"Even on the eve of war, however, there was still considerable optimism that the peace would hold. Europe had experienced several decades without a major war, and in the meantime, industrialization and relatively free international trade had produced rapidly rising standards of living. A war that would destroy the fruits of this progress seemed irrational.
Many people believed, moreover, that the rising international solidarity of the labor movement would undermine support for a war entered into by imperialistic capitalist powers. Although financial markets were retrenching, they gave no sign that a cataclysm lay ahead. The optimists were wrong."
-- Gary M. Walton and Hugh Rockoff, History of the American Economy, Eleventh Edition, p. 380