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Production Possibility Frontier. The Production Possibilities Frontier. Let’s introduce the Production Possibilities Frontier better known as the PPF. The PPF is a basic workhorse in economics. Important for understanding some basic issues in economics. The PPF.

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the production possibilities frontier
The Production Possibilities Frontier
  • Let’s introduce the Production Possibilities Frontier
    • better known as the PPF.
  • The PPF is a basic workhorse in economics.
  • Important for understanding some basic issues in economics.
the ppf
The PPF
  • Great application is with international trade theory.
  • Helps one understand and distinguish between comparative advantage and absolute advantage.
  • An important historical figure in all this is David Ricardo.
david ricardo
David Ricardo
  • Famous 19th century British economist.
  • Some consider him the grandfather of international trade theory.
  • Very influential in pioneering the theory of comparative advantage, inter alia.
  • Very interesting, very bright guy.
  • Had a lot of say about the “corn laws” in England.
the production possibility frontier what is it
The Production Possibility Frontier - What Is It?
  • The description of the best possible combinations of two goods to produce using all of the available resources.
  • Shows the trade-off between more of one good in terms of the other.
  • Assumes: input endowments given, technology given, time given and efficient production.
opportunity cost
Opportunity Cost
  • The opportunity cost of an activity is the value of the resources used in that activity when they are measured by what they would have produced when used in their next best alternative.
  • The slope of the Production Possibility Frontier measures the marginal opportunity cost of producing one good in terms of the amount of the other good foregone.
a typical ppf picture
A Typical PPF Picture

The marginal opportunity cost of guns in terms of butter is increasing as we move down the PPF!

The PPF is typically bowed-out or linear.

It is not bowed-in

Butter

unattainable

just attainable

inefficient

just attainable

Guns

comparative advantage
Comparative Advantage
  • The person with the lower marginal opportunity cost of an activity has the comparative advantage at that activity.
  • This means that the person with the comparative advantage can produce the activity by giving up the smallest amount of the alternative activity.
the idea of comparative advantage and trade
The Idea of Comparative Advantage and Trade
  • Specialization and free trade will benefit all trading parties, even when some are “absolutely” more efficient producers than others.
  • Need to understand absolute vs. comparative advantage.
absolute vs comparative advantage applied to trade
Absolute vs. Comparative Advantage Applied to Trade
  • Absolute advantage: if your country uses fewer resources to produce a given unit of output than the other country.
  • Comparative advantage: if your country can produce the output at a lower marginal cost in terms of other goods foregone than the other country.
  • Every country (or person, or economy) has a comparative advantage at some activity.
  • Absolute advantage is not important and may not always happen. Sometimes people or countries have the absolute advantage in nothing! Yet trade possibilities still exist.
  • It’s all about comparative advantage.
ppfs and comparative advantage
PPFs and Comparative Advantage
  • In this example, there are two goods being produced: Corn meal and RAM.
  • Juanita has an absolute advantage at both: she can produce more of each than Julio.
  • Juanita has a comparative advantage at producing RAM compared to Julio: she gives up 3.00 kg/day of corn meal to make an additional 1k of chips.
  • Julio has a comparative advantage at producing corn meal compared to Juanita: he gives up 0.25 k chips to make an additional kg of corn meal.
production possibilities
Production Possibilities
  • When we draw the production possibilities for Juanita and Julio, there is a kink at 8 kg/day corn meal and 4.00 k chips/day RAM.
  • The chart shows who specializes in corn meal and RAM at each production level.
adding a third producer
Adding a Third Producer
  • Sergio has no absolute advantage; however, he has a comparative advantage over both Juanita and Julio in the production of RAM.
  • He sacrifices 2.00 kg of corn meal to make an additional 1k of chips.
adding a fourth producer
Adding a Fourth Producer
  • Question: What is Maria’s comparative advantage with respect to each of the other three producers?
comparative advantage and specialization
Comparative Advantage and Specialization
  • As more and more producers enter the economy, the production possibility curve gets more and more bowed out (concave).
  • Along any segment, most of the producers are fully specialized.
  • Only one producer is producing both goods along any segment.
the supply curve from the ppf
The Supply Curve from the PPF
  • At each relative price of RAM in terms of foregone corn meal, we can determine the market supply
  • The table shows how much is supplied and who is producing.
the supply curve for ram
The Supply Curve for RAM

Maria

Julio

Juanita

Sergio

  • The graph shows the supply curve for RAM based on the data in the previous table. Each additional supplier is shown above the segment where that supplier determines the relative price.
  • The supply curve of RAM is rising, reflecting the increasing opportunity cost (also called marginal cost) of RAM in terms of foregone corn meal.
supply curve for corn meal
Supply Curve for Corn Meal
  • Do the exact same thing...
  • But in reverse!
supply curve for corn meal graph
Supply Curve for Corn Meal: Graph
  • The supply curve for corn meal is shown above.
  • The new producer along each segment is indicated above.

Sergio

Juanita

Julio

Maria

international trade
International Trade
  • All the facts are the same as in the previous example except that now we are talking about countries that can trade at an international price.
  • The international price is between the relative prices that prevail in each country when no trade is permitted.
  • There are many countries in the market in addition to the two shown so that a country can buy or sell as much as it wants or produces at the international price.
country u s production and gains from trade
Country U’s Production and Gains from Trade
  • Country U has a comparative advantage in RAM production.
  • The blue line shows its production possibilities without trade. Slope = –0.33.
  • The red line shows the possibilities at the international price of 0.29 k chips per kg corn (or 3.50 kg corn/ k chips RAM). Slope = –0.29.
  • The gain to trade is the distance between the two production possibility curves.
country m s production and gains from trade
Country M’s Production and Gains from Trade
  • Country M has a comparative advantage in corn meal production.
  • The blue line shows its production possibilities without trade. Slope = –0.25.
  • The red line shows the possibilities at the international price of 0.29 k chips/ kg corn (or 3.50 kg corn/ k chips RAM). Slope = –0.29.
  • The gain to trade is the distance between the two production possibility curves.
question
Question
  • If country U chooses to consume 7 kg/day of corn meal, what is the gain to trade from specializing in RAM production, measured in k chips/day of RAM?
answer
Answer
  • The vertical distance between the blue and red PPFs at a corn meal consumption of 7 kg/day measures country U’s gain to trade in k chips RAM/day.
  • The point on the blue PPF is the best country U can do without trade.
  • With trade country U can consume more RAM per day, up to the point on the red PPF.
question1
Question
  • What is country M’s gain if it chooses to consume 1.5 k chips per day, measured in kg/day of corn meal?
answer1
Answer
  • The horizontal distance between the red and blue PPFs measures country M’s gain to trade at a RAM consumption of 1.5 k chips/day.
  • The blue PPF is the best that country M can do without trade.
  • Trade allows country M to specialize in the production of corn meal and still benefit from a higher consumption of RAM.
the international supply curve for ram

Relative Price (kg corn meal/k chips)

Least Efficient Producers

Most Efficient Producers

RAM (K chips/day)

The International Supply Curve for RAM
  • The international supply curve for RAM is a rising function of the opportunity cost of RAM in terms of foregone corn meal.
  • Which countries actually produce RAM for the international market will depend upon where the demand curve crosses this supply curve.

Demand

the sources of comparative advantage
The Sources ofComparative Advantage
  • The Heckscher-Ohlin Theorem is a theory that explains the existence of a country’s comparative advantage by its factor endowments.
    • Factor endowments: the quantity and quality of labor, land, and natural resources of a country.
    • From Sweden in the early 1900s
  • According to the H-O theorem, a country has a comparative advantage in the production of a product if that country is relatively well endowed with inputs used intensively in the production of that product.
the sources of comparative advantage1
The Sources ofComparative Advantage
  • Edward Leamer of UCLA’s five biggies:
    • Natural resources
    • Knowledge capital
    • Physical capital
    • Land
    • Skilled and unskilled labor
other explanations for observed trade flows
Other Explanations forObserved Trade Flows
  • Product differentiation and competitive markets
  • Acquired comparative advantage
  • Natural comparative advantages
  • Economies of scale
  • Trading Environments
  • Openness of Economy
note of caution
Note of Caution
  • Information on comparative advantage is often given in many other forms - pay careful attention to the information you are given.
  • Two more ways to present the same kind of information:
absolute advantage and comparative advantage
Absolute Advantage and Comparative Advantage
  • Portugal has the A.A. in both wine and cloth.
  • England has the C.A. in cloth.
  • Portugal has the C.A. in wine.
  • Can you figure out the marginal opportunity cost for each output in each country?
from opportunity cost to marginal cost
From Opportunity Cost to Marginal Cost
  • The concept of marginal cost is the most important concept in the theory of producer supply behavior.
  • Marginal cost is the additional cost associated with increasing production by one unit.
  • In our production possibility examples, marginal cost is the value of the activity that is reduced when the other activity is increased by one unit.
  • Marginal cost is, therefore, the same thing as marginal opportunity cost.
ppf gymnastics
PPF Gymnastics
  • The PPF is also useful for many other types of questions.
  • Questions about efficiency.
  • Questions about equity.
  • Questions about tax and transfer policy.
  • Questions about composition of output.
  • Questions about growth and productivity.

Butter

PPF new

PPF old

Guns

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