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PERFECTLY ELASTIC: An elasticity alternative in which infinitesimally small changes in price cause infinitely large changes in quantity. In other words, quantity is hyper, super, infinitely responsive to price. Any change in price, no matter how small triggers an infinite change in quantity. Perfectly elastic should be compared with other elasticity alternatives--perfectly inelastic, relatively elastic, relatively inelastic, and unit elastic.

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MARGINAL COST: The change in total cost (or total variable cost) resulting from a change in the quantity of output produced by a firm in the short run. Marginal cost indicates how much total cost changes for a give change in the quantity of output. Because changes in total cost are matched by changes in total variable cost in the short run (remember total fixed cost is fixed), marginal cost is the change in either total cost or total variable cost. Marginal cost, usually abbreviated MC, is found by dividing the change in total cost (or total variable cost) by the change in output.

     See also | total cost | total variable cost | marginal cost curve | quantity | law of diminishing marginal returns | technology | resource prices | increasing marginal returns | decreasing marginal returns | U-shaped cost curves | average total cost | average variable cost | average fixed cost | total cost |


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PERFECT COMPETITION, SHORT-RUN SUPPLY CURVE

A perfectly competitive firm's supply curve is that portion of its marginal cost curve that lies above the minimum of the average variable cost curve. A perfectly competitive firm maximizes profit by producing the quantity of output that equates price and marginal cost. As such, the firm moves along its positively-sloped marginal cost curve in response to changing prices.

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