chapter
Booms and Busts: The Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
Pages 8

The advent of capitalism in the early modern era, and the industrial and commercial revolutions, which transformed the economies of Europe and North America from the late eighteenth through the late nineteenth centuries, created a material abundance for the masses unknown in previous human history. At the same time, these developments brought the economic volatility of the business cycle, the booms and busts that lifted and broke individual and business fortunes on a recurring basis. Throughout the nineteenth century and particularly in its last few decades, the economies of the United States and Europe were periodically rocked by financial panics and recessions, some of them, such as those of the 1870s and 1890s, deep and lasting.