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Updated at 2018/07/10

Common examples of demand shocks are interest rate cuts, tax cuts, government stimulus programs, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, wars or stock market crashes. Demand shocks are surprise events that lead to increased or decreased demand for goods or services. They can lead to surging or falling prices as supply tends to be inelastic in the short-term. Over time, the shock fades and supply responds to find a new, sustainable equilibrium.

Positive Demand Shocks

Examples of positive demand shocks are interest rate cuts, tax cuts or a government stimulus. They have the effect of increasing aggregate demand in the economy, leading to increased consumption. Companies anticipating increased revenues may respond by hiring more workers or expanding operations. This increase in hiring and economic activity feeds back to lead to even more consumption. One drawback of a positive demand shock is it can lead to higher prices if the economy is near full capacity, which heightens inflation risks.

Negative Demand Shocks

Terrorist attacks, natural disasters or stock market crashes are negative economic shocks as they create fear. In this mindset, people are more inclined to save rather than consume. Further, they are less inclined to take risks to start a business or pursue an education, which are activities integral to economic growth. Although these decisions may be rational on an individual basis, on an aggregate basis, it can lead to crippling economic losses. To balance such a negative demand shock, governments may be inclined to lower interest rates, cut taxes or increase spending to reverse a self-reinforcing negative spiral. This is essentially introducing a positive demand shock to counteract a negative shock.

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