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Graphing Straight Line Supply and Demand Equations and Solving Sets of Equations
Basics Many students have problems graphing simple straight line demand and supply equations. There are many shapes of demand curves, but in Eco 101 and 102 we usually use straight line demand curves, like the one below. In high school you learned that y = mx + b, and graphed the dependent variable y on the vertical axis with b often being the intercept on the vertical axis. X was the independent variable on the horizontal axis with coefficient m determining how fast y changed with a change in x. Thus, m is also the slope of the line y = mx + b with respect to the xaxis.
Why is P (the apparently independent variable) on the Yaxis and Q (the apparently dependent variable) on the Xaxis, The way economists present supply and demand in economics often confuses students, because it looks like we have reversed the vertical and horizontal axes. In part, that is because when we graph supply and demand functions, usually, what looks like the dependent variable Q or quantity is graphed on the horizontal axis (a custom that started over 100 years ago) and what looks like the independent variable P or price is on the vertical axes of a traditional Cartesian graph. As OPEC, the oil cartel, knows, reducing a fixed quantity of crude oil supplied to the market increases its price. Here it seems that Q is the independent variable which determines P making it a dependent variable. In fact it is neither; it is only one blade of a pair of scissors.
In his 1870 essay "On the Graphical Representation of Supply and Demand", HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleeming_Jenkin" \o "Fleeming Jenkin" Fleeming Jenkin drew for the first time the popular graphic of supply and demand which, through HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supply_and_demand" Marshall, eventually would turn into the most famous graphic in economics. HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supply_and_demand" Alfred Marshall (born 26 July 1842 in Bermondsey, London, England, died 13 July 1924 in Cambridge, England) was an English economist and one of the most influential economists of his time. His book, Principles of Economics (1890), brings the ideas of HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supply_and_demand" \o "Supply and demand"supply and demand, of marginal utility and of the costs of production into a coherent whole. It became the dominant economic textbook in England for a long period. This essay in HYPERLINK "http://www.wikipedia.com" www.wikipedia.com is very informative.
. In fact, P and Q are determined simultaneously by solving a set of equations (describe below) to get an equilibrium P* and Q*. The asterisk * denotes an equilibrium. Here, in a perfectly competitive market equilibrium means that at the equilibrium price P*, all the buyers are able buy the quantity they want at that price Qd*(Pb *) and sellers are ale to sell the quantity they want at that price Qs*(Ps*). No buyer or seller is welling to buy more or sell more at that market clearing price. Initially we assume that the price paid by the buyer (P*b) is the price received by the seller(P*s).
As OPEC, the oil cartel, knows, reducing a fixed quantity of crude oil supplied to the market increases it price. It seems that Q can be the independent variable and P is the dependent variable. (Actually, if you graph P & Q on the other axes, it is not wrong, it just wont correspond to what you see in most textbooks and in class). Maybe it is clearer if you known that the equation Qd = 100 2Pob is the same inverse demand function Pob = 50 1/2 Q. This representation of the demand curve is sometimes called the inverse function of the normal demand function and is useful for fining the choke price at which all the buyers are rationed out of this market, e.g., where Qd = 0.
Graphing the Demand function for oil (millions barrels/day)
You also learned that you need only two points to graph any equation for a straight line but finding two good points and plotting them often presents a challenge to students. Here is a straightline demand function for oil.. For demand functions this process is usually quite easy.
Qd = 100 2Pob
Here are some hints for graphing and choosing scales. First of all, you need to choose the units for each axis. Set the corner of the upper right quadrant equal to zero. We use an arithmetic scale, so that equal distance on the scale should equal the same arithmetic change in the variable. (Do you remember log scales on graphs/)
1. Put Q on the horizontal axis
2. Find the maximum Q. How? Since Qd= 100 2P, set P = 0. This gives us our maximum Q of 100 so we can place 100 toward to right end of the Q axos/.
3. Its easiest to divide the remaining distance in (50) and then subdivide the rest in to equally spaced units. If you have graph paper, these units may be 2 or 3 or even 4 squares each, depending on how large you draw your graph.
4. To find the second point of the demand curve, if possible find the maximum demand choke price on the yaxis intercept.at which Q = 0. Find the Chokeprice by setting Q=0 in the demand equation or in the inverse demand equation. And solve for P . When Q = 0, P =50. Now connect the two points. Just to check, you may want to calculate another Q for a P lower then 50: lets try P=30. Q= 100  2*30 = 40. Plot the point. It should fall on your demand curve.
Now lets plot the supply function.
Supply function for oil (millions barrels/day) Qs = 20 + 4Pos
Oops? That negative intercept of 20 on the xaxis. Well, no problem. Really we want to find the minimum price at which suppliers start to be willing to sell goods in this market. It is called the start up price. To find the start up price it, set Q = 0 and solve for Pos. (You could rearrange the supply function into an inverse supply function to make it easier. Pos = 5 + 1/4Q.) Either way we find that the startup price is 5, the first point on our supply graph. Of course, to supply the first unit the producers or suppliers have to get a bit more than this to start supplying a positive amount.
We need a second point for Qs. Start by trying the choke price and if that takes you way beyond the scale of the graph, try a Qs about of that. In this case, 50 would take us way off the scale, so we are going to try Ps = 25. Plugging that into the supply function we get Ps = 100, perfect! Now connect the two with your ruler and find out where the supply curve intersects the demand curve, this intersection point is the equilibrium price and quantity. It intersects the demand graph at Q =60 and P = 20. Those are the same answers we would find algebraically.
Qd= 100 2P
Buy or use a pad of inch lined graph paper.
Name___________________________ Class_______ Date_______________ Due Tuesday Feb. 15
Graphing Supply and Demand Curves
Including a constant shift (y or xintercept) and
where the coefficient of the independent variable changes.
Hand in these problems. Blueberries are sold in a perfectly competitive market. The marginal cost incurred by the seller rises as they try to produce more blueberries (less good land is available and they use more labor on their available land.). So the supply curve slopes upward. The demand curve is a normal downward sloping demand curve with both an xintercept and a y intercept. That means that at some (high) price, people stop buying blueberries, and even if the price fell to zero, people would not eat an infinite number of blueberries. Assume that the price paid by the buyer Pb is the same as the price received by the seller Ps, so we can talk about one price P
1. The demand and supply equations are the following:
Qd = 800 20P Qs = 100 + 10P Market clearing occurs when Qd(P*) = Qs(P*)
Solve algebraically and plot graphically for the marketclearing price and quantity and hand in.
2. Demand for blueberries shifts outward by 300 at every price. Solve and plot on the same graph as #1 the new marketclearing price and quantity.
3. Looking at problem #2, lets assume that supplier have found a new technology that allows them to expand production by 20 instead of 10 for every dollar increase in price. The supply curve is flatter or more elastic
Qd = 1100 20P Qs = 100 + 20P
Solve algebraically and graph the new supply curve on the same graph as #1 amd #2 in a different color Show the new marketclearing price (equilibrium price and quantity)
Voc. 4 Eco 102 Graphing Supply and Demand Equations Michael R. Dohan Fall 2012
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Y2
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pM0 straight
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2
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x0
2
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2
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2
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2
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2
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2
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2
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2
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