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FIXED FACTOR OF PRODUCTION: An input whose quantity cannot be changed in the time period under consideration. This usually goes by the shorter term fixed input and should be immediately compared and contrasted with variable factor of production, which goes by the shorter term variable input. The most common example of a fixed factor of production is capital. A fixed factor of production provides the "capacity" constraint for the short-run production of a firm. As larger quantities of a variable factor of production, like labor, are added to a fixed factor of production like capital, the variable input becomes less productive. This is, by the way, the law of diminishing marginal returns. For more detailed discussion, take a look at the shorter, more commonly used alias of fixed factor of production, which is fixed input.

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VOLUNTARY EXCHANGE: The process of willingly trading one item for another. The emphasis here is on "willingly." Voluntary exchanges are the heart and soul of market transactions, and should be contrasted with the "involuntary" exchanges mandated by government taxes, laws, and regulations. While involuntary government-forced exchanges play an important role in a mixed economy, economists really, really like voluntary market exchanges because they promote economic efficiency.

     See also | exchange | market | price | involuntary exchange | government | taxes | regulation | government functions | mixed economy |


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AVERAGE TOTAL COST CURVE

A curve that graphically represents the relation between average total cost incurred by a firm in the short-run product of a good or service and the quantity produced. The average total cost curve is constructed to capture the relation between average total cost and the level of output, holding other variables, like technology and resource prices, constant. The average total cost curve is one of three average curves. The other two are average variable cost curve and average fixed cost curve. A related curve is the marginal cost curve.

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