“In his ‘Sketch for a Critique of Political Economy Engels had declared that the law of competition which brought about crises was not a philosophical principle, but simply a law of nature. At that time he had asserted that crises recurred at intervals of from five to seven years, and that each must be more universal and more paralysing than the last. He had added that the English proletariat would put up with only one more. The ‘Communist Manifesto’ declared that the measures used by the ‘bourgeoisie’ to counteract a crisis only produced greater and more universal crises – a dictum which was only an expansion of the idea already expressed in the ‘Sketch for a critique’. As we know, Engels regarded economic crises as one of the most powerful agents of political change. In 1850 he first hazarded the conjecture that the enormous growth in the means of production would bring about crises separated only by short periods of partial recovery. In Harney’s ‘Democratic Review’ he spoke of the various reverses which had been luckily compensated by the opening of new markets, or by the improved exploitation of old markets through diminution of the costs of production. But that, too, had, he said, “a limit. There are no more new markets to open. When we see that although it is impossible to find new markets, the capitalist system is constantly forced to increase production, it is obvious that the domination of the factory-owners has reached its end. What then? Universal ruin and chaos, say the Free Traders. Social revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, say we”. When Engels returned to business, he expected that the next crisis would come in the following year. When it had not come by the end of February 1852, he blamed the opening-up of the Dutch colonies, tariff reductions in various countries, and the fall in the price of cotton. Some months later he was puzzled, and began to wonder whether the boom, which did not look like coming to an end, should not be credited with a fairly long life. He referred Marx to the unexpected elasticity of the market in the East Indies, the “confusion introduced by California and Australia”, the cheapness of most raw products and industrial products, and the absence of speculation. But still he tried to cling to his previous forecast: half a year more or less, he thought, would not make much difference. (…) Al last, in 1857, the event for which he had waited with such impatience occurred. In the second half of that year the first real world crisis shook the foundations of the economic system which had during the last ten years expanded the productive forces of the world at an unparalleled speed. Engels was certain that there would be a terrific crash. All the elements of one were ready to hand: the intensity and universality of the depression and the implication in it of the propertied and ruling classes. He mocked the English for calmly relying on the soundness of their home market and the prosperity of their industry, without noticing that it was their investments on the Continent and in the USA which had caused the speculative boom. In September 1856 excessive speculation in Germany had created an alarming shortage of capital. Engels correctly saw this as merely a prelude to the storm. When the slump came he wrote to Marx, it would mean a ‘Dies Irae’ of unheard of severity: “the whole of European industry ruined, all markets glutted, all the propertied classes involved, the ‘bourgeoisie’ completely bankrupt, terrific wars and utter chaos”. He did not care if this was a little delayed. If the financial crisis grew in intensity throughout the winter, he expected still more deadly effects when it broke out in the spring” (pag 151-153) [Gustav Mayer,” Friedrich Engels. A Biography “, London, 1936]