The world war became the initial stage of the enormous deformations in all sectors of the national economy that fell upon Russia. The worst consequences of the war affected the size of the labor force, and the ranks of skilled personnel were reduced. Mobilization seized according to various estimates from 14 to 19 million people.
The lack of male workers at industrial enterprises began to be compensated by women and teenagers. At a number of Petrograd enterprises, female labor occupied a predominant place. So, at Skorokhod, women accounted for 70% of all workers, in tobacco factories - 80%. Even in the metal industry for the years 1914-1916. the number of employed women has increased almost 10 times. At the same time, the process of increasing the number of workers of a mature age — 50–60 years and above — has peaked.
The deterioration of the qualitative composition of the labor force led to a drop in labor productivity. The average decline in the skills of workers in the capital in 1914-1916. amounted to 10%. At enterprises that worked continuously, there was a monstrously painful process of growth in production, which developed weapons. By 1917, those industries that worked for the war (weapons, clothing, food) and its rear increased. All the others - little or no connection with the service of war - were in decline.
By 1917, the fuel, raw materials and transport crisis was acutely felt in Russia. Oil production in the country decreased from 10.4 million tons in 1916 to 8.4 million tons in 1917. According to authoritative testimony of one of the best experts on the national economy of those years, Professor V.I. Grinevetsky, since 1916, ex -the use of railways "all the time went downhill."
The impending economic crisis was seen by many. In early 1917, the chairman of the IV State Duma, M. V. Rodzianko, in a note submitted to Nicholas II, pointed to a catastrophic situation in all industries. They noted "serious difficulties" in the delivery of fuel for industry, a breakdown in finances, a drop in labor productivity, an increase in the number of strikes, etc. The situation was aggravated by the food crisis, which became one of the most prominent indicators of the fatality of the policy.
In the first days of the war, a step was taken that played a major role in the history of Russia's money circulation - the exchange of gold credit cards was suspended .. The government was faced with the need to find additional funds to finance the war. The source of such funds was to be issuing credit cards. The amount of paper money not secured with gold increases in circulation. The gold coin, and behind it the silver and copper coins disappear from the turnover, at the hands of the population.
Russia's spending on warfare reaches colossal numbers: by the end of 1914, up to 12 million rubles a day.
By the end of 1915 - up to 28 million, by the end of 1916 - up to 46 million, in mid-1917 - up to 67 million. In general, the government’s spending on the war amounted to 48 billion rubles by the end of 1917.
One of the sources of financing the war were domestic loans. Until February 1917, 6 loans were sold in Russia, from which the tsarist government raised 7.5 billion rubles.
However, despite the attempts being made to achieve financial stabilization, all efforts in this direction were in vain. The purchasing power of the Russian ruble by February 1917 dropped to 27 kopecks. Russia's foreign debt and its dependence on foreign creditors have increased. By the time of the Genoa Conference (1922), the Entente states had carefully calculated the military debts of Russia. They amounted to 7.25 billion rubles.