responds by decreasing the quantity of rackets it produces to 3 1/2 rackets an hour. 10c. In the short run, illustrated in Figure 13.4, firms incur an economic loss because price is less than average total cost. As time passes, firms exit the market and the supply decreases. In the case of wooden tennis rackets, the demand decreased sufficiently so that eventually all the firms exited the wooden tennis racket market because today no tennis rackets are made of wood. 11a. Figure 13.5 shows the market for personal computers. The demand curve is D and the initial supply curve is S0. The initial equilibrium price is $2,000 a computer and the initial equilibrium quantity is 400,000 computers per day. Figure 13.6 shows an individual producer of computers. The initial marginal cost curve is MC0, the initial average total cost curve is ATC0, and the initial marginal revenue curve is labeled MR0. The firm initially produces 300 computers a day and has a normal profit because the price, $2,000 a computer, equals average total cost. 11b. The fall in costs shifts the firm s average total cost and marginal cost curve downward, as shown in Figure 13.6 by the shift from ATC0 to ATC1 and from MC0 to MC1. At the initial price of $2,000 a computer, the firms earn an economic profit. So, new firms enter the market and the market supply of computers increases. In the long run, the supply increases and the sup
18 340 Part 5. PRICES, PROFITS, AND INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE ply curve shifts rightward from S0 to S1 in Figure This increase in supply lowers the equilibrium price of a computer, to $1,000 a computer, and increases the equilibrium quantity, to 600,000 computer a day. The fall in the price shifts each firm s marginal revenue curve downward, as illustrated in Figure When the marginal revenue curve falls to MR1, the firm produces 500 computers a day. The firm earns only a normal profit, so there is no longer an incentive for new firms to enter the market. 12a. A typical figure showing the cost and revenue curves is Figure Before the fad began, the scooter firms are in long run equilibrium, earning a normal profit. Figure 13.7 shows a typical firm, producing 40 scooters a day and selling them for $60 each. The firm earns zero economic profit because the price, $60 a scooter, equals the average total cost of producing a scooter. 12b. When the scooter fashion is two years old, the scooter firms are earning an economic profit. A few new firms have entered the market and other firms might be considering entry, but these firms are considering entry only if the existing firms are earning an economic profit. Figure 13.8 illustrates a typical scooter firm that is earning an economic profit. The firm is producing 50 scooters a day and selling them for a price of $80. The firm is earning an economic profit because the price, $80 a scoter, exceeds the average total cost.
19 12c. After the scooter fashion has faded, the price returns to its long run equilibrium. Presuming that the costs of the surviving firms have not changed, the price returns to its initial level. The scooter firms earn only a normal profit. Figure 13.9 illustrates this outcome. In the figure, the firm is producing 40 scooters a day and selling them for $60 each. The firm is earning a normal profit. The price, $60 a scooter, equals the average total cost of producing a scooter. Chapter 13. Perfect Competition 341
20 342 Part 5. PRICES, PROFITS, AND INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE Critical Thinking 13a. Airport security providers earned an economic profit in The demand for their services increased substantially, so the price rose. The price exceeded the firms average total cost and so they earned an economic profit. 13b. In the future, the price of airport security services will fall. New security firms will enter the market because there currently is an economic profit available. As the new firms enter, the supply increases which leads to a fall in the price. 14a. The maple syrup market is an example of perfect competition because there are many firms selling identical maple syrup to many buyers, there are no restrictions on entry into or exit from the market, established producers have no advantage over new producers, and sellers and buyers are well informed about prices. 14b. Figure shows the market for maple syrup. The initial demand curve in 1980 is D0 and the initial supply curve is S0. The equilibrium price is $8 a half gallon can and the equilibrium quantity is 4 million gallons of maple syrup a year. Figure shows the situation for an individual producer. The firm s marginal revenue is MR and the firm produces 4,000 gallons of maple syrup a year. 14c. Technological change lower the firm s cost curves so that the firm earns an economic profit. The economic profit leads to entry by new firms so that the supply of maple syrup increases. In Figure 13.10, the supply curve shifts rightward from S0 to S1. Independently of the increase in supply, the
21 Chapter 13. Perfect Competition 343 demand also increased over the years so that in Figure 13.10, the demand curve shifts rightward from D0 to D1. (Demand as well as supply must increase because the quantity increases but the price does not change. If only the supply increased, the price would fall.) The equilibrium price in 2003 is $8 a half gallon can and the equilibrium quantity is 8 million gallons a year. The technological change has not lowered the cost curves in the long run because the maple syrup industry must be characterized by external diseconomies so that as new firms enter, the costs of the firms increase and the cost curves shift (back) upward. As a result, the marginal cost curve and average cost curve in 2003 are the same so that the firms are earning a normal profit and entry no longer occurs. Firms that did not adopt the new technology exited the market. 14d. The invention of a great tasting artificial syrup decreases the demand for maple syrup. The demand curve shifts leftward, as illustrated in Figure by the shift from D0 to D1. The equilibrium price falls to $4 a half gallon and the equilibrium quantity decreases to 6 million gallons a year. Figure shows the effect on an individual producer. The firm s marginal cost curve shifts downward from MR0 to MR1. This firm decreases its production from 4,000 gallons a year to 2,000 gallons a year. The firm incurs an economic loss because the price is less than average total cost. In the long run, the economic loss leads to some firms exiting the market. As firms exit, the supply of maple syrup decreases and the supply curve shifts leftward. The equilibrium price of maple syrup rises. Eventually enough
22 344 Part 5. PRICES, PROFITS, AND INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE firms exit so that the price rises to equal the firms average total cost. At this point, the firms earn a normal profit and exit ceases. 15. The markets your student choose likely are different than the markets discussed here. But the effects sketched here should be similar in your students answers. An example of a market that will expand is the market for DVDs. As more people own DVD players, the demand for DVDs increases. The firms producing DVDs earn an economic profit in the short run. But as time passes, more firms enter this market. The price of a DVD falls and in the long run, the firms producing DVDs earn a normal profit. An example of a market that will contract is the market for live attendance at sporting events because the quality of watching the events at home increases. The demand for attending a live sporting event decreases, especially second tier live sporting events. The price of a ticket to live sporting events falls and the firms producing live sporting events incur economic losses. As time passes, some of the firms exit the market and, in the long run, the remaining firms earn a normal profit.
23 Chapter 13. Perfect Competition 345 Web Exercises 16a. The wheat market is likely a perfectly competitive market because: many farms sell an identical product to many buyers, there are no restrictions on entry into (or exit from) the market, established farms have no advantage over new farms, and sellers and buyers are well informed about prices. 16b. The price of wheat shows an upward trend through 1996, and a downward trend through the remainder of the decade. 16c. The quantity fluctuated around a falling trend through 1994, then it increased through 1997, after which it decreased. 16d. The main influences on demand have been rising incomes and rising population. 16e. The main influences on supply have been advances in seed and fertilizer technology that have increased yields and the supply. The weather also has played a role and it has brought fluctuations in output. 16f. Before 1996, if anything, there might have been some entry because of rising prices. But, output was falling during these years, and so it is difficult to determine if there was any entry. Regardless, if there was entry or exit it was probably small. After 1997, with sharply falling prices and falling production, most likely exit has occurred.
24 346 Part 5. PRICES, PROFITS, AND INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE ADDITIONAL EXERCISES FOR ASSIGNMENT Questions CHECKPOINT 13.1 A Firm s Profit-Maximizing Choices 1. Roy is a potato farmer, and the world potato market is perfectly competitive. The market price is $25 a bag. Roy sells 40 bags a week, and his marginal cost is $20 a bag. 1a. Calculate Royʹs total revenue. 1b. Calculate Royʹs marginal revenue. 1c. Is Roy maximizing profit? Explain your answer. 1d. The price falls to $18 a bag, and Roy cuts his output to 25 bags a week. His average variable cost and marginal cost fall to $18 a bag. Is Roy maximizing profit? Is he making an economic profit or incurring an economic loss? 1e. What is one point on Roy s supply curve? CHECKPOINT 13.2 Output, Price, and Profit in the Short Run 2. Lisa s Lawn Company is a lawn mowing business in a perfectly competitive market for Quantity (lawns per hour) lawn mowing services. The table sets out Lisa s costs. If the market price is $30 a lawn: 2a. How many lawns an hour does Lisaʹs Lawn Company mow? 2b. What is Lisaʹs profit in the short run? 3. In Exercise 2, if the market price falls to $20 a lawn: 3a. How many lawns an hour does Lisaʹs Lawn Company mow? 3b. What is Lisaʹs profit in the short run? 4. In Exercise 2: 4a. At what market price will Lisa shut down? 4b. When Lisa shuts down, what will be her economic loss? CHECKPOINT 13.3 Output, Price, and Profit in the Long Run 5. Lisaʹs Lawn Company is a lawn mowing business in a perfectly competitive market for Quantity (lawns per hour) lawn mowing services. The table sets out Lisaʹs costs. 5a. If the market price is $30 a lawn, what is Lisa s economic profit? 5b. If the market price is $30 a lawn, do new firms enter or do existing firms exit the industry in the long run? Total cost (dollars per lawn) Total cost (dollars per lawn)
25 Chapter 13. Perfect Competition 347 5c. What is the price of the lawn service in the long run? 5d. What is Lisa s economic profit in the long run? 6. A catfish farmer is operating in a perfectly competitive market. The market price of catfish is $5 a pound and each farmer produces 1,000 pounds a week. The average total cost is $7 a pound. 6a. What is a catfish farmer s profit in the short run? 6b. What happens to the total number of farms in the long run? 6c. If technology reduces the cost of catfish farming while the demand for catfish increases, what happens to price in the long run? Answers CHECKPOINT 13.1 A Firm s Profit-Maximizing Choices 1a. Roy s total revenue equals the quantity multiplied by the price, which is 40 $25 = $1,000. 1b. Roy is a perfect competitor, so his marginal revenue equals his price. Roy s marginal revenue is $25 a bag. 1c. Roy is not maximizing profit because marginal cost, $20, is less than marginal revenue, $25. He should sell more bags until marginal cost rises to $25 because then his marginal cost equals his marginal revenue. 1d. If the price is $18, Roy s marginal revenue is $18. Roy is maximizing profit by selling 25 bags because the marginal cost of the 25th bag is $18. Roy is incurring an economic loss because price is less than average total cost. 1e. One point on Roy s supply curve is a price of $18 and a quantity of 25 bags. CHECKPOINT 13.2 Output, Price, and Profit in the Short Run 2a. If the market price is $30 a lawn, the marginal revenue is $30 a lawn. Lisa mows 5 lawns because the marginal cost of mowing the fifth lawn is $30. 2b. Average total cost equals total cost divided by output, so Lisa s average total cost is $130 5, which is $26 a lawn. The economic profit per lawn is the price minus the average total cost, which is $30 a lawn $26 a lawn = $4 a lawn. So Lisa s total profit is $4 a lawn 5 lawns, which is $20. 3a. If the market price is $20 a lawn, marginal revenue is $20 a lawn. Lisa mows 3 lawns because the marginal cost of mowing the third lawn is $20. 3b. Average total cost equals total cost divided by output, so Lisa s average total cost is $75 3, which is $25 a lawn. The economic profit per lawn is the price minus the average total cost, which is $20 a lawn $25 a lawn = $5 a lawn. Lisa incurs an economic loss of $5 a lawn. So her total economic loss is $5 loss per lawn 3 lawns, which is $15. 4a. Lisa s shutdown point is at $10 a lawn and 1 lawn mowed. Mowing 1 lawn has a marginal cost of $10, so when the price is $10, mowing 1 lawn sets marginal cost equal to marginal revenue. Lisa s total variable cost at this
26 348 Part 5. PRICES, PROFITS, AND INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE level of output is $10 because her total fixed cost is $30. (Her total fixed cost is her total cost when she mows zero lawns.) When Lisa mows 1 lawn, her average variable cost is $10 1, which is $10. Lisa s minimum average variable cost is $10, so when the price is $10, Lisa is at her shutdown point. 4b. When Lisa shuts down, her loss equals her total fixed cost, which is $30. CHECKPOINT 13.3 Output, Price, and Profit in the Long Run 5a. If the market price is $30, marginal revenue equals $30. Lisa mows 5 lawns because that is the quantity for which marginal cost equals marginal revenue. The average total cost of cutting a lawn when 5 are cut is $26 so Lisa earns an economic profit of $4 a lawn. She cuts 5 lawns so her total economic profit is $4 5 = $20. 5b. Because firms are earning an economic profit, new lawn mowing firms enter the market. 5c. In the long run, the price is $25, which is minimum of average total cost. 5d. In the long run, Lisa s economic profit is zero. 6a. Because the price is less than average total cost ($5 versus $7), each farmer incurs an economic loss of $2 a pound and a total economic loss of $2,000. 6b. Because some firms are incurring an economic loss, they exit the market. Supply decreases and the market price rises. In the long run, the number of farms decreases. 6c. New technology shifts the cost curves downward. This effect decreases the price in the long run because in the long run price equals the minimum average total cost.
27 Chapter 13. Perfect Competition 349 USING EYE ON THE U.S. ECONOMY Entry in Personal Computers, Exit in Farm Machines The story provides good examples of economic profit motivating firms to enter a market (personal computers) and economic loss motivating a firm to exit a market (farm machines). For both of the stories, you can draw short run and longrun scenarios. Use the PC market to discuss the transition from one firm (IBM) earning large economic profit in the short run to many firms eking out normal profits in the long run. You can note that the short run and IBM s economic profit lasted several years until the new firms could produce a reliable clone. And, with the entry of Dell, etc., eventually IBM essentially exited by selling its name to a Chinese firm with whom IBM has a co venture. The International Harvester portion of the article provides a good example of a firm exiting a market because of economic loss. As the structure of the agriculture industry changed (fewer family farms and more efficient, conglomerate farms), less equipment was needed. As a result, the demand for and the price of farm equipment decreased. The fall in price means firms incurred economic losses. While more firms than International Harvester were suffering losses, they chose not to exit. Navistar s decision allowed itself, and the surviving firms, the opportunity to earn a normal profit. USING EYE ON THE GLOBAL ECONOMY The North American Market in Maple Syrup The article highlights the perfectly competitive wholesale maple syrup market. You can use this story to show short run and long run profit scenarios graphically. Show how technology led to some firms exiting the market while other, larger firms decided to adopt the technology. Also show how the demand curve shifted rightward as demand increased.
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