The European Economy between the Wars

The European Economy between the Wars

The European Economy between the Wars

The European Economy between the Wars


The European Economy Between the Wars provides an authoritative economic history of Europe in the inter-war period. Placing the Great Depression of 1929-33 and the associated financial crisis at the center of the narrative, the authors comprehensively examine the lead-up to and the consequences of the depression and recovery. The basic approach in this textbook is chronological, and the style is clear and straightforward, accessible to students in a range of disciplines.


There is now no possibility of reaching a normal level of production in the near future. Our efforts are directed towards the attainment of more limited hopes. Can we prevent an almost complete collapse of the financial structure of modern capitalism? With no financial leadership left in the world and profound intellectual error as to causes and cures prevailing in the responsible seats of power, one begins to wonder and to doubt.

(Keynes 1932: 71)

Chaos, crisis, and catastrophe are terms which feature prominently in the economic history of inter-war Europe. They are applied to price and money supplies, foreign exchange rates, gold and capital movements, banking systems, and external trade. Early in the period there were several spectacular episodes of hyper-inflation in central and eastern Europe, and many other countries suffered severe though less drastic inflation, and corresponding depreciation of the external value of their currencies.

There was a short-lived post-war boom followed by a slump, and a number of countries experienced serious banking crises in 1920-1. These inflationary and financial problems were a direct consequence of the First World War. So too was the colossal burden of inter-Allied debts, and the attempt of the Allies, particularly France, to extract huge sums in reparations from Germany. The struggle to cope with these enormous obligations was one of the critical factors in the financial instability of the 1920s.

A further aspect of great significance was the widespread belief in financial and political circles that it was essential to return to the prewar gold standard if the growth and prosperity of the pre-1914 era were to be re-established, whatever the sacrifices their countries would have to make in order to force down wages and prices so that the pre-war value of the currency could be restored. The attempt to achieve this reconstruction of the gold standard dominated the financial policies of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.