The Shutdown Point

The opportunity that a firm might earn accident raises a question: Why can the certain not prevent losses through shutting down and also not creating at all? The answer is the shutting down deserve to reduce variable costs to zero, yet in the short run, the for sure has currently paid for fixed costs. Together a result, if the for sure produces a amount of zero, it would still do losses due to the fact that it would certainly still have to pay for its resolved costs. So, when a firm is enduring losses, it must confront a question: must it continue producing or have to it closeup of the door down?

As one example, consider the instance of the Yoga Center, which has signed a contract to rent room that costs $10,000 per month. If the certain decides to operate, its marginal prices for hiring yoga teachers is $15,000 because that the month. If the firm shuts down, it must still pay the rent, yet it would not have to hire labor. Let’s take it a look at three possible scenarios. In the very first scenario, the Yoga facility does no have any clients, and also therefore does no make any revenues, in which situation it faces losses that $10,000 equal to the fixed costs. In the second scenario, the Yoga facility has clients that earn the center revenues of $10,000 for the month, yet ultimately experiences losses the $15,000 because of having to rental yoga instructors come cover the classes. In the third scenario, the Yoga center earns profits of $20,000 because that the month, yet experiences accident of $5,000.

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In all three cases, the Yoga center loses money. In all three cases, once the rental contract expires in the lengthy run, suspect revenues execute not improve, the certain should leave this business. In the quick run, though, the decision varies depending upon the level that losses and also whether the firm have the right to cover its change costs. In script 1, the facility does not have any revenues, so hiring yoga teacher would boost variable costs and losses, for this reason it need to shut down and only incur its fixed costs. In scenario 2, the center’s losses room greater since it does no make sufficient revenue to offset the raised variable costs plus solved costs, therefore it should shut down immediately. If price is listed below the minimum median variable cost, the firm must shut down. In contrast, in scenario 3 the revenue that the facility can knife is high enough that the losses diminish as soon as it continues to be open, so the facility should remain open up in the short run.

Should the Yoga center Shut Down now or Later?

Scenario 1

If the facility shuts down now, profits are zero yet it will certainly not incur any kind of variable costs and also would only should pay fixed prices of $10,000.

profit = total revenue – (fixed costs + variable cost)

profit = 0 – $10,000 = –$10,000

Scenario 2

The facility earns revenues of $10,000, and also variable prices are $15,000. The center should shut down now.

profit = total revenue – (fixed costs + variable cost)

profit = $10,000 – ($10,000 + $15,000) = –$15,000

Scenario 3

The center earns profits of $20,000, and variable prices are $15,000. The center should proceed in business.

profit = total revenue – (fixed costs + variable cost)

profit = $20,000 – ($10,000 + $15,000) = –$5,000

This example says that the crucial factor is whether a firm can earn sufficient revenues come cover at the very least its variable prices by staying open. Let’s return now to our raspberry farm. Number 8.6 illustrates this lesson by adding the average variable expense curve to the marginal cost and also average expense curves. In ~ a price the $2.20 per pack, as displayed in number 8.6 (a), the farm produces at a level of 50. It is making losses that $56 (as defined earlier), yet price is over average change cost and so the firm continues to operate. However, if the price declined to $1.80 per pack, as presented in figure 8.6 (b), and also if the firm applied its preeminence of developing where ns = grandfather = MC, that would produce a quantity of 40. This price is below average variable expense for this level the output. If the farmer can not pay workers (the variable costs), then it needs to shut down. In ~ this price and output, full revenues would certainly be $72 (quantity that 40 times price the $1.80) and total cost would be $144, for overall losses the $72. If the farm yard shuts down, it need to pay only its fixed expenses of $62, for this reason shutting down is preferable to marketing at a price that $1.80 per pack.

Figure 8.6. The Shutdown allude for the Raspberry Farm. In (a), the farm produces in ~ a level of 50. The is make losses that $56, yet price is above average change cost, so it continues to operate. In (b), full revenues room $72 and also total price is $144, for all at once losses of $72. If the farm yard shuts down, it have to pay just its fixed costs of $62. Shutting down is preferable to marketing at a price the $1.80 per pack.

Looking at Table 8.6, if the price falls listed below $2.05, the minimum mean variable cost, the firm need to shut down.

Table 8.6. Expense of production for the Raspberry Farm

QuantityTotalCostFixedCostVariableCostMarginalCostAverageCostAverageVariable Cost

The intersection the the median variable cost curve and also the marginal expense curve, which reflects the price wherein the firm would lack sufficient revenue come cover its change costs, is called the shutdown point. If the perfect competitive firm have the right to charge a price over the shutdown point, then the for sure is at the very least covering its median variable costs. It is also making sufficient revenue come cover at the very least a section of resolved costs, therefore it need to limp ahead even if that is do losses in the short run, since at the very least those losses will certainly be smaller than if the certain shuts down immediately and incurs a loss equal to total fixed costs. However, if the firm is receiving a price listed below the price at the shutdown point, then the for sure is not even covering its variable costs. In this case, staying open up is making the firm’s losses larger, and it need to shut down immediately. Come summarize, if:

price price = minimum median variable cost, then firm continues to be in business


The median cost and average variable cost curves division the marginal price curve into three segments, as presented in figure 8.7. In ~ the industry price, i beg your pardon the perfect competitive certain accepts together given, the profit-maximizing firm choose the output level whereby price or marginal revenue, which are the same thing because that a perfect competitive firm, is same to marginal cost: ns = grandfather = MC.

Figure 8.7. Profit, Loss, Shutdown. The marginal cost curve deserve to be separated into three zones, based on where it is crossed by the mean cost and average variable price curves. The point where MC crosses AC is dubbed the zero-profit point. If the firm is operation at a level of output whereby the sector price is at a level greater than the zero-profit point, then price will be better than mean cost and also the firm is earning profits. If the price is exactly at the zero-profit point, climate the firm is make zero profits. If price drops in the zone in between the shutdown allude and the zero-profit point, then the firm is make losses however will continue to operate in the quick run, due to the fact that it is spanning its change costs. However, if price falls listed below the price at the shutdown point, climate the firm will certainly shut under immediately, because it is not also covering its change costs.

First consider the upper zone, where prices are over the level whereby marginal price (MC) crosses average cost (AC) at the zero profit point. At any type of price above that level, the firm will certainly earn revenues in the quick run. If the price falls exactly on the zero profit point where the MC and AC curves cross, then the firm earns zero profits. If a price falls into the zone in between the zero benefit point, wherein MC crosses AC, and also the shutdown point, wherein MC the cross AVC, the firm will be making losses in the quick run—but because the for sure is more than extending its variable costs, the losses are smaller sized than if the certain shut down immediately. Finally, think about a price at or below the shutdown point where MC the cross AVC. At any kind of price like this one, the firm will certainly shut under immediately, because it cannot also cover its change costs.

Watch this video clip to view an illustrated example of zero profit, or the regular profit, point:


For a perfectly competitive firm, the marginal expense curve is the same to the firm’s it is provided curve starting from the minimum suggest on the typical variable cost curve. To recognize why this possibly surprising insight holds true, very first think about what the it is provided curve means. A firm check the industry price and then looks at its it is provided curve to decide what quantity to produce. Now, think about what it method to say that a firm will certainly maximize its earnings by creating at the quantity where ns = MC. This rule way that the firm check the sector price, and also then looks at its marginal expense to determine the quantity to produce—and renders sure the the price is greater than the minimum median variable cost. In various other words, the marginal cost curve over the minimum suggest on the mean variable cost curve i do not care the firm’s it is provided curve.

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Watch this video clip that addresses how drought in the United claims can affect food prices throughout the world. (Note the the story top top the dryness is the second one in the news report; you need to let the video play through the very first story in order to watch the story top top the drought.)

As disputed in the module ~ above Demand and Supply, numerous of the factors that supply curves change relate come underlying changes in costs. For example, a lower price of vital inputs or new technologies that mitigate production costs cause supply to shift to the right; in contrast, bad weather or included government regulations can add to expenses of particular goods in a means that causes supply to change to the left. These shifts in the firm’s it is provided curve can additionally be construed as shifts of the marginal price curve. A change in prices of manufacturing that rises marginal costs at every levels the output—and move MC come the left—will reason a perfectly competitive firm to create less at any kind of given industry price. Conversely, a shift in expenses of production that to reduce marginal costs at every levels of output will change MC come the right and as a result, a competitive for sure will pick to expand its level of calculation at any kind of given price.


To identify the short-run economic problem of a for sure in perfect competition, follow the steps outlined below. Usage the data shown in Table 8.7 below:

Table 8.7 Calculating Short-Run financial Condition


Step 1. determine the cost structure because that the firm. Because that a given full fixed costs and also variable costs, calculate full cost, median variable cost, average full cost, and marginal cost. Follow the formulas given in the Cost and Industry structure module. These calculations are presented in Table 8.8 below:

Table 8.8


(5−4)= $28

Step 2. recognize the sector price the the for sure receives because that its product. This have to be offered information, together the for sure in perfect competition is a price taker. With the provided price, calculate full revenue together equal to price multiply by quantity for all calculation levels produced. In this example, the provided price is $30. You have the right to see the in the 2nd column that Table 8.9.

Table 8.9

28. Row 3: at Q = 2, p = 28, TR is 28x2=$56. Heat 4: at Q = 3, p = 28, TR is 28x3=$84. Heat 5: at Q = 4, ns = 28, TR is 28x4= 112. Heat 6: at Q = 5, p = 28, TR is 28x5= 140.">QuantityPriceTotal Revenue (P × Q)

Step 3. Calculate revenues as total cost subtracted from complete revenue, as displayed in Table 8.10 below:

Table 8.10

QuantityTotal RevenueTotal CostProfits (TR−TC)

Step 4. To uncover the profit-maximizing calculation level, look at the Marginal cost column (at every calculation level produced), as shown in Table 8.11, and determine where it is same to the market price. The output level whereby price amounts to the marginal expense is the calculation level that maximizes profits.

Table 8.11


Step 5. when you have identified the profit-maximizing calculation level (in this case, output quantity 5), you have the right to look in ~ the amount of profits made (in this case, $50).

Step 6. If the certain is making economic losses, the firm requirements to identify whether the produces the output level whereby price equals marginal revenue and also equals marginal cost or it shuts down and only occurs its fixed costs.

Step 7. for the output level wherein marginal revenue is equal to marginal cost, check if the industry price is higher than the typical variable cost of developing that output level.

If ns > AVC yet P If p

In this example, the price of $30 is greater than the AVC ($16.40) of creating 5 devices of output, for this reason the firm proceeds producing.

Watch this video clip to view an illustrated example of a firm who is encountering loses:

Self Check: The Shutdown Point

Answer the question(s) listed below to see how well you recognize the topics covered in the vault section. This quick quiz walk not count toward your grade in the class, and also you have the right to retake it an unlimited variety of times.

You’ll have more success on the Self examine if did you do it completed the analysis in this section.

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Use this quiz to examine your understanding and decide whether to (1) study the vault section additional or (2) move on to the next section.