Unfortunately in the year XXXX the whole world was one large international workshop. A strike in the Argentine was apt to cause suffering in Berlin. A raise in the price of certain raw materials in London might spell disaster to tens of thousands of long-suffering Chinese coolies who had never even heard of the existence of the big city on the Thames. The invention of some obscure Privat-Dozent in a third-rate German university would often force dozens of Chilean banks to close their doors, while bad management on the part of an old commercial house in Gothenburg might deprive hundreds of little boys and girls in Australia of a chance to go to college.
Except for the archaic language, this might be a contemporary description of the risks and stresses of our increasingly-interconnected world. It is actually a passage from Hendrik Willem Van Loon’s book The Story of Mankind, published in 1921.
The date that appears in place of XXXX is 1914.
(I posted the above in 2008…today’s market action, combined with various ongoing political crises, suggested that this might be an appropriate time to repost it)