Economic Supply-Demand Price Surprises
Certainly! The laws of supply and demand are fundamental to understanding price movements in markets. Here are two examples of each scenario:
Prices Rising Higher Than Expected:
Speculative Bubbles: This is when the price of an asset rises far above its intrinsic value. A classic example is the housing bubble in the U.S. leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. Demand was driven by a combination of low interest rates, innovative (and often risky) mortgage products, and widespread belief that housing prices would continue to rise. As more people bought homes as investments, demand outstripped supply, and prices soared. However, when it became clear that many borrowers couldn't afford their mortgages, demand plummeted, leading to a sharp decline in prices and the subsequent financial crisis.
Sudden Supply Shocks: Events that suddenly and unexpectedly reduce the supply of a good can lead to sharp price increases. For example, geopolitical events in major oil-producing regions can lead to fears of reduced oil supply. Even if the actual reduction in supply is minimal, the anticipation of a shortage can drive up demand (as consumers and businesses stockpile) and prices. The 1970s oil crises are examples of this phenomenon.
Prices Falling Lower Than Expected:
Technological Disruption: New technologies can drastically reduce the cost of producing a good or service, leading to a surge in supply and a drop in prices. For instance, the advent of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") technology in the oil industry led to a significant increase in the supply of oil in the U.S., contributing to a sharp decline in global oil prices in the mid-2010s.
Network Effects and Zero Marginal Cost: In some digital markets, the cost of serving an additional customer is almost zero, and the value of the product increases as more people use it. This can lead to a situation where companies give away products for free to increase their user base. Social media platforms are a prime example. They don't charge users to join because the more users they have, the more valuable the platform becomes to advertisers. Another example is open-source software, where the product is freely available, and revenue might be generated through ancillary services or products.
Both scenarios underscore the dynamic nature of markets and the myriad factors that can influence supply and demand. While these examples might seem surprising in real-time, they make sense when analyzed through the lens of economic theory.