ECONOMIC PROM VERSUS ACCOUNTING PROM

Now let’s return to the firm’s objective: profit. Because economists and accountants measure costs differently, they also measure profit differently. An economist measures a firm’s economic profit as the firm’s total revenue minus all the opportunity costs (explicit and implicit) of producing the goods and services sold. An accountant measures the firm’s accounting profit as the firm’s total reven~e minus only the firm’s explicit costs.

Figure 1 summarizes this difference. Notice that because the accountant ignores the implicit costs, accounting profit is usually larger than economic profit. For a business to be profitable from an economist’s standpoint, total revenue must cover all the opportunity costs, both explicit and implicit.

Economic profit is an important concept because it is what motivates the firms that supply goods and services. As we will see, a firm making positive economic profit will stay in business. It is covering all its opportunity costs and has some revenue left to reward the firm owners. When a firm is making economic losses (that is, when economic profits are negative), the business owners are failing to make enough to cover all the costs of production. Unless conditions change, the firm owners will eventually close the business down and exit the industry. To understand how industries evolve, we need to keep an eye on economic profit.

Figure 1 Economists versus Accountants

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