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PERFECT COMPETITION AND 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 it's marginal cost curve in response to alternative prices. Because the marginal cost curve is positively sloped due to the law of diminishing marginal returns, the firm's supply curve is also positively sloped.

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SUPPLY CURVE:

A graphical representation of the relation between the supply price and quantity supplied, holding all ceteris paribus supply determinants constant. A supply curve graphically illustrates the law of supply, the direct relation between supply price and quantity supplied for a particular good. It is one half of the standard market model. A demand curve is the other half.
A supply curve is a useful graph that can summarize several of the more important aspects of supply. It graphically illustrates the law of supply and when combined with the demand curve forms the market model, one of the most useful tools found in economic analysis.

Plotting the Numbers

A supply curve is commonly derived from a simple supply schedule, such as the one for stuffed Yellow Tarantulas, a cute and cuddly stuffed creature from the Wacky Willy Stuffed Amigos line of collectibles, shown in this exhibit. This schedule illustrates the law of supply relation between supply price and quantity supplied. As the supply price increases from $5 to $50, the quantity supplied increases from 0 to 900 Yellow Tarantulas.
Supply ScheduleSupply Curve

Transferring the price-quantity pairs from the supply schedule to a graph reveals the supply curve for stuffed Yellow Tarantulas. This task is easily accomplished by clicking the [Plot] button. A $5 price is associated with 0 stuffed animals, a $10 price goes with 100 stuffed animals, and on it proceeds, until finally a $50 price is paired with 900 stuffed animals.

The supply curve is finalized by connecting these 10 points with a continuous line. The 10 prices corresponding to these 10 points, are but 10 of an infinite number of prices, each with a corresponding quantity. A continuous line includes these other possibilities. To reveal this line, click the [Draw] button. The end result is the supply curve.

What It All Means

Here are a few observations about this supply curve.
  • First, as the price increases from a low of $5 to a high of $50, the quantity supplied of Yellow Tarantulas increases from 0 to 900. Higher prices are related to larger quantities. This relation, this direct relation between supply price and quantity supplied, IS the basic law of supply.

  • Second, the supply curve represents maximum quantities and minimum prices. That is, if the price is $10, then the maximum quantity supplied is 100 Yellow Tarantulas. It is not 150, nor even 101, but only 100. Alternatively, if sellers offer 100 Yellow Tarantulas for sale, then the minimum supply price they are willing and able to accept is $10, not $5, not even $9.99, but $10.

  • Third, this whole curve, every price-quantity combination on the curve, is supply. Supply is the entire range of prices and quantities, all pairs. Supply is the entire curve. In contrast, quantity supplied is any specific number of Yellow Tarantulas sellers are willing and able to sell at a specific supply price. Selecting a different price generates a different quantity supplied. Quantity supplied is a point on the curve.

  • Fourth, this supply curve represents hypothetical possibilities. It suggests a "What if" relation between supply price and quantity supplied. It indicates quantity supplied given a supply price, or supply price given the quantity supplied. If, for example, the supply price is $10, then sellers are willing and able to sell 100 Yellow Tarantulas. This does not mean that sellers will sell, are selling, or ever will sell 100 Yellow Tarantulas. It only indicates what they would sell at a $10 price.

<= SUPPLY BY A FIRMSUPPLY DECREASE =>


Recommended Citation:

SUPPLY CURVE, AmosWEB Encyclonomic WEB*pedia, http://www.AmosWEB.com, AmosWEB LLC, 2000-2014. [Accessed: October 23, 2014].


Check Out These Related Terms...

     | supply price | quantity supplied | law of supply | supply space | producer surplus | supply determinants | change in supply | change in quantity supplied | demand curve |


Or For A Little Background...

     | supply | supply schedule | market | quantity | price | opportunity cost | limited resources | economic analysis | exchange | scarcity | good | service | production |


And For Further Study...

     | market supply | competition | value | production possibilities | competitive market | efficiency | law of increasing opportunity cost | short-run production analysis | marginal cost | marginal cost curve | marginal product | law of diminishing marginal returns |


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