10.2 Competitive Equilibrium
(A) MR = MC rule: Equilibrium of a firm
is a condition where profits are maximized. The analytical condition
of equilibrium is stated as a point of equality between Marginal
Revenue and Marginal Cost. It ensures the profit as
Profitmax
= TR  TCmax where MR
= MC
i.e. the difference between Total Revenue and Total Cost. (TR  TC) is maximized automatically when this condition is satisfied. This MR = MC rule is equally applicable to a competitive or monopolistic or oligopolistic or any other form of the market. This can be explained with the help of a figure.
In Figure 33, P  AR = MR is the demand or Average
and Marginal Revenue curve. AC is the Average Cost curve and MC
the Marginal Cost curve. Point e is the point of intersection
of AC and MC; hence at the minimum point on AC there is equality
between MR and MC. Therefore e is the point of equilibrium
where profits are maximized. At the equilibrium point market price
is P and output produced is Q. For any other output level, profits
cannot be further increased. For a smaller output level Q1
the point on the Marginal Revenue curve R1
is above the point e1
on the Marginal Cost curve. Hence to the left of point e
so long as MR > MC a firm can gain more profits by increasing
output and by moving in the direction of point e. On the
other hand, if a firm tries to produce a larger output Q2
then Marginal Cost C2
exceeds Marginal Revenue R2
(MC > MR) and the firm makes some losses. These losses can be
avoided only by restricting output and by moving in the direction
of point e. Hence we conclude that e is the point
of equilibrium which alone can help to maximize the profits of a
firm. Note that the firm is operating under competitive market conditions.
It earns only normal profits which are included in the average cost
of the production curve AC. We have therefore marked AC as AC +
NP curve. In a competitive market, a firm will be in equilibrium
at a point e where all the four variables are equal.
MR = MC = AR = AC.
A firm in such equilibrium earns only normal profit.
AC = AC + NP
[next page]
