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2. THE ECONOMIC PROBLEM. CHAPTER. Dr. Gomis-Porqueras ECO 680. Production Possibilities and Opportunity Cost. The production possibilities frontier ( PPF ) is the boundary between those combinations of goods and services that can be produced and those that cannot.

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2

THE ECONOMIC PROBLEM

CHAPTER

Dr. Gomis-Porqueras

ECO 680

production possibilities and opportunity cost
Production Possibilities and Opportunity Cost
  • The production possibilities frontier (PPF) is the boundary between those combinations of goods and services that can be produced and those that cannot.
  • To illustrate the PPF, we focus on two goods at a time and hold the quantities of all other goods and services constant.
  • That is, we consider a model economy in which everything remains the same except the two goods we’re considering.
production possibilities and opportunity cost1
Production Possibilities and Opportunity Cost
  • Production Possibilities Frontier
    • Figure shows the PPF for CDs and pizza, which stand for any pair of goods and services.
production possibilities and opportunity cost2
Production Possibilities and Opportunity Cost
  • Points inside and on the frontier, such as points A, B, C, D, E, F, and Z are attainable.
  • Points outside the frontier are unattainable.
production possibilities and opportunity cost3
Production Possibilities and Opportunity Cost
  • Production Efficiency
    • We achieve production efficiency if we cannot produce more of one good without producing less of some other good.
    • Points on the frontier are efficient.
production possibilities and opportunity cost4
Production Possibilities and Opportunity Cost
  • Tradeoff Along the PPF
    • Every choice along the PPF involves a tradeoff.
    • On this PPF, we must give up some CDs to get more pizza or give up some pizza to get more CDs.
production possibilities and opportunity cost5
Production Possibilities and Opportunity Cost
  • Opportunity Cost
    • The PPF makes the concept of opportunity cost precise.
    • If we move along the PPF from C to D the opportunity cost of the increase in pizza is the decrease in CDs.
production possibilities and opportunity cost6
Production Possibilities and Opportunity Cost
  • A move from C to D, increases pizza production by 1 million.
  • CD production decreases from 12 million to 9 million, a decrease of 3 million.
  • The opportunity cost of 1 million pizza is 3 million CDs. Thus one pizza costs 3 CDs.
  • One CD costs 1/3 of a pizza.
production possibilities and opportunity cost7
Production Possibilities and Opportunity Cost
  • Because resources are not all equally productive in all activities, the PPF bows outward.
  • The outward bow of the PPF means that as the quantity produced of each good increases, so does its opportunity cost.
using resources efficiently
Using Resources Efficiently
  • Figure 2.2 illustrates the marginal cost of pizza.
  • As we move along the PPF in part a (shown here) the opportunity cost and the marginal cost of pizza increases.
using resources efficiently1
Using Resources Efficiently
  • In part b (shown here) the blocks illustrate the increasing opportunity cost of pizza.
  • The black dots,
  • and the line labeled MC
  • show the marginal cost of pizza.
using resources efficiently2
Using Resources Efficiently
  • Preferences and Marginal Benefit
    • Preferences are a description of a person’s likes and dislikes.
    • To describe preferences, economists use the concepts of marginal benefit and the marginal benefit curve.
    • The marginal benefit of a good or service is the benefit received from consuming one more unit of it.
    • We measure marginal benefit by the amount that a person is willing to pay for an additional unit of a good or service.
using resources efficiently3
Using Resources Efficiently
  • It is a general principle that the more we have of any good or service, the smaller is its marginal benefit and the less we are willing to pay for an additional unit of it.
  • We call this general principle the principle of decreasing marginal benefit.
  • The marginal benefit curve shows the relationship between the marginal benefit of a good and the quantity of that good consumed.
using resources efficiently4
Using Resources Efficiently
  • Figure 2.3 shows a marginal benefit curve.
  • The curve slopes downward to reflect the principle of decreasing marginal benefit.
  • At point A, with pizza production at 0.5 million, people are willing to pay 5 CDs per pizza.
using resources efficiently5
Using Resources Efficiently
  • At point B, with pizza production at 1.5 million, people are willing to pay 4 CDs per pizza.
  • At point E, with pizza production at 4.5 million, people are willing to pay 1 CD per pizza.
using resources efficiently6
Using Resources Efficiently
  • Efficient Use of Resources
    • When we cannot produce more of any one good without giving up some other good, we have achieved production efficiency, and we are producing at a point on the PPF.
    • When we cannot produce more of any one good without giving up some other good that we value more highly, we have achieved allocative efficiency, and we are producing at the point on the PPF that we prefer above all other points.
using resources efficiently7
Using Resources Efficiently
  • Figure 2.4 illustrates allocative efficiency.
  • The point of allocative efficiency is the point on the PPF at which marginal benefit equals marginal cost.
  • This point is determined by the quantity at which the marginal benefit curve intersects the marginal cost curve.
using resources efficiently8
Using Resources Efficiently
  • If we produce less than 2.5 million pizza, marginal benefit exceeds marginal cost.
  • We get more value from our resources by producing more pizza.
  • On the PPF at point A, we are producing too many CDs, and we are better off moving along the PPF to produce more pizza.
using resources efficiently9
Using Resources Efficiently
  • If we produce more than 2.5 million pizza, marginal cost exceeds marginal benefit.
  • We get more value from our resources by producing less pizza.
  • On the PPF at point C, we are producing too much pizza, and we are better off moving along the PPF to produce less pizza.
using resources efficiently10
Using Resources Efficiently
  • If we produce exactly 2.5 million pizza, marginal cost equals marginal benefit.
  • We cannot get more value from our resources.
  • On the PPF at point B, we are producing the efficient quantities of CDs and pizza.
gains from trade
Gains From Trade
  • Comparative Advantage
    • A person has a comparative advantage in an activity if that person can perform the activity at a lower opportunity cost than anyone else.
gains from trade1
Gains From Trade
  • Figure 2.7 shows Tom’s PPF for discs and cases.
  • Tom can produce 1,000 discs and 1,000 cases at point A.
  • Along his PPF, Tom’s opportunity cost of a disc is 1/3 of a case and his opportunity cost of a case is 3 discs.
gains from trade2
Gains From Trade
  • Figure 2.8 shows Nancy’s PPF for discs and cases.
  • Nancy can produce 1,000 discs and 1,000 cases at point A.
  • Along her PPF, Nancy’s opportunity cost of a disc is 3 cases and her opportunity cost of a case is 1/3 of a disc.
gains from trade3
Gains From Trade
  • If Tom and Nancy produce discs and cases independently, they can produce 1,000 CD million each (2,000 total).
  • But because Tom’s opportunity cost of producing discs is less than Nancy’s, he has a comparative advantage in disc production.
  • And because Nancy’s opportunity cost of cases is less than Tom’s, she has a comparative advantage at producing cases.
  • Tom and Nancy can gain from trade.
gains from trade4
Gains From Trade
  • Achieving the Gains from Trade
    • Figure 2.9 shows what happens if Tom and Nancy specialize in what they do best and trade with each other.
    • Tom moves along his PPF and produces 4,000 discs at point B.
gains from trade5
Gains From Trade
  • Nancy moves along her PPF and produces 4,000 cases at point B\'.
  • Tom and Nancy are now producing 4,000 CD million—double what they can achieve without specialization.
  • They can now trade discs for cases.
gains from trade6
Gains From Trade
  • If Tom and Nancy exchange cases and discs at one case per disc (one disc per case) they exchange along the Trade line.
  • Tom and Nancy end up at point C with 2,000 CD million each—double what he can achieve without specialization and trade.
gains from trade7
Gains From Trade
    • Nations can gain from specialization and trade, just like Tom and Nancy can.
  • Absolute Advantage
    • A person (or nation) has an absolute advantage if that person (or nation) can produce more goods with a given amount of resources than another person (or nation) can.
    • Because the gains from trade arise from comparative advantage, people can gain from trade if they also have an absolute advantage.
should tiger woods mow his own lawn
Should Tiger Woods Mow His Own Lawn?
  • 1. Given Wood’s athleticism, it is entirely possible that he could mow his lawn faster than most men.
  • 2.This implies that he has an absolute advantage. 
  • 3. However, if the opportunity cost of his time is $10,000 (his pay to film a commercial for Nike), it is likely that someone else will have a comparative advantage in mowing his lawn.
  • 4. Both he and the person hired will be better off as long as he pays the individual more than the individual’s opportunity cost and less than $10,000.
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Example of Real-world Trade-offs

Trade-offs and Tsunami Relief

More funds for tsunami relief meant less funds for other charities.

How should we allocate these resources?

trade in the world
Trade in the World
  • The reality is that trade has been around as long as civilization itself.
  • Trade was already ancient when Phoenician merchants began their daring voyages through the Mediterranean in the second millennium BC. NAFTA and the European Union are just recent examples.
  • Countries differ widely in their climate, fertility, and the skills of their populations. Thus potential for specialization and trade naturally arises.
the market economy
The Market Economy
    • Trade is organized using two key social institutions:
    • Property rights
    • Markets
  • Property Rights
    • Property rights are the social arrangements that govern ownership, use, and disposal of resources, goods or services.
  • Markets
    • A market is any arrangement that enables buyers and sellers to get information and do business with each other.
the market economy1
The Market Economy
  • Market Participants
    • In a given market there are always buyers, typically households and governments, and sellers, typically firms.
    • We assume:
    • Rational expectations: Agents take into account all information available to them when making their decisions.
    • Markets clear: Prices adjust to equate demand and supply in each market.
    • The economic environment is always changing
my particular view of the economy
My Particular View of the Economy
  • Economics and Soccer
  • Players:
  • Objective:
  • Rules:
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