Category: 

What is a Supply Shock?

Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
The mongoose was introduced to Hawaii in order to kill rats, but mongooses hunt in the day, while rats are nocturnal.  more...

December 7 ,  1941 :  Japanese bombers attack Pearl Harbor.  more...

A supply shock is an unexpected event that changes supply availability, causing a corresponding shift in demand and pricing. Supply shocks can be positive, meaning an increase of supplies is available, or negative, with a decrease in availability. In both cases, they can sometimes cause a ripple effect in the economy if the supply in question is a key component of the economy, as in the case of sudden changes in the availability of oil.

Positive supply shocks happen when something occurs to increase the expected supply of something. This can commonly occur with agriculture, where unusually good weather might result in a bumper crop. While this might sound beneficial for farmers, it can actually create a problem, because as the availability of a crop increases, demand drops. Prices will fall, and the situation may reach the point where it is more cost effective to plow the crops under than to bring them to market. This can also happen when too many farmers decide to produce a crop in a given year, not realizing that others have increased their planned output as well.

Ad

Negative supply shocks decrease the supply of something. Natural disasters and industrial accidents are a common cause for negative supply shock, as they damage supplies or make it impossible to move them. Refinery fires, for example, may decrease available refined oil products like gasoline. Demand will rise, and prices will increase in response. People who are positioned well can take advantage of a negative supply shock to sell goods off at high prices.

Geopolitical events can also be contributors to both positive and negative supply shocks. Anything from opening borders to setting new policies may affect the supply of certain items. When prices rise or fall dramatically, connected products and commodities can also take a hit. In the example of oil supply shock, for instance, high oil prices drive up the costs of everything produced with oil, from produce to plastics.

By its nature, a supply shock is unpredictable. However, people in business do attempt to take steps to consider possible sources of supply shock so they can address them if they occur. Farmers may buy insurance to protect themselves from crop damages as well as overproduction, for example. People involved in stock and futures trading also remain alert to early warning signs indicative of potential supply shock, keeping in mind that these signs can sometimes be very subtle.

Ad

You might also Like

Recommended

Discuss this Article

cafe41
Post 2

@Oasis11 - I remember those days and it was tough, but I also want to say that we really live in a unique economic time because we have considerable levels of inflation for many consumer products, but interest rates are at an all time low and housing prices could not be lower.

In fact, I think that there is a favorable supply shock with respect to the housing market because the amount of foreclosures on the market seems never ending. These homes are also creating downward pressure in housing prices in many communities. In fact, there are so many homes on the market that sellers are having a hard time selling their homes because they have to compete with the bargain basement pricing of many of the foreclosed properties.

oasis11
Post 1

I remember in the late 1970’s, we had an adverse supply shock with respect to oil. I was kid at the time but I remember that there were gasoline shortages and long lines at the pump.

It was kind of scary. There was also upward pressure on prices in general which caused demand inflation for many products and services. This stagflation also made the demand of money to go up as banks were charging double digit interest rates in order to process loans for consumers. It was a very expensive time in our nation’s history.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email