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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Explain how entry and exit lead to zero profits in the long run
  • Discuss the long-run adjustment process

The line between the short run and the long run cannot be defined precisely with a stopwatch, or even with a calendar. It varies according to the specific business. The distinction between the short run and the long run is therefore more technical: in the short run, firms cannot change the usage of fixed inputs, while in the long run, the firm can adjust all factors of production.

In a competitive market, profits are a red cape that incites businesses to charge. If a business is making a profit in the short run, it has an incentive to expand existing factories or to build new ones. New firms may start production, as well. When new firms enter the industry in response to increased industry profits it is called entry    .

Losses are the black thundercloud that causes businesses to flee. If a business is making losses in the short run, it will either keep limping along or just shut down, depending on whether its revenues are covering its variable costs. But in the long run, firms that are facing losses will shut down at least some of their output, and some firms will cease production altogether. The long-run process of reducing production in response to a sustained pattern of losses is called exit    . The following Clear It Up feature discusses where some of these losses might come from, and the reasons why some firms go out of business.

Why do firms cease to exist?

Can we say anything about what causes a firm to exit an industry? Profits are the measurement that determines whether a business stays operating or not. Individuals start businesses with the purpose of making profits. They invest their money, time, effort, and many other resources to produce and sell something that they hope will give them something in return. Unfortunately, not all businesses are successful, and many new startups soon realize that their “business adventure” must eventually end.

In the model of perfectly competitive firms, those that consistently cannot make money will “exit,” which is a nice, bloodless word for a more painful process. When a business fails, after all, workers lose their jobs, investors lose their money, and owners and managers can lose their dreams. Many businesses fail. The U.S. Small Business Administration indicates that in 2011, 409,040 new firms "entered," and 470,376 firms failed.

Sometimes a business fails because of poor management or workers who are not very productive, or because of tough domestic or foreign competition. Businesses also fail from a variety of causes that might best be summarized as bad luck. For example, conditions of demand and supply in the market shift in an unexpected way, so that the prices that can be charged for outputs fall or the prices that need to be paid for inputs rise. With millions of businesses in the U.S. economy, even a small fraction of them failing will affect many people—and business failures can be very hard on the workers and managers directly involved. But from the standpoint of the overall economic system, business exits are sometimes a necessary evil if a market-oriented system is going to offer a flexible mechanism for satisfying customers, keeping costs low, and inventing new products.

Questions & Answers

current economic plans (MDGS) needs
Ajijola Reply
I don't know what is happening
surajkumar
What is economic
Joeali Reply
What is the importance of study economics
Wilma
Economic is the study of how humans make decisions in face of sacristy
Wilma
economics is the study of how humans makes decision in the face of scarcity
Kpienta
economics is the study of human behaviour when faced with difficult situation example when goods and services are scarcity.
Sydney
what is Economic
Dauda Reply
what is 4ps of economic?
thomas Reply
production place Price product
Benedict
Criticism of elasticity
Siddikur Reply
what is unemployment
Gyamfi Reply
ohk thanks
Gyamfi
why is unemployment rapid in the country
Gyamfi
I need more explanation
Odo
what is unemployment
Munanag Reply
not working
Bethel
some one who is willing qualified to work but can't find job
jackie
Bethel...explain? please
Abubakar
some one who is willing to work but can't find job
Hawa
Yes true
Brian
which one please
Hawa
unemployment refers to the ability for someone who is capable and willing to work but could not find a job..
Mnoko
some one who not able to find a job
Dennis
please what is the secret of learning?
thomas
What is stock market?
JOHN Reply
explain the various types of cost curve
Ruth Reply
Short-run average fixed cost (SRAFC) Short-run average total cost (SRAC or SRATC) Short-run average variable cost (AVC or SRAVC) Short-run fixed cost (FC or SRFC) Short-run marginal cost (SRMC) Short-run total cost (SRTC)
Romy
what's economic development and growth
Popoola Reply
what do you understand by Ceteris Paribus?
Gabriel Reply
the external factor will remained constant, except the price
Hasib
everything being equal
Chenwi
explain the uses of microeconomics
Nikita Reply
uses of microeconomics
Nikita
Adam Smith's definition of economics
Sylvia Reply
what is economic deficit
Amjad
this is a situation whereby a nation's outcome or available resources are not enough to the people thereby causing scarcity
Ariel
prices of Quality demanded is equal to Quality supplied
NABUBOLO Reply
it's quantity demand and quantity supplied that's called equilibrium
Romy
no
NABUBOLO
they deal With prices
NABUBOLO
define the elasticity
NABUBOLO
explain different types of elasticity
NABUBOLO
oops 😬 you are right you talk about quality I tell about quantity
Romy
elasticity is the measurement of the percentage change of one economic variable in response to a change in another
Romy
Cross Elasticity of Demand (XED) Income Elasticity of Demand (YED) Price Elasticity of Supply (PES)
Romy
anything else?
Romy
I need to know everything about theory of consumer behavior
Grace
Romy, what is microeconomic?
thomas
What is Economic please
Dauda
Thomas, microeconomics is the study of how consumers, workers, and firms interact to generate outcomes in specific markets
Kieran
Dauda, economics is the study of people and choices. it is on one side the study of wealth and on the more important side, a part of the study if man
Kieran
How does one analyze a market where both demand and supply shift?
Gabriel Reply
That's equilibrium market
Ramon
but an equlibrum can appear twice on the same market... both in Movement along the Demand/supply curve of shift in the Curve
Gabriel
I Mean on the same curve..
Gabriel
how can consumer surplus be calculated
Franklyn

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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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