From Crisis to Depressions
The word “crisis” (appearing in various forms due to the multi-lingual nature of the age) turns up quite often in texts written at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. This poses a couple of questions to the historians of the era. The paper attempts to show how the concept of crisis was used at the turn of the century, and looks for examples of phenomena that can be interpreted along these concepts of crisis. The concept of crisis had had quite tangible meanings ever since antiquity, but in the 18th century it was gradually transformed first into a social-political and then into more of an economic concept. This transformation process can also be observed in the Hungary of the time. The dilemmas of the usage of the concept are apparent until the middle of the 19th century in texts related to medicine, literary criticism and later to politics. Looking at the translations of the era, we can also observe that the word did not have a well-defined meaning in contemporary Hungarian, its conceptual boundaries were not sharp, and coexistent word forms were continuously competing with each other. In the end, “crisis” gradually lost its original meaning, and the Latin form was slowly replaced by the Hungarian term “válság” (depression). In connection with the temporalization of certain social concepts, it gradually spread from the areas of medicine (and literary criticism) to the areas of politics and society as well as to economy, in many cases following a certain cyclicism. But defining the concept of depression and formulating a “tipology of depression” is a difficult task: probably scholars themselves need to define the concept of depression with which they plan to work in a historical perspective, when discussing either economic, social or mental historical questions.
The Years of Credit Shortage
The paper aims at correcting one of the claims from a previous study of mine on the credit conditions in Pest and Buda. At that time, the analysis of the so called intabulation (or mortgage) records from the years 1810, 1830 and 1850 showed that in 1830 there was a notable decrease in credit supply and the composition of lenders seemed different from what we saw in the other two cross sections, while literature had previously dated this turning point to the 1810s and 1820s. Accordingly, further research focused on examining whether there were other economic processes to substantiate this phenomenon. But neither the dynamics of property sales, auctions, local taxes and salaries, nor the purchase reports from the year could justify the conclusions drawn from the mortgage records of 1830. On the other hand, mortgage records from the years 1825, 1835 and 1840, and especially the separation of loans made in the studied year from previous loans, showed that in the base year of 1820 previously granted loans were instrumental in raising the number and value of intabulated loans. The total value of loans made in the year of intabulation was the lowest in 1825, while in 1830 it started to show signs of slow recovery. Comparing the loans made by creditors in Pest to those made by the National Bank of Austria in 1820, we can observe that while the nadir came in 1825 in Pest, the National Bank hit the lowest point in 1830, and it was only during the years between 1835 and 1840 when both experienced the next steep rise.
Grain Crisis at the End of the 19th Century (from a Social Historical Perspective)
The agricultural crisis of the last third of the 19th century is usually described in literature as a crisis of “overproduction”. The paper argues that this view – which was already questioned by such noted contemporary scholars as Jakab Pólya or Andor Löherer – needs to be revisited. It may be more correct to try to find the root of the problem in “one-sided” production, the overemphasized role of ploughland in the production structure and the deficiencies of the entire system of production, rather than in overproduction. In the paper, we focus on individual farmers rather than examining data on the national level. The methodology was inspired primarily by the movement in British economic historical literature that has continuously remained influential since the 1960s, according to which instead of universal statements we should rely on the results of analyses that study farms taking into account at least their main characteristics. Because farms specialized in animal husbandry or ploughland cultivation were affected very differently by the great agricultural depression at the end of the 19th century. Examining the well-documented and thoroughly studied history of agriculture of three Hungarian landed estates (the latifundium of the Piarist custodiatus at Mernye, the Csákvár estate that had been separated from the Tata estate of the Eszterházys, and finally the estates of Akasztó-Vésztő) I am looking for possible reactions to the deterioration of the market position of grain. The results prove that the macro-level crisis did not necessarily bring about the inevitable fall of people dealing with agriculture. On the contrary, even though the farms necessarily reacted differently to the challenge due to their different starting positions, all the three examined estates' traditional farming rhythm and way of life were disturbed by this state of emergency, and they were driven towards a rational, plan-based, capitalist farm organization in the medium-long term.
The Ganz-Jendrassik Diesel Rail Cars in Argentina
The Ganz factory contributed to the development of the technology of transport infrastructure through product innovations and systems innovations such as two new systems for railway electrification and the motorization of the railways with diesel rail cars. The latter offered a viable solution to the problem of making passenger transport profitable in scarcely populated regions, especially where public and private finances were insufficient for the modernization of steam traction, railway electrification or a shift to road transport. Ganz and Co. started to accumulate expert knowledge about the introduction of diesel rail cars in different countries, assessing traffic needs, developing cars adjusted to specific needs, and organizing rail car maintenance. The transnational organizational infrastructure necessary for a company from a small and impoverished country for global business was being built up in form of a license and cartel agreement with well-established British engineering companies, too. The drive of pre-WWII Argentina for industrialization and loosening ties to the former colonizer made this country an ideal stepping stone for marketing the cars in other scarcely populated countries with challenging climate and geographical conditions. However, the paper reveals that internal management problems had already jeopardized these plans before WWII frustrated the ambitions of Ganz and Co once and for all.
Crisis Phenomena and Crisis Experiences among Entrepreneurs in Kolozsvár at the Turn of the 1920s and the 1930s
The paper aims to give an insight into the crisis situation and crisis experiences of Transylvanian entrepreneurs, mostly merchants, who went bankrupt at the turn of the 1920s and 1930s. In this period, insolvent entrepreneurs trying to avoid bankruptcy could enter into a forced composition with creditors (concordat preventiv) to agree upon the terms of payment with their creditors. The paper examines the documents of 17 compositions with creditors and draws novel conclusions. The insolvency of entrepreneurs was only partly related to the spreading global economic crisis. As the country's economic and financial situation had already been characterized by difficulties and crisis phenomena even before the outbreak of the global economic crisis, the conditions for undisturbed industrial and commercial activity were not available. Local conditions impeding prosperity fundamentally determined the situation and the deteriorating business prospects of the entrepreneurs examined. The crisis history of the Ţesătoria Ardelenă SA textile factory, presented in detail, reveals that the management considered the financial environment alarming as early as in 1926-1927. Of the companies running into debt, those that were bigger had more leeway for crisis management, but the deteriorating financial situation of their partners and customers inevitably had an impact on their business prospects, too. On the other hand, smaller businesses were unable to cope with the drop of prices, which had already started before 1929, the high taxes, the credit shortage and the decrease in purchasing power. It becomes clear from the documents that there was a difference between industries and manufacturing units (retail and wholesale) in terms of when and how deeply the crisis hit. The material kept in the dossiers analyzed provides information mainly about the local textile trade, while it also casts light on the fact that the majority of indebted entrepreneurs were not expecting a deepening, long-lasting crisis.
The Role of “Foreign Language Talking Pictures” in the Crisis of Private Theaters
The paper studies the 1930 crisis discourse of the Budapest Theater Directors' Association drawing on archival material held in the Theater History collection in the National Széchényi Library (OSZK). The first chapter analyzes the internal and external communication of the association reacting to the competition of foreign language talking pictures that appeared in Budapest at the end of 1929. The organization petitioned the ministries and the municipality of the Hungarian capital for the alleviation of their financial burdens as private theaters had been operating without financial subsidies and needed to secure the conditions of profitable operation. Beside a decrease of electricity, police and fire safety costs, the main goal of their lobbying was the abolition of the entertainment tax levied on private theaters, as well as imposing the tax on foreign language talking pictures. The second chapter discusses the reasons contemporary trade journals of actors and the film industry as well as trade unions used to explain the crisis of private theaters. Unlike theater directors who were highlighting the financial burdens, they emphasized operational and artistic reasons. In the third chapter, the problem of crisis management is discussed through the career of an influential theater personality. Imre Roboz as the president of the executive committee of the Budapest Theater Directors' Association very actively petitioned against the spread of foreign language talking pictures and movie studios. At the same time, as the director of the American-owned Vígszínház, he was appointed by Adolf Zukor to lead Hungarian language talking picture making in the Paris studio of Paramount from the summer of 1930. I point out these parallel strategies of crisis management through the analysis of documents held in Vígszínház and the Theater History collection of the OSZK.
The Housing Crisis Discourse at the Early Stage of the Sovietization of Hungary
In the paper, I tried to identify the options architects were considering to solve the housing crisis during the post-WWII general crisis. I investigate the most important problems as well as the set of concepts and the point of view they used to formulate their answers. After 1945, as a result of the devastation of the war, the industrialization and appropriation, taxation, land consolidation and collectivization campaigns, those hundreds of thousands of people who were fleeing from the villages to towns turned the existing housing shortage into an acute crisis. Though the leaders of the state must have realized the problems stemming from the bad quality and the undesirable mix of the housing stock, they did little to solve the issue due to their focus on military and heavy industry. As a result, most houses built between 1945 and 1960 were realized as a result of individual efforts. Examining crisis descriptions it becomes apparent that the dominance of modern architecture, which monopolized the architectural discourse on the housing problem after 1945, could not be broken even by the predominant style of socialist realism. In each case, we find the “condemned” modern content behind the Stalinist categories and socialist realist forms, and even socialist realist constraints were to gradually disappear after 1954. But the way of thematizing the crisis changed. The essentially eschatological crisis concept used right after the war was replaced by a new interpretation of the crisis in the 1950s, which saw it as a permanent, long-lasting state. Naturally, parallel to this interpretation the belief in an ultimate, radical solution started waning. This is one reason why, even though the housing problem did not show signs of improvement, it seems that this search for solutions was concluded after the 1951 “great architectural debate” at the 1952 house building conference, to return to the limelight again at the end of the 1950s only.
A Wasted Half Decade – Economic Crisis and Crisis Management in Hungary, 1973-1979
The article investigates the “long 1970s” (1968–1982), when Hungary re-orientated its economic and foreign trade relations. Hungary had always been a proponent of CMEA cooperation and when it realized that Socialist integration stagnated at the level of a bilateral exchange of commodities, Budapest gradually adopted a policy of opening to the world outside the CMEA. The year 1977 was a turning point in economic policy, the Hungarian elite’s way of thinking and attitude towards the West changed – not independently from the world economic crisis and its impact on Hungary. The oil crisis sharpened the latent tensions, and behind the robust growth serious problems started to surface. Although Hungary intensified its relations with the West and the Third World, the country was not able to profit from the advantages of international trade and cooperation. The paper draws on archival documents from the state-party and the economic top leadership.
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