“The crisis breaks out first of all in the country which has the balance of payments against it. (The balance of payments is to be distinguished from the balance of trade; the balance of payments is only the immediate situation of the balance of trade, which has to be liquidated at once, or within a definite interval.)
This country will in normal circumstances be England or the United States, i.e., either the country which gives the greatest credit and receives the least in return, or the country which receives the greatest credit, and gives the least in return.
The crisis strikes here and liquidates the immediate balance of payments. This then gives the signal ‘balance of payments’ to another nation and the same phenomena are repeated there, such as efflux of bullion, etc.
The pressure of the country in which the crisis first broke out (leaving aside the impact of the state of the English or the American money market, of credit, and of the total amount of commodities present on the world market as a whole) accelerates the approach of the due date for the balance of payments of other countries, hence a general crisis.
Whereas the due dates for the balance of payments and the balance of trade are normally separated for different nations, they are now forced together so that they occur at the same time, just as, within the country in crisis, all payments now have to be made simultaneously”
–Marx, Capital V. III (removed by Engels’ editing)