A category of disruptions is associated with the multiple demands made on ports, implying that port activity is largely reliant on external demand factors largely outside its control. Economic and political shocks can indirectly disrupt port activities by impacting cargo demand. For instance, the financial crisis of 2008-2009 was associated with substantial declines in port activity in several regions of the world. Ports at Los Angeles and Long Beach took almost a decade for the traffic to recover to pre-crisis levels. For large ports, such economic disruptions can result in reduced traffic that can reach millions of TEUs over the years. If infrastructure investments were made years prior to the economic disruption, a port could face enduring overcapacity that may test its financial resilience.

Since future traffic expectations are important factors in terminal concessions and infrastructure investments, the lack of return on investments can undermine the viability of ports and maritime shipping. For instance, in 2016 the world's seventh-largest carrier, Hanjin, was forced which was forced to cease operations as it went into bankruptcy; this occurred at a time when the market was already in a situation of overcapacity, with most shipping lines posting negative returns. Ports evolving in highly volatile markets are subject to constant and random traffic fluctuations. For example, some ports, e.g. the Argentinian port of Buenos Aires, have seen limited growth over the last 20 years, and fluctuations in the traffic they handle. More recently, inflationary trends, particularly in energy and commodity prices, are threatening global economic and political stability.