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1873 - 1896

Great Depression in Europe and the United States

This period was marked by a decline in the general price level (deflation) and an economic slowdown, without however a decrease in production. Two factors explain this deflation. On the one hand, competition from new countries, in particular the United States, on agricultural and mining markets. Supply grew rapidly thanks to the expansion of cultivated land, which contributed to lowering world prices. The drop in European farmers' income led to a decrease in their purchases of manufactured goods, thereby threatening the industry. On the other hand, as the construction of the most profitable railway lines had come to an end, this resulted in a « rail crisis » that occurred at different times across countries during the 19th century. Consequently, investment plummeted and the balance sheets of rail companies deteriorated. This led to the collapse of rail companies and banks that had invested in this sector.

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