On the problem of optimizing through least cost per unit, when costs are negative: Implications for cost curves and the definition of economic efficiency
For society and industry alike, efficient allocation of resources is crucial. Numerous tools are available that in different ways rank available options and actions under the aim to minimize costs or maximize profit. One common definition of economic efficiency is least cost per unit supplied. A definition that becomes problematic if cost take negative values. One model, where negative costs are not uncommon, is expert based/bottom up [marginal abatement] cost curves. This model is used in many contexts for understanding the impact of economic policy as well as optimizing amongst potential actions. Within this context attention has been turned towards the ranking problem when costs are negative.
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