Terms Beginning With 'p'

Production Possibility Curve

What is the Production Possibility Curve or PPC?

A production possibility curve depicts the maximum output that can be produced in an economy with the given resources. The resources used to make these goods refer to the factors of production in the economy.

PPC may sometimes also be referred to as the production possibility frontier, or PPF. PPC depicts the trade-offs faced by producers in the economy. Due to the scarcity of resources, producers must allocate these resources into the production of those goods that derive maximum welfare.

For instance, consider an economy that can produce only two goods, given the resources that it is endowed with. The two goods produced are war machinery and bread. However, the producers must decide how much of each to produce. During a war, production of war equipment might increase; however, when the war ends, bread production would increase and therefore, production of war equipment must decrease because of limited availability of inputs.

How is the PPF represented graphically?

The above PPF represents the production possibilities in an economy that produces Good X and Good Y. A PPF would depict the trade-off between the production of only two goods at a time. Hence, a PPF can be graphically made for only two goods at a time.

Point A has an allocation of 35 units of Good X and 45 units of Good Y. Similarly, point B is a combination of 50 units of Good X and 28 units of Good Y. Both these points lie on the curve and neither outside of it, nor inside of it. Thus, they are efficient and achievable allocations for this economy.

Point C lies inside the PPC curve. This means that it is an inefficient allocation of resources. Point C fails to efficiently utilise the entire amount of labour, land, and capital that the economy possesses. Thus, if the resources were allocated more efficiently and used to the fullest, then the allocation would lie on the curve and not inside it.

Thus, points A and B are Pareto efficient allocations as it is not possible to increase the production of Good X without decreasing the production of Good Y. Whereas, point C is not a Pareto efficient allocation as it is possible to move to an allocation that has a higher production of both Good X and Good Y. This can be achieved by moving to point A or point B.

Any point lying outside the PPC curve is not attainable as the economy is not equipped with enough resources to produce that allocation of goods.

Why is the PPF concave to the origin?

The PPF is downward sloping because of the trade-off that exists between the production of the two goods depicted in the curve. Due to the limited availability of factor inputs, units of a good must be sacrificed to produce an additional unit of the other good.

In the example of Good X and Good Y given above, moving from point B to point A increases the quantity of Good Y produced; however, this shift simultaneously decreases the quantity of Good X produced.

However, this trade-off increases with the number of goods produced. Consider the following diagram:

Moving from allocation A to B, the production of Good Y increases by one unit, while the production of Good X decreases by two units. Thus, two units of Good X are foregone to produce one additional unit of Good Y.

Now, moving from allocation B to C, the production of Good Y increases by one unit as before; however, the production of Good X decreases by a higher volume of four units. Therefore, four units of Good X are foregone to produce one additional unit of Good Y.

Thus, the marginal opportunity cost of production of Good Y goes on increasing as more and more units of Good Y are produced. More and more units of one good must be sacrificed to produce an additional unit of the other good.

When does a PPC curve shift?

A PPC curve may shift upwards when there is increased investment, and there is a boost to the factors of production. Alternatively, PPC may shift inwards when there is a sudden decrease in the factors of production and the production capacity falls. This may happen during a natural disaster, or a medical emergency when several lives are lost.

An economy may underproduce in times of a recession. Thus, in the case of an economic slowdown, an economy might function at a point inside the PPC rather than at a point that lies on the curve.

However, these shifts may also be skewed to one side depending on the good that benefits from the increase in investment or through an increase in factors of production. For instance, consider the PPC when the trade-off exists between the production of consumer goods and technological devices. When there is an advancement in the IT sector then only the technological devices would benefit from it. Thus, the PPC shift would be skewed towards the production of technological devices as shown:

What does the PPC tell about the economy?

A PPC only tells how much of one good must be sacrificed to produce one unit of the other good. However, it does not describe how much of both goods must be produced in the economy. Thus, producers and the government must decide on how much to produce.

In a free market, the law of demand and law of supply govern the quantity of goods produced. The PPF ultimately determines the amount of supply in the economy. However, it can not determine the demand level in the economy. Therefore, PPC is one of the prime tools used in macroeconomics to determine the aggregate supply level and determine whether the economy is functioning efficiently or not.

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.

What is the Dark Web?  The dark web is one such portion of the World Wide Web which is not accessible by regular search engines. The dark web is considered a hotbed for criminal activities, and it is much more than that. Various websites exist on an encrypted network inside the dark web. Standard web browsers and programs cannot find these websites. Once inside the dark web, different sites and pages can be accessed like one does on the web. Scientists believe that the internet we see is only 4% of the entire ocean of the web, meaning the 96% consists of the "Deep and Dark Web".  The user interface used in the dark web is usually internet-based, but it utilises special software which is not part of the standard ones. There are dozens of web browsers to surf the internet, but they all work in the same way. These standard browsers use ports and protocols to request, transfer and view data on the Internet. The website you access may look familiar, but as you enter, it may be illegal or something familiar but otherwise not monitored by anyone else. Therefore, the deep web and the dark web are famous for being anonymous. Also read: Cyber Espionage Campaign: Strings that tie China, Australia and the US How to access dark web browser? In order to access a few areas which are restricted, the user may need a password and a process to follow. A special software called TOR (The Onion Router) or the Freenet has these non-standard connections. These browsers are unlike standard internet browsers and have a process to access. They allow the users to browse around the dark web and are focused on keeping the user identity anonymous. If hacked or accessed, the regular web browser can easily provide user information such as who the user is and whereabouts. Though the dark web is providing 100% anonymity, federal agencies have been successful in tracking down criminal activities on the dark web. It is often said that the person you are talking to on the dark web could either be an FBI agent or a criminal. Image: Kalkine   What happens inside the world of the dark web?  The dark web is famous for allowing sinister activities, but many users go on the dark web to access information which otherwise may not be accessible on standard internet. Such as users from extremely oppressive governments who cut access to the world for their citizens. Unfortunately, such confidential environments also provide open platforms to criminals, terrorists and other such individuals involved in illegal activities.   Hence, experts advise users to not access the dark web even out of curiosity as it is a lawless environment. There have been many incidents where innocent, curious users were trapped and forced to get involved in criminal activities or their digital devices hacked and compromised without their knowledge.  A study conducted by a University of Surrey researcher Dr Michael McGuires in 2019, Into the Web of Profit, shows that the dark web has become worse in recent times. Since 2016 of all the listings on the dark web suggested, 60% could harm companies. Everything illegal and criminal can be found on the dark web, it also has other legitimate options such as chess clubs or book clubs, but because of the anonymity, the user will not know whom he/she is interacting with. Inside the dark web, anonymity and lawless nature make the crimes which exist otherwise in our society hard to trace.  The payment procedure inside the dark web is also different from the World Wide Web. Most often, Bitcoin and Monero cryptocurrency are used for the transactions.    RELATED READ: Knock Knock! Cybercriminal at Your Doorstep   What’s the difference between the deep web and dark web? The dark web is part of the entire deep web and is hidden from regular browsing access. Most people confuse the deep web and the dark web as one entity. It is not. The deep web content includes anything hidden and restricted behind the security wall such as content which otherwise requires paywall or sign-in or blocked by the author. Content which cannot be easily accessible on regular internet such as medical records, membership websites, paid content are available on the deep web; hence it is also called Invisible Web.  No one really knows the total size of the internet, but the experts believe that the standard World Wide Web consists of only 4% internet, the deep web consists of 90% and dark web consists of 6% of the entire internet.  ALSO READ: Technology has changed the way we work amid the COVID-19 crisis: A look at in-demand technologies Image: Kalkine     Also read: It happens again, NZX being bullied by Cyber-attackers- Down for the fourth day   What kind of risk companies face due to the dark web?  The Into the Web of Profit report listed below threats various organisations around the world are facing, especially the ones who have weak or insufficient cybersecurity measures.   Malware attacks Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks Botnets Trojan, keyloggers, exploits  Espionage  Credentials access  Phishing  Refunds Customer data Operational data Financial data Intellectual property/ trade secrets    Also read: Cybersecurity and the Requirement of a Resilient Environment in Australia  Are there advantages and disadvantages to the dark web?  The dark web provides complete anonymity, the users get complete privacy to perform any activity, be it illegal or legal. Many countries in the world still have authoritarian regimes offering no civil rights to their people. To such oppressed lot, the dark web provides an opportunity to access news, information, data and also express their views. The dark web is also a perfect place for law agencies to map criminal activities while being undercover. It is also easy to commit gruesome crimes through the dark web as it is complicated and lawless. Criminals can easily use the dark web to compromise someone's privacy, steal data or private information or even hire someone to commit murder.  Do internet users need to be concerned about the dark web?  The simple answer is no unless the user is using the dark web. Study says that most young people visit the dark web out of curiosity. They do not want to indulge in any criminal activity but want to see how the hidden and secret world of the dark web operates. And that is where the possibility of the electronic device IP address getting hacked by other criminals to perform their criminal activities lies.  The earliest use of darknet dates back to the year 2000. Freenet was created at the University of Edinburgh based on a student research paper. Ian Clark wrote the paper in 1999 on the possibility of such an encrypted internet base. Freenet was created to oppose censorship and provide a platform for free speech. The most powerful dark web is TOR, and it was created by the United States government to have a secure encrypted communication in case of emergency and complete disaster. Even today, many law agencies are secretly active inside the world of the dark web to gain access in the criminal world and stay one step ahead.

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. 

This is basically a renowned measure of statistics. It evaluates the possibility of a couple of events taking place jointly and at the exact point in time.

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