The whole of Europe since 1873 (up to 1895 approximately) faced a period of economic recession not hit all countries and all sectors but particularly agriculture in some countries. The main reason is to be found in the development of transport in particular for rail, storage and refrigeration of food they brought more and more cheap grain from the United States in Europe. Resented European agriculture and the internal market and the only way to defend against this competition was to raise a lot of customs duties by taking a protectionist policy: this was done in Germany, France, Russia and Italy. England instead, now widely industrialized, it was untouched by the crisis and maintained liberal character. The situation was more complex in Germany where the price drop damaged the Prussian aristocracy, the Junkers, but the choice was hampered by protectionist entrepreneurial middle class that had benefited from the low prices.
Bismarck, who had interests at heart aristocrats, devised a scheme to maintain social stability: first promoted repressive legislation in 1878 that struck the German workers' party; it forbade meetings, gatherings of groups who were inspired to Marx; Marx, who had used the wave of indignation following the two attacks on the Kaiser Wilhelm I was aware that this anti-socialist legislation would provoke hatred and resentment in the masses of the workers: this promoted in 1833/34 for a range of standards which enhanced the insurance system for workers; with this paradox Bismarck showed the repressive law to strike and want to prevent other accidents that interfered with the production and with the law social status was not an enemy of the people. These reforms are in favor of the bourgeoisie that the proletariat were designed to appease the objections to the adoption of protective tariffs on grain that harmed both classes related industries but avvantaggiava Junkers and farmers. The adoption of protectionism was obtainable only through the vote of the Catholic Center Party and to obtain the consent of that party Bismarck had to mitigate the Kulturkampf (= struggle for civilization) established after the unification: a series of restrictive measures against the schools and Catholic organizations, for example, expressed the absolute supremacy of the state.
The belle époque: around 1895 the world economy overcame the difficulties and was introduced in an expansion phase which will end only with the First World War. Contemporaries realized the vitality of the period and named it the belle époque.
Previous depression was actually a phase of adjustment due to the emergence of new players on the economic scene as the unified Germany and the US. If the economy century possessed a single center, one English, one of the belle époque no: next to England were placed Germany and the US where they emigrated in the last 30 years of the century, two million Germans: that emigration was a sign of occupational stress due to a shift from agriculture to industrial growth.
Second industrial revolution: during the last three decades of the nineteenth century is utilized in the US and Europe for new sources and new forms of energy thanks to scientific research is increasingly linked to technology and with borrowings of banks and both the substantial role of the states that favored this process through protectionism and state commissions to companies. One of the most important discoveries was that of steel, considered expensive and ineffective up to 800, which was removed the phosphorus and the excess carbon making it sturdy material and used in all sectors: the US was the world's leading producers followed Germany (Krupp). A similar success obtained the chemicals sector (Reich - German) that favored the growth witnessed pharmaceutical invention in 1899 at the hands of Bayer aspirin. The new sources discovered, as opposed to those of coal and steam that characterized the first revolution, were the oil and electricity. The oil was first used only in Russia and then exported around the world and used as fuel for vehicles. Even the 'invention of electricity, from the first was underestimated (due to Siemens inventor of the dynamo and Edison invented the light bulb) and then radically changed the lives of citizens: they were well built plants producing electricity in England in the US and in Germany where he established the most powerful electricity industry, AEG, which, like many other companies, it employed a huge number of employees.
This gigantism was also due to the normal merging of several companies through trust (merger) or signs (synergy agreements, renunciation of competition for the control of an industry). Even banks that financed many operations, assumed great importance and compenetrarono increasingly with industry. All these elements led to a phenomenon of urbanization. The arrival of modernity was not always received with enthusiasm but rather, especially in Germany and France, the middle class saw themselves confined the field of income because of competition from large industries. Hence arose feelings of unease, of anger and frustration that often resulted in anti-Semitic attitudes racist or otherwise, in an attempt to find those responsible for the economic ruin.