Business accounting defines profits as the excess of total revenues over total costs. Alternately, in economic theory profits have been variously defined on the basis of what is being measured and for what purpose, i.e., as the return to ownership or the return to entrepreneurship, and as national income profits or real profits. The concept of profits however, cannot and should not be reduced simply to matters of measurement alone, but rather to its role within the workings of an economic system. The Institute believes that further study of the role of profits can provide insights into the crucial questions of the interrelationships between profits, corporate investment and financing activity, the causes of instability, the secular and cyclical changes in production and employment, and many other issues. This Conference aims to a re-examination of the role of profits not with a proclamation of an ideological endorsement, but with a call for serious reassessment.
Conference, International, "Profits and Instability" (1989). Archives of the Levy Economics Institute. 7.