The beginning of the 20th century is characterised on an international level by a remarkable economic growth, by the convergence of income of different social strata and by the intensification of the globalisation process among national economies. The fall in transport cost, the flourishing of overseas investments and the extensive transatlantic emigration movement of European unemployed people constitute the basic characteristics and interpretation means, from an economic point of view, of that "golden" period. The optimism inspired to the western man by the technical progress vanished very quickly after 1914. The destructive prolongation of a war, which was thought temporary, altered radically the aspect of Europe but also the system of international relations.

The beneficial prewar economic trends were called to a halt between the two Wars. Despite the efforts of the Europeans to return to the normality and stability that they had known before the fatal year 1914, economies became more and more inward, the movement of capitals, merchandise and people reduced and the globalisation trends were suspended. The American president Woodrow Wilson struggled in vain to create through the League of Nations a worldwide security system that would outlaw wars. The U.S.A. were the first to refuse to take part in this noble experiment, while the European countries dealt with it opportunistically.