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Published by: innovativies on Nov 02, 2011
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Such slogans as “buy low, sell high” or “never give a sucker an even break” echo people’s expectations that firms try to maximize their profits. Profit maximization is the standard economic assumption used to analyze the behavior of firms. Profit is a firm’s total revenue minus its total cost; loss is incurred when revenue fails to cover costs. Profits are positive, while losses are negative. Although, economists and bookkeepers define profits and losses similarly, economic profits and accounting profits often differ. Different definitions of costs explain this inconsistency. Economic vs. Accounting Costs You know that the value of the best alternative forgone is the economic cost of anything from lard to romance. All costs, whether monetary or nonmonetary are opportunity costs. One way to break down economic (opportunity) costs of production is to view them as either explicit or implicit costs. Explicit costs require outlays of money. For example, wages paid to employees, rent payments, and utility bills are all explicit costs. Implicit costs are the opportunity costs of resources the firm’s owner makes available for production with no direct cash outlays. Examples include the value of an entrepreneur’s labor and the interest that could be earned were the owners’ assets (including the values of stock in corporations) not tied up in the business. In entering the software business and creating Windows, and subsequently Microsoft, Bill Gates dropped out of college and made a conscious decision to surrender what wages he could have made as a college graduate if his endeavor failed. Though it paid off for him, similar decisions are made on a daily basis by people all over the world and it doesn’t always end favorably for everyone. Firms must all bear both implicit and explicit costs into consideration to make rational business decisions. Economic costs of production include both explicit and implicit costs. On the other hand, bookkeeping tends to focus on monetary costs. Bookkeeping is a mechanical exercise focused only on explicit costs; it primarily records flows of funds and provides a base for computing taxes. Accounting requires evaluation of data for decision-making, a purpose not well served by some standard bookkeeping practices for cost accounting or tax accounting. Fortunately, standards for managerial accounting increasingly conform to the economic view of cost. Let us look at some problems that emerge when implicit costs are ignored.

You forgot to subtract my implicit costs.” you say. Imagine that two years after receiving your college degree your annual salary as an assistant store manager is $28. Economic profit occurs only when a firm’s revenue exceeds all costs. including explicit and implicit costs. your higher job satisfaction is called psychic income. your books tell the following story: Total Sales Revenue Cost of pogo sticks Employees’ wages Utilities Taxes Advertising expenses Total (Explicit) Costs (subtract from revenue) “Congratulations. you quit your job.000 $–125. Being in this business caused me to lose as income: Salary Rent Interest Total Implicit Costs Therefore.Economists include explicit and implicit costs when they think of total (opportunity) cost.000!” $130.000 “Hold it just a moment. –$36. “I have studied economics. and your financial assets generate $3. a loss of This business is a loser!” If.000 –$10.” your bookkeeper pipes up. “you made a Net (Accounting) Profit of $5. Psychic –$28. you own a building that rents for $10. you enjoy operating the pogo-stick shop more than your best alternative (assistant store manager). I’ve had an economic profit that’s negative. At the end of the year. and use your financial assets to establish a pogo-stick shop. Here is an example of how economic profits and accounting profits differ.000 $5.000 $85. however. after deciding to be your own boss.000 .000 per year in interest.000 $20.000. On New Year’s Day. evict your tenants.000 $5.000 –$3.000.000 yearly.000 $10.000 –$41. while bookkeepers commonly fail to include in total cost many implicit costs incurred by the owners of a firm.

whereas you can live where you work at the pogo stick factory.income is an implicit revenue that refers to nonmonetary satisfaction gained from an activity. which tend to be significant. Business decisions tend to be rational. Bookkeeping profit typically overstates economic profit because bookkeepers fail to subtract implicit costs. . they subtract estimates of implicit costs from bookkeeping profit. after calculating taxable profits. you no longer have to ride the bus to work to your old assistant manager job. saving 500 dollars per year in transportation). Accountants typically recognize that conventional bookkeeping costs and profits are inadequate. however. taxes and national income accounts are based on accounting data. This type of managerial accounting provides a better picture of a firm’s track record.g. while implicit benefits are usually small (e. and so are most frequently based on expected economic costs and profits. The explicit cost data used to compute accounting profit for tax purposes are more accessible than the additional implicit cost data needed to estimate economic profits or losses. Thus.

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