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February 23, 2020 

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CAPACITY UTILIZATION RATE: The ratio of actual production by business sector factories and other productive establishments in the economy to the potential production of these establishments. This rate indicates if our economy's factories are being used as effectively and as fully as possible. Like the unemployment rate, the capacity utilization rate measures how close our economy is to full employment. And like unemployment, this rate moves up and down over the course of a business cycle. During expansions, the rate is near 85 percent (considered full employment), and during contractions, it tends to be in the 70 percent range. In addition to an overall rate, there are also separate rates for manufacturing, mining, and utility industries.

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TRADE BARRIERS: Restrictions, invariably by government, that prevent free trade among countries. The more popular trade restrictions are tariffs, import quotas, and assorted nontariff barriers. An occasional embargo will be even thrown into this mix. The primary use of trade barriers is to restrict imports from entering in country. By restring imports, domestic producers of the restricted goods are protected from competition and are even subsidized through higher prices. Consumers, though, get the short end of this stick with higher prices and a limited choice of goods. In that producers tend to have more political clout than consumers, it's pretty obvious why trade barriers are a "natural" state of affairs.

     See also | foreign trade | free trade | tariff | import | quota | embargo | export | competition | subsidy | GATT |


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ACCOUNTING COST

An actual outlay or expenses incurred in the production of a good that shows up in a firm's accounting statements and records. Accounting cost is an explicit payment (that is, money changing hands) incurred by a firm. Accounting cost, while very important to accountants, company CEOs, shareholders, and the Internal Revenue Service, is only minimally important to economists. The reason is that economists are more interested in economic cost (also called opportunity cost), which is the value of foregone production.

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