The causes of World War I (again)

A question from Yahoo! Answers:

1st World War question:?

For people who know about the 1st world war well:

when franz-ferdinand was assassinated, i had thought, well, why would germany want to help Austria hungary to declare war on serbia? yes, she had been ‘throwing her weight around’ previoulsy, but in my history exam i thought that, possibly, if Germany wanted to do this, she could get back at the Triple Entente, by helping fight Serbia, who would turn to Russia for help, and she turn to france and britain… was this the possible plan of the Kaiser? your views please!

Take a step back from the petty squabbles and look at the big picture.

By about 1880, all major European countries adopted the gold standard. Under the gold standard, a nation can expand its money supply only as far as its gold stock allows. To expand its gold stock, a nation must have a trade surplus. So expanding the money supply under the gold standard is only possible if a nation has a trade surplus.

Expanding money supply is the quickest way of ending recessions and thus keeping the population gainfully employed and reasonably happy. But under the gold standard, it is only possible if a nation has a trade surplus, so governments, instead of abandoning the gold standard, started working on ensuring that their nations always have a trade surplus.

In practice, this took the form of pressuring other countries into opening their markets for your exports while keeping imports off your domestic market. The pressure tactics gradually escalated from diplomacy to the threat or war, until everyone was threatening everyone else.

And that’s when Gavrilo Princip fired his FN M 1910… If he didn’t, another “cause” (which, of course, would have as little to do with real problem as the assassination of Franz Ferdinand did) would have been found in a pretty short order…

1 thought on “The causes of World War I (again)

  1. Janet

    Really I didn’t know that was the reason. I thought they were dragged in to war because of treaties. I did not know there was another compunding factor in the outbreak of WW1. Thanks. Still gotta find books for 2.1 History ncea level two so if you know any on Franz Ferdinands assassination please email the titles and authors to me!

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