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February 12, 2016 

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ACCOUNTING PROFIT: The difference between a business's revenue and it's accounting expenses. This is the profit that's listed on a company's balance sheet, appears periodically in the financial sector of the newspaper, and is reported to the Internal Revenue Service for tax purposes. It frequently has little relationship to a company's economic profit because of the difference between accounting expense and the opportunity cost of production. Some accounting expense is not an opportunity cost and some opportunity cost is does not show up as an accounting expenses.

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ECONOMIC PROFIT:

The difference between the total opportunity cost of production and the total revenue received by a firm. Economic profit is what remains after ALL opportunity cost associated with production (including a normal profit) is deducted from the revenue generated by the production. Economic profit is one of three alternative notions of profit. The other two are accounting profit and normal profit.
Economic profit is THE indicator used by economists when the conversation turns to efficiency. In a perfect world, that is, a perfectly efficient world, no firm receives economic profit. Firms receive economic profit only when price exceeds the opportunity cost of production, which is not efficient.

But how would a firm stay in business without generating economic profit? A firm can remain in business and continue producing goods and services so long as it is able to pay ALL opportunity cost. One key opportunity cost is a normal profit, the profit entrepreneurship could earn with alternative production. Because accounting profit is generally the combination of normal profit and economic profit, zero economic profit does not mean zero accounting profit.

Revenue Minus Cost

Economic profit is the difference between total revenue and total cost. This is commonly summarized with the following equation:
economic profit=total revenue - total cost

Sources of Economic Profit

While a world of perfect efficiency would see no economic profit, in the real world, firms often do receive above-normal, economic profit. In fact, some good can be had with positive economic profit. This can be seen by noting three reasons for economic profit: (1) market control, (2) risk, and (3) innovation.
  • Market Control: One of the most common reasons for economic profit is market control by a firm. A firm has market control if it can exert some degree of influence, or control, over the market price. Market control, especially that held by monopoly and oligopoly firms, generates profit by inefficiently allocating resources. By controlling the price, a firm is able to generate more revenue, and thus more profit, than it would in a more (perfectly) competitive situation.

    This is NOT a good type of profit for the economy. It is, however, the type of profit most often encountered in the analysis of short-run production.


  • Risk: Economic profit is also generated due to the risk of organizing production. Some entrepreneurship is willing to undertake more risky production activities, and in so doing they are rewarded with greater economic profit. Risk profit is generated as a reward for undertaking a risky activity that may or may not succeed, especially launching a new business venture.

    Risk profit is a good type of profit for the economy. Without the prospect of "extra" reward, by way of economic profit, for taking the risk of production, such risky activities would not be pursued. And society would miss out on the resulting benefits.


  • Innovation: Firms also receive economic profit as a reward for innovative activity, that is introducing a new product or a technological innovation, also which may or may not succeed. Innovation profit is the reward for entrepreneurship seeking to be first onto the market with a particular good or service.

    Risk profit is also beneficial for the economy. Without the prospect of this economic profit, entrepreneurship would lack the incentive to introduce new products. And society would miss out on the resulting benefits of technological innovations. People might still be living in caves, picking berries, and gnawing on mastodon bones.


<= ECONOMIC GROWTH, SOURCESECONOMIC REPORT OF THE PRESIDENT =>


Recommended Citation:

ECONOMIC PROFIT, AmosWEB Encyclonomic WEB*pedia, http://www.AmosWEB.com, AmosWEB LLC, 2000-2016. [Accessed: February 12, 2016].


Check Out These Related Terms...

     | accounting profit | normal profit | accounting cost | profit |


Or For A Little Background...

     | opportunity cost | explicit cost | economic cost | cost | production | production cost | business | factors of production | microeconomics | short-run production analysis |


And For Further Study...

     | total cost | variable cost | fixed cost | average cost | marginal cost | legal business organizations | firm objectives | opportunity cost, production possibilities | profit maximization |


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