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The recession continued to get worse over the next 3 years. In , 4 million Americans were unemployed with little chance of finding a job. At the same time, industrial production was plummeting across the nation. There were a growing number of bread lines, soup kitchens, and homeless people. Farmers — many of whom had been struggling throughout the s due to drought and falling food prices — could no longer afford to harvest their crops.

One of the tragic ironies about the Great Depression is that crops were left to rot in the fields in rural America due to lack of available labor, while unemployed Americans in big cities starved. Things got worse in the fall of , as America would undergo four waves of banking panics. During these crises, a number of investors lost confidence in the banks. What do you do when you lose confidence in the banks? You take out all your money and keep it at home. Unfortunately, banks did not have enough cash to supply all of the demand. In order to meet this demand, banks were forced to liquidate loans, supplementing their already-strained cash reserves they had on-hand.

By , thousands of banks across America had no choice but to close their doors. In the middle of the Great Depression of , America held its federal election. Democratic nominee Franklin D. Roosevelt won an overwhelming victory. Things looked bleak for America.

How This Low Point in American History Still Affects You Today

During his first days in office, he passed legislation aimed at stabilizing the American economy in various ways. He passed legislation to stabilize industrial and agricultural production, for example, while simultaneously creating jobs and stimulating recovery. He realized the current system had some major flaws. FDR also changed the nature of the stock markets permanently by creating the Securities and Exchange Commission SEC , an organization to regulate the stock market and prevent the kind of abuses that led to the crash.

We mentioned above that FDR enacted legislation to improve recovery efforts across America. But what exactly does that mean?

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Today, spending your way out of a recession is conventional wisdom, but it was seen as a controversial approach back in the s. FDR saw widespread poverty in the South.

The Great Depression

Few places in America were poorer than the Tennessee Valley region. These dams came with multiple benefits. First, their construction employed local people across the South. Second, they controlled flooding throughout the region. And third and most importantly, they provided electrical power to a region that desperately needed it. The WPA was a permanent jobs program that employed 8. It led to the creation of infrastructure projects all across America. Dams, interstates, and other infrastructure projects can all be traced back to the WPA.

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  • The Great Depression;
  • US History.
  • The Great Depression;
  • The Great Depression and World War II, 1929-1945.

In , economic fears sprang up across America as the country entered a sharp recession. Although the economy began improving again in , the recession reversed much of the progress America had made over the previous years in terms of production and employment, prolonging the effects of the Great Depression throughout most of America.

  1. 48. The Great Depression;
  2. Great Depression in the United States.
  3. The Great Depression and U.S. Foreign Policy.
  4. Economic history.
  5. Timing and severity.
  6. Artists of the New Deal!
  7. The Great Depression affected countries all over the world. No western country escaped the Great Depression unscathed, although America was hit particularly hard. Different countries reacted to the Great Depression in different ways. In Germany, charismatic leader Adolf Hitler rose to power, promising to bring an era of new change to the country.

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    Nazi Germany, controversially, was one of the best things to happen to America in a decade. The United States continued to remain officially neutral, doing business with both Nazi Germany and the western Allies. By the time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December , America was in prime position to be mobilized for total war.

    Widespread conscription began in , reducing the unemployment rate to below pre-Depression levels. From the heyday of the Roaring Twenties to the devastation of World War II, the history of the Great Depression is one of the most monumental stories in all of American history. Your email address will not be published. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Milestones: 1921–1936

    What was the Great Depression? The good times came to a sudden end, unfortunately, in October Why Did Wall Street Crash in ? We know today that the crash was related to a number of key factors, including: After World War I, many Americans were lured by the promises of work in the big city. Between the peak and the trough of the downturn, industrial production in the United States declined 47 percent and real gross domestic product GDP fell 30 percent. The wholesale price index declined 33 percent such declines in the price level are referred to as deflation. Although there is some debate about the reliability of the statistics, it is widely agreed that the unemployment rate exceeded 20 percent at its highest point.

    The Depression affected virtually every country of the world. However, the dates and magnitude of the downturn varied substantially across countries. Table 1 shows the dates of the downturn and upturn in economic activity in a number of countries. Table 2 shows the peak-to-trough percentage decline in annual industrial production for countries for which such data are available. Great Britain struggled with low growth and recession during most of the second half of the s. Britain did not slip into severe depression, however, until early , and its peak-to-trough decline in industrial production was roughly one-third that of the United States.

    France also experienced a relatively short downturn in the early s. The French recovery in and , however, was short-lived. French industrial production and prices both fell substantially between and The decline in German industrial production was roughly equal to that in the United States. A number of countries in Latin America fell into depression in late and early , slightly before the U. While some less-developed countries experienced severe depressions, others, such as Argentina and Brazil , experienced comparatively mild downturns.

    A Short History of the Great Depression

    Japan also experienced a mild depression, which began relatively late and ended relatively early. The general price deflation evident in the United States was also present in other countries. Virtually every industrialized country endured declines in wholesale prices of 30 percent or more between and Because of the greater flexibility of the Japanese price structure, deflation in Japan was unusually rapid in and This rapid deflation may have helped to keep the decline in Japanese production relatively mild.

    The Great Depression (1929-1939)

    The prices of primary commodities traded in world markets declined even more dramatically during this period. For example, the prices of coffee, cotton, silk, and rubber were reduced by roughly half just between September and December As a result, the terms of trade declined precipitously for producers of primary commodities. The U. Output grew rapidly in the mids: real GDP rose at an average rate of 9 percent per year between and Output had fallen so deeply in the early years of the s, however, that it remained substantially below its long-run trend path throughout this period. In —38 the United States suffered another severe downturn, but after mid the American economy grew even more rapidly than in the mids. Recovery in the rest of the world varied greatly. The British economy stopped declining soon after Great Britain abandoned the gold standard in September , although genuine recovery did not begin until the end of The economies of a number of Latin American countries began to strengthen in late and early Germany and Japan both began to recover in the fall of Canada and many smaller European countries started to revive at about the same time as the United States, early in On the other hand, France, which experienced severe depression later than most countries, did not firmly enter the recovery phase until Great Depression.

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