Vienna’s World Fair celebrating the prosperity of Austria’s modern empire opened on 1 May 1873. Eight days later the Vienna stock market crashed, precipitating a global depression with consequences that would ramify for a century. The ‘Long Depression’, known as the ‘Great Depression’ until the downturn of the 1930s took that title, gripped Europe from 1873 to 1896. It was a deflationary recession. Unemployment persisted for a generation, but not spectacularly, as in the 1930s. The effects were felt unevenly by workers and businesses. Industries associated with emerging technologies, such as chemicals, flourished, while grain prices fell, making droves of workers destitute. Competition for raw materials dispersed across vast colonial empires accelerated. Tensions rose as the world became smaller in the eyes of hungry industries patronised by codependent governments. A world war broke out in 1914 to settle colonial disputes 400 years in the making. Melbourne’s Catholic Archbishop at the time, Daniel Mannix, rightly called it a ‘sordid trade war’. Within four years a particularly virulent strain of influenza infected around a third of the world’s population and killed an estimated 20 to 50 million people.
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