Economics Terms A-Z
In its simplest form, opportunity cost refers to the loss of the positive results of a decision when an alternative decision is made. It refers to the actual loss incurred by not choosing one option when another is selected. This cost does not only refer to money, but any lost benefits which may result in choice. A simple example of this would be that the opportunity cost of using a machine to make one product is the production of another product. That is, the second product cannot be produced, and its not being produced is an opportunity cost.
Opportunity costs are involved in almost all decisions that are made in economics, but not always. For instance, if the machine involved in the aforementioned example is built to only make one product, there is no opportunity cost involved, as no sacrifice of other products is needed; they couldn’t be produced anyway. There are explicit opportunity costs and implicit costs. Explicit costs refer directly to the money given out, and this money, which is given out, is itself the opportunity cost. Implicit costs do not refer to money, but to the choice not to allocate time or resources to other alternative uses.
Supply and Demand
One of the most fundamental tenets of economics. Supply refers to the quantity of a product being produced, and demand the quantity consumers wish to buy. In its most basic form, it refers to the theory that the price for a good or service will eventually settle at a point when its demand and its quantity are equal (assuming all other factors remain equal). This is referred to as the equilibrium.
Having the comparative advantage (if, for example, you are a business) means that you can produce a good or service at a relatively lower cost than that of your competitors. Having the comparative advantage means you will be able to sell your goods for a lower cost than your competitors and potentially perform better.
Consumer Surplus and Producer Surplus
Consumer surplus is the gain made by consumers when they purchase an item at the competitive market price rather than the (highest) price that they would have been willing to pay for it. Analogously, producer surplus is the gain made by producers when they sell an item at the market price rather than the (lowest) price that they would also have accepted for it.