Terms Beginning With 'f'

Factor Endowment

  • November 04, 2020
  • Team Kalkine

What is meant by factor endowment?

Factor endowment refers to the factors of production that are available with a country to carry out production. Factor endowments differ from country to country and from territory to territory. Some countries may have more endowments of factors of productions while others may not have a lot of them.

These factors of production include land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship. They can be exploited for the manufacturing of goods and services. Thus, a nation with a higher level of factor endowment is wealthier than a nation with lesser factor endowment.

Abundance of resources may also help nations in achieving relative competitiveness and specialise in one good. Factor endowment is also sometimes referred to as factors of production. Both are similar; however, the term ‘endowment’ only refers to the quantity of the factors of production available with a nation.

Endowment refers to the quantity of any resource available to be utilised by individuals, firms, or nations. For an individual, endowment refers to the bequest left over by their parents, grandparents, or any family member after their demise.

How does a nation benefit from factor endowment?

Nations that are abundant in goods can benefit from them as they are inputs in the manufacturing of goods and services. With the availability of factor inputs, countries do not have to depend on imports to carry out production.

Also, countries that have land, labour and capital are more likely to see a better performance of human capital as well. Nations that are not wealthy are less likely to have proper educational institutions, healthcare services and the correct tools to aid the human capital. Therefore, factor endowments open many other channels that help in production.

Overall, this makes a country competitive and more self-sufficient rather than import dependent. It also enables the country to export to other nations at competitive levels.

What is the factor endowment theory?

Factor endowment theory depends on the fact that countries have different ratios of capital to labour. This difference in the ratios allows them to specialise in different goods. For instance, a country that has a higher ratio of capital to labour would be efficient in the production of capital-intensive goods. Similarly, countries that have a lesser ratio of capital to labour would be efficient in the production of labour-intensive goods.

This is called comparative advantage. As countries enjoy efficient production in one good, they can export it and they can simultaneously import the good in which they are inefficient.

Trade theory by Heckscher-Ohlin suggests that the cost of production differs across countries due to the difference in the supply of the factors of production.  Hence, this theory suggests that there is no absolute advantage that countries enjoy, rather there is relative advantage which enables nations to export one good and import another.

Factor endowment ratios are prone to change. As countries advance it might be possible that countries gain advantage in goods that they were previously not advantaged in.

What are the problems with factor endowment theory?

Factor endowment theory only accounts for a small percentage of the world trade. For instance, consider the case of the United States and East Asia. Many East Asian countries are labour abundant, but they started growing at a much faster rate than the US. However, it was observed that as both started to become more like each other in terms of the availability of factors, trade grew between them. This is contradictory to the factor endowment theory.

This points to the fact that there are other factors influencing the trade between them rather than the availability of resources. Thus, factor endowment theory fails to apply to the practical world. It also does not account for the technological differences between two countries. Therefore, it is not the absolute basis of trade for countries.

However, the factor endowment theory is still applicable in some instances. For instance, countries that are abundant in labour like Bangladesh and India are high exporters of manufactured clothing, which is a labour intensive good. Similarly, Middle Eastern countries are abundant in oil and thus are major exporters of it. The US is considered as a capital abundant nation and thus it is efficient in the production of machinery and sees high exports of the same.

What is an Absolute Advantage? Absolute advantage is one of the key macroeconomic terms, which is based on the principles of Capitalism and is often utilised in international trade-related decisions. Absolute advantage refers to the competence of a company, region or country to produce goods or services in an efficient manner compared to any other economic entity. The efficiency in production can be achieved by: Production of the same quantity of good or services as produced by other entity by utilising fewer amount of resources Production of a higher quantity of good or services as produced by other entity by using the same amount of resources What is the Significance of Absolute Advantage? Different countries or businesses possess a different set of ability owing to their location, soil composition, weather, infrastructure, or human resource skills. When applied in the right direction, various factors may pan out to offer more cost-effectiveness and hence build absolute advantage of the entity in comparison to others.  The absolute advantage remains one of the critical determinants for the choice of the goods or services to be produced. Absolute advantage in a particular area often translates into profitability in the area. The profit margin increases by the achievement of cost efficiency, allowing the entity to ensure higher profitability over the competitors.  For example, let us assume that the US can produce ten high-quality aircrafts utilising a specific amount of resources. China, on the other hand, can build 6 similar quality aircrafts using the same amount of resources. Thus, in the production of an aircraft, the US holds Absolute Advantage Let’s say the US has the ability to manufacture a certain amount of steel using 10 tonnes of iron ore. China, on the other hand, can produce the same quantity of steel using 8 tonnes of iron ore.Here, China here holds Absolute Advantage in the production of steel.  How Countries Build Absolute Advantage? While natural conditions, which include climatic factors, geometry, topography, cannot be altered for achieving absolute advantage, the countries use the underlying factors strategically in their favour. Furthermore, factors of production are focused at by many companies or nations for building absolute advantages.  Some of the strategies for building absolute advantage includes: Development of Technological Competencies- The implementation of innovative or latest technological innovations allows the entities to lower their production cost, facilitating absolute advantage.  Enhancing Skills of Human Resources- The improvement in the cost-efficiency, along with the quality of the products, is targeted through imparting varying skill development programs. Many countries subsidize or aid the apprentice or labour training for enhancing the absolute advantage in trade.  Improving Infrastructure- The infrastructure enhancement in the form of road, telecommunications, ports, etc. can be useful in enhancing the cost-effectiveness across different industries.  What Do We Understand by Comparative Advantage Vs Absolute Advantage? Evaluating the comparative advantage introduces the concept of opportunity cost, which is the deciding factor to determine the production of particular goods or services. Opportunity cost refers to the potential benefits associated with the next best possible alternative which is missed out when one option is chosen over another.  The Absolute advantage simply considers the capability of a business or region to deliver goods or services in the most efficient manner. The Comparative Advantage, however, also takes into account the benefits that are forgone if an entity decides for production of a particular product or services.  Comparative advantage, based on the notion of mutual benefits, is often used in international trade deals. The Comparative advantage has been the major factor driving the outsourcing of services in search of cheap labour.  Understanding through an Example For instance, country A can produce ten televisions with the same amount of resources with which it can make 7 laptops. The opportunity cost per television is 7/10 or 0.7 laptops. Meanwhile, the opportunity cost per laptop is 10/7 or 1.42 television.  It highlights that country A is forsaking the production of 0.7 laptops if it is deciding to manufacture one television. On the other hand, it is missing out the opportunity to manufacture 1.42 televisions for every single laptop manufactured.  Now, say Country B’s opportunity cost for producing a television is 0.5 laptop, and that of producing laptop is 2 televisions. Then, country B will have a comparative advantage in making televisions, and country A will have comparative advantage in producing laptops. It has to be noted that despite country A having absolute advantages in both the products, it would be mutually beneficial for both the countries if country B produces television while country A produces laptops. Do You Know About Absolute Advantage Theory by Adam Smith? The concept of Absolute Advantage was indicated by Adam Smith in his book called ‘Wealth of Nations’ which focusses on International trade theory. Adam Smith, in his book attacked on the previous mercantilism theory, which mainly stressed for economies to maintain trade surplus in order to command power.  The Absolute Advantage theory considered that the countries possess different ability with respect to the production of varying goods or services. It argued that it is not necessary that a state may hold an absolute advantage in the production of all goods, and here the relevance of trade comes into play.  It advocates that countries should produce those goods over which they hold a competitive advantage. It would allow the countries to make the same amount of goods using few resources or in less time. The theory propagates the relevance of trade for economic sustainability.  What Are the Limitations of the Absolute Advantage Theory? The assumptions used in the Absolute Advantage Theory by Adam Smith may limit the application in real bilateral trade. The limitations of the theory by Adam Smith include: Smith assumed that the productive capabilities of a country could not be transferred between the two countries. However, in practical terms, the competitive scenario aids the nations to acquire new capabilities and acquire new resources, especially in the technological and human resource skill aspects.  The two-country trade which was used as a basis for the theory does not consider the trade barriers levied. The present scenario, however, is strikingly dominated by trade wars between economies. Nations impose huge tariffs, import duties and other type of barriers to promote local manufacturers.  Absolute Advantage theory assumes that the trade between the two nations will take place only if each of the two economies holds an absolute advantage in one of the commodities traded. However, in general, countries despite not holding absolute advantage are engrossed in international trade, boosting their economic setup.

Net amount after factoring in all debits and credits in a financial repository at a given moment. If an account balance drops below zero, it demonstrates a net debt.

An earnings announcement is a public statement of a company’s earnings, usually done on a periodic basis. These official announcements are released quarterly or yearly to inform the investors and the market about a company’s financial performance. Companies announce their financial reports through press releases on their websites and list them on the stock exchanges website. After the information is released through a conference call, there is a question-and-answer round with the senior management in which analysts, media, and investors can participate. On the basis of the report, analysts then incorporate earning measures such as EPS (Earning Per Share). These reports help investors in making sound investment decisions. Earnings results are announced during the earnings season on a date chosen by the company. Stock prices of the companies take a swing before and after the company releases its earnings report. Equity analysts also predict earnings estimates through their analysis which drives stock prices movement due to speculations. Stock prices even move after the earning results are declared, up or down, depending on how the results have turned out. Source: Copyright © 2021 Kalkine Media Pty Ltd. When are earning announcements made? It is mandatory for every listed company to report its quarterly financial results in the US but not in Australia. In Australia, companies release their financial report on a semi-annual basis. Having said that, many Australian companies also update their shareholders quarterly, but these are not considered official earnings. These quarterly reports are released to satisfy the market demand for information and to disclose the company’s guidance on its performance. The financial calendar varies from country to country and therefore, the earnings season changes as well. In the US, the earnings season starts after the final month of the financial quarter. Usually, American companies start posting their earnings reports in January, April, July, and October. In Australia, companies report twice a year, usually around February and August, or May and October. It depends upon the company’s financial cycle. However, whether quarterly in the US or semi-annually in Australia, these earnings results are required as agreed while listing the company with the stock exchanges. Source: Copyright © 2021 Kalkine Media Pty Ltd. Why are earnings announcements necessary? Financial results help investors, media, and other stakeholders of the company to have a greater understanding of the company’s financial footing. Companies not just provide sales, operating profit, net profits, but also offer guidance and outlook for coming months. Additionally, these reports also have senior management statements directed at the market. Therefore, earning announcements act as an informative document for the investors and analysts to study and gauge a company’s performance. Analysts can provide earnings estimates, and investors can then take wise investment decisions. These documents are also vital for companies when it comes to seeking funding for the business. Financial institutions can also judge a company’s financial health by evaluating earnings reports. The management offers insights on growth drivers, risk factors, etc that impacted the earnings during that particular period. Analysts also assess the earnings results, taking into account the external factors that drove the growth or impacted the firm negatively. These factors could be mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies, economic discrepancies, policy changes, etc. For investors, earnings reports are essential because these announcements swing the price up or down. Traders keep a keen eye on these reports as it can be a time when they can confirm positions. However, some investors also avoid earnings seasons because of the involvement of various human factors.

What is depreciation? Depreciation is an accounting method used to allocate the cost of a tangible asset to the books of accounts over the useful life of the asset. It is essentially the accounting for wear and tear on the asset over its useful life.  Depreciation also refers to the value of the asset that has been used over time. Assets of a firm that are used for over a one-year period largely include physical assets. Although firms incur expense while purchasing these assets, the expenses are not charged in the income statement.  Such assets are recorded in the balance sheet of the firm and are expensed on the income statement as depreciation expense over time during the life of the asset. The tax authorities also decide the useful life of assets because overstating depreciation expense can lower tax liability.  Now assets come in two variety: tangible assets and intangible assets. As the name suggests tangible, the tangible assets can be touched, such as equipment, machinery, computers, vehicles etc. Depreciation is used to expense the tangible assets of a firm.  Intangible assets cannot be touched and include assets like licenses, copyrights, patents, brand names, logos etc. Amortisation of assets is an accounting method similar to depreciation used to expense intangible assets.  Long-term assets are the source of generating revenue for firms over a long period of time, therefore the cost of acquiring tangible long-term assets is not expensed fully at the time of purchases and is expensed over the life of the asset.  As the asset is used over periods, the carrying value of an asset in the balance sheet is reduced over time. Carrying value of an asset is the original cost minus accumulated depreciation on the asset over time.  Since the cost of acquiring the long-term tangible asset is not expensed fully at the time of purchase and is expensed over its useful life, the depreciation expense is a non-cash charge because actual cash outgo was incurred at the time of purchase.  But depreciation expense reduces the reported earnings of the company as it is charged on the income statement of the firm. Since the expenses are deducted from the revenue of the firm, the tax liability of the firm is also reduced.  What are the methods of depreciation? Straight-line method The straight-line method is the most common method of depreciating an asset over its life. Under this method, the recurring depreciating amount of the asset remains constant and is not changed over the life of the asset.  For example, a firm buys a machine for $10000 with a salvage value of $2000, and the useful life of the asset is ten years. The depreciable value of the asset will be $8000, which is the cost of machine minus salvage value.  Now the firm will depreciate the $8000 each year at a rate of $800 per year. The per-year depreciation charge of $800 is the depreciable value of the asset divided by the useful life of the asset (8000/10).  Double declining balance depreciation method  It is an accelerated type of depreciation method. Under this method, the depreciation expense in higher in the beginning years and gradually reduces over the life of an asset. It also reflects that assets are more valuable in the early years of production compared to later years.  In this method, the subsequent depreciation charges after the initial charge are calculated using the ending balance of the asset in the last period. Ending balance of the asset is the original cost of the asset less accumulated depreciation. Also, the depreciation factor in this method is twice of the straight-line method. Depreciation expense = (100%/Useful life of asset) x 2 Why is depreciation due diligence important? Depreciation can be used to manipulate the financials of the company. Overstating and understating depreciation charges directly impacts the profit of the company. When a firm is charging less depreciation than required, it would directly increase the profits of the firm.  When depreciation expense is lesser than the actual expense, the income statement will record lower amount of expenses, therefore the deductions from revenue will lesser and profits will increase.  Investors also assess whether the useful life of asset used in calculating the depreciation of firm is appropriate or not. The companies should use an appropriate useful life of the asset. When the useful life of the asset is increased, the depreciation charges will spread across an increased number of years.  As a result, the depreciation expenses during the life of an asset would be understated since the actual life of an asset is less than recorded. Investors prefer checking the number of years used as the useful life of an asset.  Sometimes firms may choose to change the method of depreciation. Although it could be appropriate when actual business conditions don’t match the method adopted, there remains a possibility that the decision to change the method could be driven by the motive to manipulate depreciation expenses.  Companies may seek to keep the assets in the balance sheet even though the asset is of no use. This will help the company to keep incurring depreciation expense on the income statement and reduce the tax liability of the business.  When the value of assets of the company has appreciated in light of the market environment, the balance sheet value of the asset will also increase. When the balance sheet value of an asset is increased, the depreciation charges should also increase. Therefore, appreciation in the value of an asset should also increase depreciation expense for the company. 

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