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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Calculate profits by comparing total revenue and total cost
  • Identify profits and losses with the average cost curve
  • Explain the shutdown point
  • Determine the price at which a firm should continue producing in the short run

A perfectly competitive firm has only one major decision to make—namely, what quantity to produce. To understand why this is so, consider a different way of writing out the basic definition of profit :

Profit = Total revenue Total cost           = ( Price ) ( Quantity produced ) ( Average cost ) ( Quantity produced )

Since a perfectly competitive firm must accept the price for its output as determined by the product’s market demand and supply, it cannot choose the price it charges. This is already determined in the profit equation, and so the perfectly competitive firm can sell any number of units at exactly the same price. It implies that the firm faces a perfectly elastic demand curve for its product: buyers are willing to buy any number of units of output from the firm at the market price. When the perfectly competitive firm chooses what quantity to produce, then this quantity—along with the prices prevailing in the market for output and inputs—will determine the firm’s total revenue, total costs, and ultimately, level of profits.

Determining the highest profit by comparing total revenue and total cost

A perfectly competitive firm can sell as large a quantity as it wishes, as long as it accepts the prevailing market price. Total revenue is going to increase as the firm sells more, depending on the price of the product and the number of units sold. If you increase the number of units sold at a given price, then total revenue will increase. If the price of the product increases for every unit sold, then total revenue also increases. As an example of how a perfectly competitive firm decides what quantity to produce, consider the case of a small farmer who produces raspberries and sells them frozen for $4 per pack. Sales of one pack of raspberries will bring in $4, two packs will be $8, three packs will be $12, and so on. If, for example, the price of frozen raspberries doubles to $8 per pack, then sales of one pack of raspberries will be $8, two packs will be $16, three packs will be $24, and so on.

Total revenue and total costs for the raspberry farm, broken down into fixed and variable costs, are shown in [link] and also appear in [link] . The horizontal axis shows the quantity of frozen raspberries produced in packs; the vertical axis shows both total revenue and total costs, measured in dollars. The total cost curve intersects with the vertical axis at a value that shows the level of fixed costs, and then slopes upward. All these cost curves follow the same characteristics as the curves covered in the Cost and Industry Structure chapter.

Total cost and total revenue at the raspberry farm

The graph shows that firms will incur a loss if the total cost is higher than the total revenue.
Total revenue for a perfectly competitive firm is a straight line sloping up. The slope is equal to the price of the good. Total cost also slopes up, but with some curvature. At higher levels of output, total cost begins to slope upward more steeply because of diminishing marginal returns. The maximum profit will occur at the quantity where the gap of total revenue over total cost is largest.

Questions & Answers

marginal cost formula
Nandu Reply
you should differentiate the total cost function in order to get marginal cost function then you can get marginal cost from it
boniphace
formula of cross elasticity of demand
Theresia Reply
what is ceteris paribus
Priyanka Reply
what is ceteris parabus
Priyanka
Ceteris paribus - Literally, "other things being equal"; usually used in economics to indicate that all variables except the ones specified are assumed not to change.
Abdullah
What is broker
scor
land is natural resources that is made by nature
scor
What is broker
scor
what is land
kafui
What is broker
scor
land is natural resources that is made by nature
scor
whats poppina nigga turn it up for a minute get it
amarsyaheed Reply
what is this?
Philo
am from nigeria@ pilo
Frank
am from nigeria@ pilo
Frank
so
owusu
what is production possibility frontier
owusu
it's a summary of opportunity cost depicted on a curve.
okhiria
please help me solve this question with the aid of appropriate diagrams explain how each of the following changes will affect the market price and quantity of bread 1. A
Manuela Reply
please l need past question about economics
Prosper Reply
ok let me know some of the questions please.
Effah
ok am not wit some if den nw buh by tommorow I shall get Dem
adepojurafiu
Hi guys can I get Adam Smith's WEALTH OF NATIONS fo sale?
Ukpen
hello I'm Babaisa alhaji Mustapha. I'm studying Economics in the university of Maiduguri
Babaisa
okay
Humaira
my name is faisal Yahaya. i studied economics at Kaduna state university before proceeding to West African union university benin republic for masters
Faisal
Hi guys..I am from Bangladesh..
Mannan
Wat d meaning of management
igwe Reply
disaster management cycle
Gogul Reply
cooperate social responsibility
igwe
Fedric Wilson Taylor also define management as the act of knowing what to do and seeing that it is done in the best and cheapest way
OLANIYI
difference between microeconomics and macroeconomic
Ugyen Reply
microeconomics is the study of individual units, firm and government while macroeconomics is the study of the economic aggregates.
okhiria
The classical theory of full employment
Lovely
what is monopoli power
Adzaho Reply
the situation that prevails when economic forces balance so that economic variables neither increase nor decrease
Bombey
what is equilibrium
Kabir
what are the important of economic to accounting students with references
salihu Reply
Economics is important because it helps people understand how a variety of factors work with and against each other to control how resources such as labor and capital get used, and how inflation, supply, demand, interest rates and other factors determine how much you pay for goods and services.
Muhammad
explain the steps taken by the government in developing rural market?
Azeem Reply
government provide good road for than
Abigailb
government should provide good agricultural project and it should also provide good road so that the the product that will come out of the farm will be easy transport to the market
ALIMAMY
farming equipments should be provided to farmers to help them improve in farming
Agbor
improving the transport systems providing enterpreneur edecation to the mass living in rural zones enforcment of loans and capital for the people rising awareness on the advantages of rural areas
abdul
contribution of Adam smith in economics
abel Reply
I will join
Dexter
I will join
Patrick
Hey
Fatima
Hey
Amir
Hello
AS
hey
Umarou
I love this book and i need extra Economic book
Amir
Hey
Amir
what's happening here
AS
I love this book and i need extra Economic book
Amir
what is the meaning of function in economics
Effah Reply
Pls, I need more explanation on price Elasticity of Supply
Isaac Reply
Is the degree to the degree of responsiveness of a change in quantity supplied of goods to a change in price
Afran
what is production
Humaira
Okay what is land mobile and land unmobile
scor
And what are the resources in land
scor
the proces of using the services of labor and equipmnt together with other in puts to make goods and services availble
Bombey
Okay what is land mobile and land unmobile
scor

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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