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Retail / Economic surplus

Economic surplus

The term surplus is used in economics for several related quantities. The consumer surplus is the amount that consumers benefit by being able to purchase a product for a price that is less than they would be willing to pay. The producer surplus is the amount that producers benefit by selling at a market price that is higher than they would be willing to sell for.

If the government intervenes, using, for example, a tax or a subsidy, then the graph of supply and demand becomes more complicated and will also include an area that represents government surplus.

Combined, the consumer surplus, the producer surplus, and the government surplus (if present) make up the social surplus or the total surplus. Total surplus is the primary measure used in Welfare Economics to evalutate the efficiency of a proposed policy.

A basic technique of bargaining for both parties is to pretend that their surplus is less than it really is: sellers may argue that the price they asks hardly leaves them any profit, while customers may play down how eager they are to have the article.

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