Markets and Market Failure Concept Glossary

An A-Z glossary for the Unit 1 Micro course

Excise duties

Excise duties are indirect taxes levied on our spending on goods and services such as cigarettes, fuel and alcohol. There are also duties on air travel, car insurance.

Ability to pay

The idea that taxes should be levied on a person according to how well that person can shoulder the burden / afford to pay

Absolute poverty

The number of people living below a certain income threshold or the number of households unable to afford certain basic goods and services. The United Nations definition is a severe and persistent deprivation of basic human needs

Ad valorem tax

An indirect tax based on a percentage of the sales price of a good or service. An increase in an ad valorem tax causes an inward shift in the supply curve

Adam Smith

One of the founding fathers of modern economics. His most famous work was the Wealth of Nations (1776) - a study of the progress of nations where people act according to their own self-interest - which improves the public good. Smith's discussion of the advantages of division of labour remains a potent idea

Adverse selection

Where the expected value of a transaction is known more accurately by the buyer or the seller due to an asymmetry of information; e.g. health insurance

Air passenger duty

A per passenger charge on air travel from UK airports. The level of duty varies depending on the class of travel (with economy class having a smaller charge) and the distance travelled.

Alcohol duties

Excise duties on alcohol are a form of indirect tax and are chargeable on beer, wine and spirits according to their volume and/or alcoholic content.


A sociological term to describe the estrangement many workers feel from their work, which may reduce their motivation and productivity. It is sometimes argued that alienation is a result of the division of labour because workers are not involved with the satisfaction of producing a finished product, and do not feel part of a team.

Allocative efficiency

Allocative efficiency occurs when the value that consumers place on a good or service (reflected in the price they are willing and able to pay) equals the cost of the resources used up in production.

Asking price

The price at which a security, commodity or currency is offered for sale on the market - generally the lowest price the seller will accept.

Asymmetric information

Occurs when somebody knows more than somebody else in the market. Such asymmetric information can make it difficult for the two people to do business together. A situation in which some agents have more information than others and this affects the outcome of a bargain between them


A production technique that uses capital machinery / technology to replace or enhance human labour

Average cost

Average or unit cost (AC) is the total cost divided by the number of units of the commodity produced.

Average fixed cost

Fixed costs are costs of production which are constant whatever the level of output. Average fixed costs are total fixed costs divided by the number of units of output, that is, fixed cost per unit of output

Barriers to entry

Factors which make it difficult or expensive for new firms to enter a market in order to compete with existing suppliers. Examples of barriers to entry include the effect of patents; brand loyalty among consumers; the high costs of buying capital equipment and also the need to win licences to operate in certain markets.


The practice of exchanging one good or service for another, without using money

Basic economic problem

The basic problem is that there are infinite wants but finite (non-renewable) resources with which to satisfy them

Black market

An illegal market in which the market price is higher than a legally imposed price ceiling. Black markets can develop where there is excess demand (or a shortage) for a commodity


Any factor that causes production to be delayed or stopped – this may reduce the price elasticity of supply of a product


A distinctive product offering which is created by the use of a logo, symbol, name, design, packaging or combination thereof. The key in designing and building a brand is to differentiate it from competitors.

Buffer stock

Buffer stock schemes seek to stabilize the market price of agricultural products by buying up supplies of the product when harvests are plentiful and selling stocks of the product onto the market when supplies are low.


The purchase by one organisation of large quantities of a product or raw material, which often results in a lower price because of their market power and because it is cheaper to deal with one customer and the deliveries can be on a larger scale.

Buyer's market

A market that favours buyers because supply is plentiful relative to demand and therefore prices are relatively low. The opposite of a seller's market.


A by-product is a good or service that is produced as a consequence of producing another good or service.

Capacity utilisation

The extent to which a business is making full use of existing factor resources


Efforts to develop human skills or infrastructures within a community or organisation

Capital goods

Producer or capital goods such as plant (factories) and machinery and equipment are useful not in themselves but for the goods and services they can help produce in the future. Distinguished from "financial capital", meaning funds which are available to finance the production or acquisition of real capital


A production technique which uses a high proportion of capital to labour

Capitalist economy

An economic system organised along capitalist lines uses market-determined prices to guide our choices about the production and distribution of goods. One key role for the state is to maintain the rule of law and protect private property.

Carbon capture and storage

The process of trapping and storing carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels

Carbon credits

An allowance to a business to generate a specific level of emissions – may be traded in a carbon market


A cartel is a formal agreement among firms. Cartel members may agree on prices, total industry output, market shares, allocation of customers, allocation of territories, bid rigging, establishment of common sales agencies, and the division of profits or combination of these. Cartels are illegal under UK and European competition laws.

Ceteris paribus

To simplify analysis, economists isolate the relationship between two variables by assuming ceteris paribus - all other influencing factors are held constant.

Cigarette duties

Cigs in the UK are taxed on 16.5% retail price + £154.95 per thousand cigarettes.


Collusion is any explicit or implicit agreement between suppliers in a market to avoid competition. The main aim of this is to reduce market uncertainty and achieve a level of joint profits similar to that which might be achieved by a pure monopolist.

Command and control

Laws and regulation backed up by inspection and penalties for non-compliance

Command economy

An economic system where all resources are allocated by the government, with no markets (eg ex-Soviet bloc, North Korea).

Common resources

Goods or services that have characteristics of rivalry in consumption and non-excludability - grazing land or fish stocks are examples. The over-exploitation of common resources can lead to the "tragedy of the commons"

Competition policy

Government policy directed at encouraging competition in the private sector: e.g. the investigation of takeovers or restrictive practices

Competitive market

A market where no single firm has a dominant position and where the consumer has plenty of choice when buying goods or services. There are few barriers to the entry of new firms

Competitive supply

Goods in competitive supply are alternative products a firm could make with its resources. E.g. a farmer can plant potatoes or carrots. An electronics factory can produce VCRs or DVDs.


Two complements are said to be in joint demand. Examples include: fish and chips, DVD players and DVDs, iron ore and steel,

Composite demand

Where goods or services have more than one use so that an increase in the demand for one product leads to a fall in supply of the other. E.g. milk which can be used for cheese, yoghurts, cream, butter and other products. If more milk is used for manufacturing cheese, ceteris paribus there is less available for butter. Another example is when demand for bricks increases for use in both house building and factory building

Conspicuous consumption

Conspicuous consumption is consumption designed to impress others rather than something that is wanted for its own sake.


Limits to what we can afford to consume – we have to operate within budgets, and make choices from those sets that are feasible/affordable. There is always a set of conceivable thing that are actually available, and another set of that aren't

Consumer durable

A good such as a washing machine or a digital camera that lasts a period of time, during which the consumer can continue gaining utility from it.

Consumer sovereignty

Consumer sovereignty exists when the economic system allows scarce resources to be allocated to producing goods and services that reflect the wishes of consumers. Sovereignty can be distorted by the effects of persuasive advertising

Consumer surplus

A measure of the welfare that people gain from the consumption of goods and services, or a measure of the benefits they derive from the exchange of goods. Consumer surplus is the difference between the total amount that consumers are willing and able to pay for a good or service (indicated by the demand curve) and the total amount that they actually pay (the market price)


The act of using goods and services to satisfy wants. This will normally involve purchasing the goods and services

Contestable market

Market with no entry barriers - firms can enter or leave an without significant cost.


Costs faced by a business when producing a good or service for a market. Every business faces costs - these must be recouped if a business is to make a profit from its activities. In the short run a firm will have fixed and variable costs of production.

Cross price elasticity of demand

Responsiveness of demand for good X following a change in the price of good Y (a related good). With cross price elasticity we make an important distinction between substitute products and complementary goods and services.

Cyclical demand

Demand that change in a regular way over time depending on the part of the trade cycle that a country is in or the time of year.

Deadweight loss

The loss in producer and consumer surplus due to an inefficient level of production perhaps resulting from market failure or government failure


Quantity of a good or service that consumers are willing and able to buy at a given price in a given time period.

Demand curve

A demand curve shows the relationship between the price of an item and the quantity demanded over a period of time. For normal goods, more of a product will be demanded as the price falls.

De-merit goods

The consumption of de-merit goods can lead to negative externalities which causes a fall in social welfare. Consumers may be unaware of the negative externalities that these goods create - they have imperfect information.

Derived demand

The demand for a product X might be strongly linked to the demand for a related product Y - giving rise to the idea of a derived demand.

Diminishing returns

As more of a variable factor (e.g. labour) is added to a fixed factor (e.g. capital) a firm will reach a point where it has a disproportionate quantity of labour to capital and so the marginal product of labour will fall, thus raising marginal costs

Disposable income

Income that remains after direct taxes and government charges has been paid.


The reduction of risk achieved by replacing a single risk with a larger number of smaller unrelated risks

Division of labour

The specialization of labour in specific tasks, intended to increase productivity


A reduction in an organisation's workforce

Economic efficiency

Economic efficiency is about making the best use of our scarce resources among competing ends so that economic and social welfare is maximised over time

Economic growth

An increase in the productive potential of the country – shown by an outward shift of the production possibility frontier. Economic growth is measured in two main ways — as an increase in real GDP or as an increase in potential GDP

Economic planning

Government policies aimed at influencing trends in the economy.

Economy of scale

Reductions in long-run average cost from an increase in the scale of production.

Economy of scope

Economies of scope occur where it is cheaper to produce a range of products.

Effective demand

Demand in economics must be effective. Only when a consumers' desire to buy a product is backed up by an ability to pay for it do we speak of demand.

Elastic demand

Demand for which price elasticity is greater than 1

Elastic supply

Where the price elasticity of supply is greater than +1

Elasticity of supply

Price elasticity of supply measures the relationship between change in quantity supplied and a change in price.

Emission tax

A charge made to firms that pollute the environment based on the quantity of pollution they emit i.e. the volume of CO2 emissions


An entrepreneur is an individual who seeks to supply products to a market for a rate of return (i.e. a profit). Entrepreneurs will usually invest their own financial capital in a business and take on the risks associated with a business investment.


Equilibrium means 'at rest' or 'a state of balance' - i.e. a situation where there is no tendency for change. The concept is used in both microeconomics (e.g. equilibrium prices in a market) and also in macroeconomics (e.g. equilibrium national income)

Excess demand

The difference between the quantity supplied and the higher quantity demanded when price is set below the equilibrium price. This will result in queuing and an upward pressure on price

Excess supply

When supply is greater than demand and there are unsold goods in the market. Surpluses put downward pressure on the market price.


The property of a good whereby a person can be prevented from using it

External cost

External costs are those costs faced by a third party for which no appropriate compensation is forthcoming. Identifying and then estimating a monetary value for air and noise pollution is a difficult exercise - but one that is increasingly important for economists concerned with the impact of economic activity on our environment.

External growth

When a company increases its sales and profits by buying other companies, rather than from its own operations.


Externalities are third party effects arising from production and consumption of goods and services for which no appropriate compensation is paid.

Factor incomes

Factor incomes are the rewards to factors of production. Labour receives wages and salaries, land earns rent, capital earns interest and enterprise earns profit.

Finite resources

There are only a finite number of workers, machines, acres of land and reserves of oil and other natural resources on the earth. By producing more for an ever-increasing population, we amay destroy the natural resources of the planet.

First mover advantage

The first company to introduce a new product to market, has the opportunity to extract the greatest long term benefit from the product introduction compared to that which following companies would be able to gain.

Fixed costs

Costs that do not vary directly with the level of output. Examples of fixed costs include: rent and business rates, the depreciation in the value of capital equipment (plant and machinery) due to age and marketing and advertising costs.

Flexible working

A workforce that is multi-skilled and able to work variable hours in response to changing demand

Free market

System of buying and selling that is not under the control of the government, and where people can buy and sell freely, or an economy where free markets exist, and most companies and property are not owned by the state


A business model, especially on the Internet, whereby basic services are provided free of charge while more advanced (premium) features must be paid for

Geographical immobility

People may also experience geographical immobility – meaning that there are barriers to them moving from one area to another to find work

Gini Coefficient

The Gini coefficient measures the extent to which the distribution of income (or, in some cases, consumption expenditures) among individuals or households within an economy deviates from a perfectly equal distribution. The coefficient ranges from 0 -meaning perfect equality -to 1- complete inequality.


A process by which economies and cultures have been drawn together through a global network of trade, investment, capital flows, and rapid spread of technology.

Government failure

Policies that cause a deeper market failure. Government failure may range from the trivial, when intervention is merely ineffective, to cases where intervention produces new and more serious problems that did not exist before

Government spending

Government spending is by central and local government on goods and services.

Health rationing

Health rationing occurs when the demand for health care services outstrips the available resources leading to waiting lists and delays for health treatment.


The process of protecting oneself against risk. For example, a company who owes money to an overseas company may want to hedge against the risk that the exchange rate moves against them. They could do this by taking out a future contract for the purchase of foreign exchange at a fixed future rate

Horizontal equity

Horizontal equity requires equals to be treated equally e.g. people in the same income group should be taxed at the same percentage rate

Horizontal integration

Where two firms join at the same stage of production in one industry. For example two car manufacturers may decide to merge


Incentives matter enormously in any study of microeconomics, markets and market failure. For competitive markets to work efficiently economic agents (i.e. consumers and producers) must respond to price signals in the market.

Incidence of a tax

How the final burden of a tax is shared out. If demand for a good is elastic and a tax is imposed then the tax may fall mainly on the producer as they will be unable to put prices up without losing a lot of demand.


Income represents a flow of earnings from using factors of production to generate an output of goods and services. For example wages and salaries are a factor reward to labour and interest is the flow of income for the ownership of capital.

Income elasticity of demand

Measures the relationship between a change in quantity demanded and a change in real income. The formula for income elasticity is: percentage change in quantity demanded divided by the percentage change in income

Income gap

A measure of the gap between the incomes of various groups shown by plotting the average incomes of the between the lowest and highest decile (10% grouping)

Indirect tax

An indirect tax is imposed on producers (suppliers) by the government. Examples include excise duties on cigarettes, alcohol and fuel and also value added tax.

Inelastic demand

When the price elasticity of demand is less than 1

Inelastic supply

When the price elasticity of supply is less than +1

Inferior good

When demand for a product falls as real incomes increases

Informal economy

Undeclared economic activity which forms the shadow economy

Information failure

Information failure occurs when people have inaccurate, incomplete, uncertain or misunderstood data and so make potentially 'wrong' choices.


The commercial development of exploiting new or improved goods and services.


Labour, capital and other resources used in the production of goods and services

Intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) is the legal property rights over creations of the mind, both artistic and commercial, and the corresponding fields of law. Common types of intellectual property include copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets.


Internalising is where any spill-over effects from economic activity are absorbed by the consumer or firm themselves. This may arise for example, where a pollution tax has been charged on the good that makes them pay the external costs themselves


Unsold products, finished and unfinished, and the raw materials used to make them

Invisible hand

Adam Smith - one of the founding fathers of modern economics, described how the invisible or hidden hand of the market operated in a competitive market through the pursuit of self-interest to allocate resources in society's best interest

Joint supply

Joint supply describes a situation where an increase or decrease in the supply of one good leads to an increase or decrease in supply of another by-product. For example an expansion in the volume of beef production will lead to a rising market supply of beef hides. A contraction in supply of lamb will reduce the supply of wool.

Just in time

Production that produces goods to order. The business does not hold any significant level of stock


Natural resources available for production

Latent demand

Latent demand exists when there is willingness to purchase a good or service, but where the consumer lacks the purchasing power to be able to afford the product. Latent demand is affected by persuasive advertising - where the producer is seeking to influence consumer tastes and preferences.

Law of demand

The law of demand is that there is an inverse relationship between the price of a good and demand. As prices fall we see an expansion of demand. If price rises there should be a contraction of demand.

Local monopoly

A monopoly limited to a specific geographical area

Long run

Period of time in which all inputs may be varied but the basic technology of production is unchanged.


Manufacturing is the use of machines, tools and labour to make things for use or sale. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale

Marginal cost

Marginal cost is defined as the change in total costs resulting from increasing output by one unit. Marginal costs relate to variable costs only

Marginal revenue

The increase in revenue resulting from an additional unit of output

Market equilibrium

Equilibrium means a state of equality between demand and supply. Without a shift in demand and/or supply there will be no change in market price. Prices where demand and supply are out of balance are termed points of disequilibrium

Market failure

Market failure exists when the competitive outcome of markets is not efficient from the point of view of the economy as a whole. This is usually because the benefits that the market confers on individuals or firms carrying out a particular activity diverge from the benefits to society as a whole

Market incentives

Market signals that motivate economic actors to change their behaviour (perhaps in the direction of greater economic efficiency)

Market power

Market power refers to the ability of a firm to influence or control the terms and condition on which goods are bought and sold. Monopolies can influence price by varying their output because consumers have limited choice of rival products.

Market shortage

Where demand exceeds supply at a given price

Market supply

Market supply is the total amount of an item producers are willing and able to sell at different prices, over a given period of time egg one month. Industry, a market supply curve is the horizontal summation of all each individual firm's supply curves.

Maximum price

A legally-imposed maximum price in a market that suppliers cannot exceed - in an attempt to prevent the market price from rising above a certain level. To be effective a maximum price has to be set below the free market price

Means tested benefits

Welfare payments which are only paid to households who can prove they are poor

Merit good

A merit good is a product that society values and judges that everyone should have regardless of whether an individual wants them. In this sense, the government (or state) is acting paternally in providing merit goods and services

Minimum price

A legally imposed price floor below which the normal market price cannot fall. To be effective the minimum price has to be set above the normal equilibrium price. A good example of this is minimum wage legislation currently in force in the UK

Mixed economy

Where resources are partly allocated by the market and partly by the government


A single seller of a product in a given market or industry

Moral hazard

When people take actions that increase social costs because they are insured against private loss: sometimes it is called hidden action due to the agent's actions being hidden from the principal.


Humans have many different types of wants and needs e.g: economic, social and psychological. A need is essential for survival satisfies hungry people. A want is something desirable but not essential to survival e.g. cola quenches thirst

Negative externality

Negative externalities occur when production and/or consumption impose external costs on third parties outside of the market for which no appropriate compensation is paid. This causes social costs to exceed private costs

Niche market

A specialist section of a larger market e.g. hand-made chocolates

Non price competition

Competing not on the basis of price but by other means, such as the quality of the product, packaging, customer service, etc

Non-renewable resources

Non-renewable resources are resources which are finite and cannot be replaced. Minerals, fossil fuels and so on are all non-renewable resources

Non-rival consumption

Non-rivalry means that the consumption of a good by one person does not reduce the amount available for others. An example could be air. Non-rivalry is one of the key characteristics of a public good

Normal goods

Normal goods have a positive income elasticity of demand. Necessities have an income elasticity of demand of between 0 and +1. Luxuries have income elasticity > +1 demand rises more than proportionate to a change in income

Normative statements

Normative statements express an opinion about what ought to be. They are subjective statements statements - i.e. they carry value judgments. For example, the level of duty on petrol is too unfair and unfairly penalizes motorist


A specific target an organisation sets itself to achieve through its activity


A market dominated by a few large suppliers. Market concentration is high with typically the leading five firms taking over sixty per cent of total market sales.

Opportunity cost

The cost of any choice in terms of the next best alternative foregone.

Ostentatious consumption

Some goods are luxurious items where satisfaction comes from knowing both the price of the good and being able to flaunt consumption of it to other people!


Subcontracting a process, such as design or manufacturing, to another company

Overhead costs

Business costs–such as rent and utilities–that don't directly relate to the production or sale of goods and services

Pareto efficiency

In neoclassical economics, an action done in an economy that harms no one and helps at least one person. A situation is Pareto efficient if the only way to make one person better off is to make another person worse off.


Where access is restricted to users who have paid to subscribe to a website

Peak pricing

When a business raises prices at a time when demand is strongest

Penetration pricing

Where a firm choose to set a low price to gain market share / brand recognition

Persuasive advertising

Designed to manipulate consumer preferences and cause a change in demand

Perverse demand curve

A perverse demand curve is one which slopes upwards from left to right. Therefore an increase in price leads to an increase in demand. This may happen where goods are strongly affected by price expectations or in the case of Giffen goods

Planned economy

In a planned economy, decisions about what to produce, how much to produce and for whom are decided by central planners working for the government rather than allocated using the price mechanism.

Polluter pays principle

The government may choose to intervene in a market to ensure that the firms and consumers who create negative externalities include them when making their decisions egg first parties are forced to internalise external costs & benefits through indirect taxes.

Positional goods

Goods which are at least in part demanded because their possession or consumption implies social or other status of those acquiring them

Positive externalities

Positive externalities exist when third parties benefit from the spill-over effects of production/consumption e.g. the social returns from investment in education & training or the positive benefits from health care and medical research.

Positive statement

Objective statements that can be tested or rejected by referring to the available evidence. Positive economics deals with objective explanation. For example: “A rise in consumer incomes will lead to a rise in the demand for new cars." Or “A fall in the exchange rate will lead to an increase in exports overseas."

Poverty trap

The poverty trap affects people on low incomes. It creates a disincentive to look for work or work longer hours because of the effects of the tax and benefits system.


Our tastes, likes, rankings – e.g. I have a preference for organic foods and I prefer the Independent newspaper to the Guardian

Price elasticity of demand

Price elasticity of demand measures the responsiveness of demand for a product following a change in its own price.

Price elasticity of supply

Price elasticity of supply measures the relationship between change in quantity supplied and a change in price.

Price mechanism

The means by which decisions of consumers and businesses interact to determine the allocation of resources between different goods and services.

Price signals

Changes in price act as a signal about how resources should be allocated. A rise in price encourages producers to switch into making that good but encourages consumers to use an alternative substitute product (therefore rationing the product).

Private benefit

The rewards to individuals, firms or consumers from consuming or producing goods and services. Also known as internal benefits

Private cost

Costs of an economic activity to individuals and firms. Also known as internal costs.


Selling off a state run industry to the private sector

Producer surplus

The difference between what producers are willing and able to supply a good for and the price they actually receive. The level of producer surplus is shown by the area above the supply curve and below the market price.

Production function

Relationship between a firm's output and the quantities of factor inputs it employs

Production possibility frontier

A boundary that shows the combinations of two or more goods and services that can be produced using all available factor resources efficiently

Productive efficiency

The output of productive efficiency occurs when a business in a given market or industry reaches the lowest point of its average cost curve implying an efficient use of scarce resources and a high level of factor productivity.


A measure of efficiency = output per unit of input or output per person employed


Profits are made when total revenue exceeds total cost. Total profit = total revenue - total cost. Profit per unit supplied = price = average total cost

Property rights

Property rights confer legal control or ownership of a good. For markets to operate efficiently, property rights must be clearly defined and protected - perhaps through government legislation and regulation

Public bads

Public bads include environmental damage and global warming which affects everyone – no one is excluded from the dis-benefits

Public goods

Pure public goods are non-rival – consumption of the good by one person does not reduce the amount available for consumption by another person, and non-excludable – where it is not possible to provide a good or service to one person without it thereby being available for others to enjoy.

Public sector

Government organisations that provide goods and services in the economy - for example through state education and the national health service.

Purchasing power

A measure of money's value in terms of what it can buy. Purchasing power tends to change over time, mainly because of inflation.


A quota is a limit on the quantity of a product can be supplied to a market

Rational choice

'Rational choice' involves the weighing up of costs and benefits and trying to maximise the surplus of benefits over costs

Real wage

The real wage is the purchasing power of money wages


Measures taken by government to transfer income from some individuals to others

Regressive tax

A tax is said to be regressive when low income earners pay a higher proportion of their income in tax than high income earners

Relative poverty

Relative poverty measures the extent to which a household's financial resources falls below an average income threshold for the economy


Long-run production level achieved by a business


Scarce means limited. There is only a limited amount of resources available to produce the unlimited amount of goods and services we desire.

Self sufficiency

Where people meet their own wants and needs without producing a surplus to trade

Seller's market

A market where demand exceeds supply, allowing the sellers of a product to have greater control over prices, terms, etc. The opposite of a buyer's market.


A situation in which quantity demanded is greater than quantity supplied


Prices have a signalling function because the price in a market sends important information to producers and consumers

Social benefit

The benefit of production or consumption of a product for society as a whole. Social benefit = private benefit + external benefit

Social cost

The cost of production or consumption of a product for society as a whole. Social cost = private cost + external cost

Social efficiency

The socially efficient output is where Social Marginal Cost (SMC) = Social Marginal Benefit. (SMB)

Spare capacity

Where a firm or economy can produce more with existing resources. When there is plenty of spare capacity, elasticity of supply tends to be high


A method of production where a business or area focuses on the production of a limited scope of products or services to gain greater productive efficiency w


Speculation is the activity of buying a good or service in anticipation of a change in the price/market value e.g. currency or stock-market speculation

Spill-over effects

External effects of economic activity, which have an impact on outsiders who are not producing or consuming a product – these can be negative (creating external costs) or positive (creating external benefits)


Groups who have an interest in the activity of a business e.g. shareholders, managers, employees, suppliers, customers, government and local communities. Different stakeholders have different objectives e.g. owners want maximum profits, customers low prices and workers high wages and rising living standards.

State monopoly

A monopoly that is owned and managed by a government

State provision

Government-provided good or services - funded through tax revenue,in order to provide goods which have positive externalities or are public goods


Payments by the government to suppliers that reduce their costs. The effect of a subsidy is to increase supply and therefore reduce the market equilibrium price.


Goods in competitive demand and act as replacements for another product

Substitutes in production

A substitute in production is a product that could have been produced using the same resources. Take the example of barley. An increase in the price of wheat makes wheat growing more attractive. The pursuit of the profit motive may cause farmers to use land to grow wheat rather than barley.


Quantity of a good or service that a producer is willing and able to supply onto the market at a given price in a given time period.

Supply chain

Different stages of making, distributing and selling a good or service from the production of parts, through to distribution and sale of the product.

Supply shock

An event that directly alters firms' costs and prices shifting the supply curve either to the right (lower costs) or to the left (higher costs). Examples include unexpected changes in the global prices of commodities such as oil, gas and hard metals.


The preferences of consumers

Tax incidence

The manner in which the burden of an indirect tax is shared between participants in the market i.e. consumers and producers

Time lags

Time lags occur in production, particularly in agriculture, when decisions about the quantity to be produced are made well ahead of the actual sale. Demand and the price may change in the interval, creating a problem for the producer.

Tragedy of the Commons

When no one owns a resource, it gets over-used, for example fish stocks and deforestation - people use and benefit from it without regard to the effect on others

Transactions cost

Costs that parties incur in the process of agreeing and following through on a deal

Transfer payments

Government welfare benefits made available through the social security system

Value judgement

A view of the rightness or wrongness of something, based on a personal view.

Variable cost

Variable costs vary directly with output. I.e. as production rises, a firm will face higher total variable costs because it needs to purchase extra resources to achieve an expansion of supply. Common examples of variable costs or a business include the costs of raw materials, labour costs and consumables.

Willingness to pay

The maximum price a consumer is prepared pay to obtain a product

Market failure revision quiz

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Edexcel A Level Economics A (Year 2) Teacher Topic PowerPoints

A full set of exam-style and exam-standard practice papers for linear OCR A Level Economics (Papers 1,2 & 3)

£75.00 (+VAT)

OCR A Level Economics (Year 2) Practice Exam Papers


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