Does Capitalist Production Have a Long Cycle? (pt 3)

The mid-Victorian boom

The period from 1848 to 1873 is sometimes called by economic historians the mid-Victorian boom. It saw a huge expansion of industry, world trade and a generally rising price trend. The mid-Victorian boom was not crisis-free, however. A sharp if brief crisis erupted in 1857, and another occurred in 1866.

The economic crash that hit Austria and Germany hard in the spring of 1873 and spread to Wall Street that fall is generally considered to mark the end of the mid-Victorian boom and the beginning of the “Great Depression” of the 19th century. Thereafter, prices trended downwards until bottoming out in 1896.

For supporters of the long-cycle theory, the mid-Victorian boom represented an upswing in the long cycle, or for supporters of Mandel-type long waves, an expansionary long wave. Students of this episode in economic history have the advantage of being able to study the economic commentaries of Marx and Engels themselves, both in published works and private letters.

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