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Economic Profit (or Loss)


Economic profit (or loss) is a financial indicator representing the difference between a firm’s total revenue and its explicit and implicit costs, including opportunity costs. It assesses the financial performance of a business while taking into account the cost of resources used in production and alternative investments. A positive economic profit signifies that a firm is allocating resources efficiently, while a negative economic profit indicates that the firm could be utilizing its resources more effectively elsewhere.


The phonetics for the keyword “Economic Profit (or Loss)” can be transcribed as follows:Economic Profit (or Loss): /ɪˌkɑː.nəˈmɪk ˈprɒf.ɪt (ɔr lɔs)/

Key Takeaways

  1. Economic Profit (or Loss) is a financial metric that measures the difference between the revenue generated by a business and the sum of its implicit and explicit costs. It provides a more comprehensive view of a company’s profitability than accounting profit.
  2. In the calculation of economic profit, both opportunity costs (implicit costs) and explicit costs are considered, making it a vital tool for decision-making, as it helps to determine the true profitability and viability of a project or business endeavor.
  3. A positive economic profit indicates that a business is generating returns above its required rate of return, which is the minimum return necessary to justify an investment. Conversely, a negative economic profit implies that a business is not generating sufficient returns to cover its costs, which may indicate the need for strategic adjustments or even the consideration of exiting the market.


Economic profit (or loss) is an important financial term in business and finance, as it provides a more comprehensive understanding of an enterprise’s financial health. Unlike accounting profit, which simply considers a firm’s total revenues and explicit expenses, economic profit takes into account both explicit and implicit costs, such as opportunity costs and the cost of equity. By recognizing these additional factors, economic profit enables decision-makers to better assess their operations, resource allocation, and investment choices. It serves as a valuable barometer of not just a company’s profitability, but also its overall efficiency and viability in the competitive market landscape. Ultimately, the concept of economic profit assists in facilitating productive business strategies and maximizing long-term financial success.


Economic profit (or loss) serves as an essential measure for businesses seeking to evaluate how efficiently they are utilizing scarce resources to maximize returns, as well as determining if they are earning or losing capital in the long run. By comparing a firm’s financial gains to the opportunity costs incurred during the production process, economic profit offers valuable insights into overall performance and the effectiveness of management decisions. This comprehensive tool assists firms in making informed, data-driven choices when it comes to investing resources in operations, projects, or alternative opportunities. Consequently, businesses are enabled to maintain a competitive edge, continuously improve their processes, and grow as they work to achieve sustainable profitability. Furthermore, the concept of economic profit sparks innovation and resource allocation efficiency within a market economy, resulting in a more progressive and dynamic business landscape. One of the key applications of economic profit lies in its capacity to highlight inefficient operations that require rectification, resource reallocation, or discontinuation if a firm is consistently experiencing loss. This market-driven feedback mechanism steers businesses towards enhancing operations and achieving higher productivity levels, ensuring that scarce resources are optimally leveraged to create the most value. In summary, economic profit plays a multifaceted role in business and finance, achieving and sustaining success by optimizing resource utilization and promoting innovation within the market.


1. Apple Inc.’s iPhone Business – A Positive Economic Profit: Apple Inc. is known for its high-profit margins on its iPhone products. Its revenue from the sale of iPhones exceeds the total cost of producing and selling the devices, including the opportunity cost of using resources in alternative industries. Apple has a successful track record of generating significant economic profit from its iPhone products. 2. General Motors (GM) during the 2008 financial crisis – A Negative Economic Profit (Loss): During the 2008 financial crisis, General Motors faced dire financial problems. Poor sales, high operating costs, and inefficiencies resulted in expenses that exceeded their revenues. Also, the opportunity cost of not investing in alternative industries, such as electric vehicles, further hurt their financial situation. As a result, GM faced a substantial economic loss during this period, eventually leading to bankruptcy and a government bailout. 3. Amazon – Economic Profit through Scale and Efficiency: Amazon has achieved substantial economic profit by leveraging its economies of scale, technological innovation, and efficient supply-chain management. Their online marketplace platform allows them to have lower costs than traditional brick-and-mortar competitors, and their efficient use of resources enables them to offer lower prices to consumers. The company’s ability to expand into various industries while still being innovative and cost-efficient reflects its strong economic profit.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Economic Profit (or Loss)?
Economic Profit (or Loss) is a performance measure that compares a business’s profit to the opportunity costs of its invested resources. It’s calculated by subtracting implicit costs from a company’s accounting profit. If the result is positive, it’s called an economic profit, while a negative result indicates an economic loss.
How is Economic Profit (or Loss) different from Accounting Profit (or Loss)?
Accounting Profit (or Loss) represents the revenue generated by a company minus its explicit costs, such as wages, rent, and materials. Economic Profit (or Loss), on the other hand, takes into consideration both explicit and implicit costs, providing a more comprehensive perspective on a company’s financial performance.
What are implicit costs?
Implicit costs, also known as opportunity costs, are the costs of using resources that a business already owns. They represent the potential benefits that could have been gained if those resources were used in the next-best alternative way. Implicit costs can include forgone interest, foregone rental income, and lost potential earnings from an alternative investment.
How do you calculate Economic Profit (or Loss)?
To calculate Economic Profit (or Loss), follow this formula:Economic Profit (or Loss) = Accounting Profit – Implicit Costs
What is the significance of Economic Profit (or Loss) in making business decisions?
Economic Profit (or Loss) provides a more accurate assessment of a company’s performance as it considers the opportunity costs of resources used. This helps business owners and managers evaluate whether they are efficiently using their resources and maximizing value. A positive economic profit indicates that a company is creating more value than its next-best alternative, while a negative economic profit suggests that the company should consider reallocating its resources to more profitable opportunities.
Can a business have a positive Accounting Profit but a negative Economic Profit?
Yes, it’s possible for a business to have a positive Accounting Profit but a negative Economic Profit. This occurs when the implicit costs of a company’s resources exceed the additional revenue generated, indicating that the business isn’t allocating its resources efficiently and would have been better off investing those resources elsewhere.
What can a business do if it experiences an Economic Loss?
If a business experiences an Economic Loss, it can take several steps to improve its performance, such as reassessing its operations, reallocating resources, reducing expenses, increasing revenue, or pursuing more efficient investment opportunities. It’s crucial to regularly analyze the company’s financial performance and adjust business strategies to optimize the use of available resources.

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