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Flashcards in Microeconomics Deck (84):

What is the difference between microeconomics and macroeconomics?

Micro = study of individuals' and households' allocation of resources to maximize satisfaction

Macro = study of communities and aggregate entities' allocation of resources to maximize the common good


What are the different questions answered by different economic systems?

(1) what is produced
(2) how much is produced
(3) how goods are produced
(4) who uses production


What are the three general kinds of economic systems?

(1) capitalism = no gov't restrictions on individual activity; all "economic questions" answered by these free markets
(2) communism = gov't plans almost all economic activity with only limited individual input; all questions answered by gov't planning
(3) socialism = mixture of (1) and (2), with both private ownership and gov't intervention; questions answered by gov't planning and free markets


What is demand?

The measure of how much consumers, in aggregate, are willing and able to buy a given good at a given price


How are the price of a good and the quantity demanded related?



What is the cross elasticity of demand?

The sense in which the demand of various goods can affect the demand of other closely related goods

Can be substitutes (where goods' demand is inversely related) or complements (where it is directly related)


As regards the cross elasticity of demand, what are examples of substitutes and complements?

Substitutes: Pepsi and Coke; Toyota and Honda cars
Complements: toothbrush and toothpaste; cars and gasoline


What does it mean to say that substitute goods have a positive cross elasticity of demand?

It is positive, because the DEMAND for a good rises as the PRICE for substitute goods increases

Conversely, complementary goods have a negative cross elasticity of demand


What is the difference between normal goods and inferior goods?

As income increases, demand for normal goods increases, but demand for inferior goods decreases

As people have more money to spend, they do not want to settle for subpar (inferior) products


How do consumer expectations of changing prices affect demand?

If the price is expected to increase, then current demand increases, since customers will be less willing to buy it in the future than in the present

The converse is true for expectations of lower prices


What does a demand curve generally look like?

With price on the y-axis and quantity demanded on the x-axis, a demand curve is a line (or curve) with a negative slope


What is the difference between an increase in quantity demanded and an increase in demand itself?

The former is a movement along the demand curve; the latter is a movement OF the demand curve itself

With the line in one place, an increase in quantity demanded occurs only as the price decreases -- but an increase in demand itself (e.g. if the population's income rises) would push the entire line to the right


What are some examples of events that increase demand?

-a substitute good's price increase
-a complement's price decrease
-increase in consumer income (for normal goods, not inferior)
-expectation of increased price in future
-favorable change in consumer preference (e.g. from ads)
-increase in total number of consumers


What is supply?

The measure of how much producers, in aggregate, are willing and able to sell a given good at a given price


How are the price of a good and the quantity supplied related?



What does a supply curve generally look like?

With price on the y-axis and quantity supplied on the x-axis, a supply curve is a line (or curve) with a positive slope


What are some examples of events that increase supply?

-lower costs of productions (including lower taxes related to production)
-technological improvements
-expected price decreases in the future (future supply would thus be relatively lower)


What is economic rent?

An amount paid for a good beyond what the seller would have expected for it, given its scarcity or uniqueness

E.g. if a worker is willing to work for $17 per hour, given the quality he attributes to his labor, but actually gets paid $20 per hour since he belongs to a union, then the $3 per hour difference is his "economic rent"


What is elasticity?

The degree to which some market variable (e.g. demand) reacts to a change in something else (e.g. price)


What is the price elasticity of demand (Ed)?

The degree to which demand reacts to changes in price -- whether a lot (elastic) or not at all (inelastic)


What is the formula for price elasticity of demand?

Ed = % change in quantity demanded / % change in price

Ed = ΔQd /ΔP


How does the price elasticity of a good relate to its corresponding demand curve?

The slopes will be inverse -- the slope of the demand curve would be ΔP/ΔQd, whereas Ed = ΔQd/ΔP


What are different things that increase the price elasticity of demand?

-how superfluous/luxurious a good is, rather than necessary
-how many substitutes an item has
-how much income (as a percentage) is spent on it


How does price elasticity of demand relate to revenue received?

If a good has an elasticity of 1 (a "unitary elasticity"), then total revenue is not changed by price changes; the corresponding change in Qd is perfectly proportionate

If Ed > 1, it is elastic, so demand will respond more strongly to price changes; thus revenue would DECREASE with price increases and vice versa

If Ed < 1, it is inelastic, so demand will respond less strongly to price changes; thus revenue would INCREASE with price increases and vice versa


What is the price elasticity of supply (Es)?

The degree to which supply reacts to changes in price -- whether a lot (elastic) or not at all (inelastic)


What is the formula for price elasticity of supply?

Es = % change in quantity supplied / % change in price

Es = ΔQs /ΔP

As with demand, this would be the inverse slope of the corresponding supply curve


What is the formula for cross elasticity of demand?

Exy (where X and Y are both goods) = % change in X's quantity demanded / % change in Y's quantity demanded

Exy = ΔQdx /ΔQdy


What does a different elasticity coefficient (Exy) say about the relation of goods X and Y?

If Exy > 0, then X and Y are substitutes
If Exy = 0, then X and Y are unrelated
If Exy < 0, then X and Y are complements


What is income elasticity of demand (Ei)?

The degree to which the demand of a good reacts to changes in income

Ei = ΔQd / Δ income


What do different values for income elasticity of demand (Ei) indicate?

If Ei > 0, then the good is normal
If Ei < 0, then the good is inferior


What is the equilibrium price (Pe)?

The price at which the quantity demanded and quantity supplied are the same (where Qd = Qs), i.e. where the demand and supply curves intersect -- called the equilibrium quantity (Qe)

The equilibrium price is also called the market price, since this price naturally emerges in a free market


What are price floors and price ceilings?

Minimum and maximum prices, respectively, that governments can set to alter the course of a free market

Floors will tend to be ABOVE the equilibrium price, and ceilings BELOW


How do price floors and price ceilings affect market activity?

Ideally, without any price fixing, the equilibrium price (Pe) and equilibrium quantity (Qe) will naturally emerge, Qs and Qd being exactly the same

A price floor, however, sets the price above Pe, and thus leads to a higher Qs than Qd, leading to a surplus
-a price ceiling will do the opposite, leading to a shortage


What is the tragedy of the commons?

Common resources ("commons") can be depleted in the long run due to individuals' using that resource only for their self-interest

Often includes environmental issues, like air and water purity


What are externalities?

Someone who depletes common resources does not himself experience the brunt of the cost for its use; he at most pays a minimal cost as the entire cost of the resource's depletion is distributed over the whole society

Because the cost of depleted resource is thus "outside" individual users, these costs are called externalities


What is full-cost accounting?

Accounting that tries to move externalities, ordinarily placed upon the society, into the "internal" cost which individual users bear


If demand increases when supply does not, how is the market affected?

The equilibrium price increases and equilibrium quantity decreases
-vice versa if demand decreases without any change in supply


If supply increases when demand does not, how is the market affected?

The equilibrium price decreases and equilibrium quantity increases
-vice versa if supply decreases without any change in demand


If supply and demand both increase proportionately, how is the market affected?

The equilibrium quantity increases, though the equilibrium price stays about the same


If demand increases and supply decreases proportionately, how is the market affected?

The equilibrium price increases, though the equilibrium quantity stays about the same


What is utility theory?

The doctrine that an individual will use all his income to maximize utility -- that a consumer will use his money a particular way (e.g. buying good X) until the marginal utility (e.g. using more dollars to buy more X) would not be as great as spending it a different way


For utility theory, what is the utility maximization theory?

Utility has been maximized when A's marginal utility / A's price = B's marginal utility / B's price


What are different ways to measure utility?

Cardinal = giving numeric values to the benefits a good gives

Ordinal = giving a rank to the benefits that different goods give


What is the principle of diminishing marginal utility?

Each additional increment of consumption for a good provides less utility than before

E.g. the tenth slice of pizza is less pleasing than the first


What is an indifference curve?

A graph that shows how two goods would benefit (give utility to) a given consumer

Each axis measures the quantity of a good, and so any given curve thus shows the combinations of quantities that end up giving the same total utility to the customer -- e.g. a customer might be equally satisfied with 12 eggs and a gallon of milk as he would be with 32 eggs and a 1/2 gallon of milk

Because the curve shows the different quantity-combinations at which the customer would receive equal utility, the customer would thus be INDIFFERENT to those different combinations -- any of them would equally please him


Can there be multiple indifference curves on a single map?

Yes, indifference curves show what combinations of quantities of two goods would give a consumer a particular level of utility; therefore there can be various indifference curves for different levels of utility given

An indifference curve for a higher level of utility will naturally be to the right of an indifference curve for a lower level of utility, since the consumer will marginally desire more quantities of those goods to give him that higher utility


What is a graph called if it has multiple indifference curves?

An indifference map


What shape are indifference curves?

Indifference curves are sloped negatively and convex (i.e. bulging towards the origin of the graph)


Why are indifference curves sloped negatively?

Because the same level of utility can be provided by two goods only if one quantity is increasing and the other is decreasing; a consumer would not get the same utility from two goods if he decreased the quantities of both of them


Why are indifference curves convex?

Because (1) consumers have diminishing returns and (2) consumers value variety
-(1) causes the overall utility provided by an increase in quantity to be less and less
-(2) means that consumers will require a greater increase in the quantity of X in order to part with a given quantity of Y -- e.g. if a man can choose from chips and cola, then he will be willing to part with one cola to get a bag of chips, but would be less willing to part with all his colas if he only got one bag of chips per cola; he would want more to compensate for his loss of variety


Can indifference curves intersect?

No -- since the different curves represent different levels of utility (satisfaction) acquired from varying quantities of two goods, and since no consumer will receive the same level of utility from an increase (or decrease) in the quantity of both goods, then the curves necessarily cannot intersect


How do budget constraints relate to indifference curves?

Budget constraints can establish what quantities of goods a consumer can purchase, and thus, when superimposed on an indifference map, can show the maximum amount of utility a consumer could receive with his income

The slope of the budget constraint depends on the prices of the goods in question


Regarding factors of production, what is the difference between the short run and the long run?

In the long run, by definition, all factors (inputs) are variable, since the business can choose to change them -- so the short run involves the time period during which at least one factor is fixed


What are variable costs, fixed costs, and total costs?

Variable = change with the level of output
Fixed = do not change with the level of output (only applicable to the short run)
Total = sum of variable and fixed


What is the difference between explicit and implicit costs?

Explicit costs are actual expenditures made (thus also called historical costs)

Implicit costs include the opportunity cost foregone by using resources a certain way rather than another way (e.g. by renting land out rather than building a factory on it)


What is the difference between economic and accounting profit/loss?

Accounting profit is the book revenue minus the book costs -- what people ordinarily refer to as "profit"

But economic profit subtracts not only the book costs (the actual expenditures), but also the opportunity cost -- what revenues someone could have obtained if he had done the next-best option


What is the purpose of calculating economic profit or loss?

Since economic profit also subtracts the revenues received from the next-best option, a positive economic profit thus means that one has selected the most rational alternative available

A negative economic profit would mean that one has not selected the best alternative, whereas an economic profit of zero would mean that one has selected an alternative that is no better than the next-best one


What is an example of calculating economic profit?

A restaurant owner has revenues of $750k and costs of $650k --> accounting profit of $100k

The owner could have been a lawyer and made $150k in the year -- thus his economic profit (loss) was $100k - $150k = ($50k)

This negative number means that it does not make sense (economically) for him to be a restaurant owner; it would be more economically rational for him to be a lawyer instead


What are marginal revenue (MR), marginal cost (MC), and marginal profit?

The revenue earned, cost incurred, and profit earned by increasing the output by one unit


What are marginal product (MP) and marginal revenue product (MRP)?

Marginal product (MP) = additional output gained by increasing input by one unit

Marginal revenue product (MRP) = marginal revenue (MR) x marginal product (MP)


As applied to marginal product, what is the principle of diminishing returns?

Further inputs will not always steadily increase outputs, but at some point will help less and less, and may at another point even decrease output


What is an average cost curve?

A graph depicting the relation of the units of output (x-axis) and the cost per unit (y-axis)

The graph sees how the (average) unit cost changes as the levels of output change


What is the shape of an average cost curve?

It is U-shaped, and can generally be divided into three sections, moving horizontally:
-the left side, where unit cost decreases as output increases
-the middle, where the decrease in unit cost reaches a trough and then begins to increase
-the right, where unit cost more rapidly increases as output increases


What do the three different parts of an average cost curve represent?

Since the left side shows unit costs decreasing as output increases, it represents increasing returns to scale (i.e. economies of scale)
-the middle represents constant returns to scale
-the right represents decreasing returns to scale (i.e. diseconomies of scale)


How does the average cost curve relate to the marginal cost curve?

They are best understood if superimposed: a marginal cost curve always intersects the avg. cost curve at its lowest point (in the U), is below the avg. cost curve before this point, and is above the avg. cost curve after this point

Thus when there are increasing returns to scale, the marginal cost is below avg. cost, but not when there are decreasing returns to scale


What are the characteristics of a purely competitive market?

The only factor distinguishing competitors is PRICE (not advertising, a unique product, etc.). Further a purely competitive market has:
-many buyers and sellers acting independently
-a homogeneous product
-free entry into and exits from the market
-"perfect information": all buyers and sellers are fully aware of all relevant info


How do economic profits occur in purely competitive markets?

If economic profits are available in a purely competitive market, more firms will naturally enter, drive the price down, and reduce economic profits to zero

Similarly, if an economic loss exists in such a market, more firms will naturally exit, the price will rice, and the economic losses will dwindle to zero


What are the characteristics of a pure monopoly?

-one seller
-good is unique; has no substitutes
-other firms cannot enter
-perfect information
-price controls
-good-faith advertising


What is a natural monopoly?

A case where technological or economic conditions permit only one supplier to efficiently exist

E.g. for electric companies, the cost of infrastructure is so great that it would be extremely inefficient to have more than one competing in a given region


What is the Sherman Act?

1890 act that forbids restraints on interstate and international trade, including:
-resale restrictions
-agreements to divide markets
-price fixing


What is the Clayton Act?

1914 act that
-forbids mergers of stock which unduly restrict competition
-forbids price discrimination
-forbids people from being directors for two competing corporations


What is the Robinson-Patman Act?

1936 act that forbids discounts which aren't based on cost differences for large purchasers


What is the Celler-Kefauver Anti-Merger Act?

1950 act that forbids mergers of assets which unduly restrict competition


How does monopolistic competition differ from a pure monopoly?

Monopolistic competition offers a large number of sellers whose products are not uniform, but differentiated by substantial nonprice competition
-also involves easy entry into and exit from markets and sometimes price controls

In many ways monopolistic competition is closer to pure competition than to a monopoly


What are the characteristics of an oligopoly?

-very few sellers, though more than one
-high barriers to entry -- whether natural (e.g. high cost) or created (e.g. brand recognition)
-products can be differentiated or uniform
-high awareness of competitors' actions


How is price leadership significant for oligopolies?

Because competitors are very aware of each other in oligopolies, they will be very inclined to match price reductions


How do cartels relate to oligopolies?

Cartels are oligopolies which collude to fix prices

This is illegal in the U.S. but not everywhere (e.g. OPEC is a famous cartel)


What is a situation in which a firm will always (to be rational) cease production?

If the market price is less than the average variable cost


What are some arguments against companies that naturally monopolize a market?

(1) such market power can lead to unfair pricing practices
(2) little innovation to improve product, because there's no one else from whom to differentiate it


What are some arguments for companies that naturally monopolize a market?

(1) their resources are then freed up to be risked in R&D, developing the product more for customers' benefit
(2) economies of scale can aid customers


What are two different kinds of ways to measure how monopolistic a company is?

(1) performance measures = profit, market performance, efficiency, technological growth
(2) market structure = number of competitors, strength/size of competitors, barriers to entry, product differentiation


What is the concentration ratio for a market?

The percentage of a market's output provided by its four largest firms

Relates to measuring how monopolistic a market is


What are various examples of how the government can support monopolistic activities/restrict competition?

(1) intellectual property (patents, trademarks, etc.)
(2) price ceilings (e.g. with utilities)
(3) costs to comply with regulations (effectively a fixed tax)
(4) licensing


What are three different kinds of mergers?

(1) vertical = along a supply chain
(2) horizontal = between competitors on the same level
(3) conglomerate = between firms in unrelated markets