The Great Depression (Economics - Taking the Mystery out of Money)

The Great Depression (Economics - Taking the Mystery out of Money)

Brian Duignan, Britannica Educational Publishing

Language: English

Pages: 77

ISBN: 2:00246870

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Age range: 13 - 17 Years


When the United States suffered through the Great Recession of 2007–09, the downturn was frequently referred to as the worst since the Great Depression. Indeed, at 18 months, the Great Recession was the longest recession the U.S. had experienced since the 1930s. Still, even that recent experience cannot give people today much of a feel for what America went through from 1929 to 1939, when the Great Depression held the nation (and much of the world) in its grip.

Spanning two recessions totalling a combined 56 months, the Great Depression was not simply a temporary economic setback but a period of severe hardship that profoundly affected both rich and poor. It changed the course of world politics and left a permanent mark on U.S. government institutions and American popular culture. In the generation that witnessed it the Great Depression instilled a profound caution about money, an ethos that was in stark contrast to the excesses that later led to the global financial crisis, which significantly worsened the Great Recession in 2008–09.

This book is designed to give readers a view of the Great Depression, not purely from an economic standpoint but also with respect to its personal, political, and cultural effects. This book will also give readers a sense of the diverse forces that influence economic growth. A discussion of economic cycles is a useful starting point for this examination of the Great Depression because it helps put the events of the time in perspective.

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unemployed that was created in 1935 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. While critics called the WPA an extension of the dole or a device for creating a huge patronage army loyal to the Democratic Party, the stated purpose of the program was to provide useful work for millions of victims of the Great Depression and thus to preserve their skills and self-respect. The economy would in turn be stimulated by the increased purchasing power of the newly employed, whose wages under

to improve by the mid-1930s, total recovery was not accomplished until the end of the decade. The Great Depression and the policy response also changed the world economy in crucial ways. Most obviously, it hastened, if not caused, the end of the international gold standard. Although a system of fixed currency exchange rates was reinstated after World War II under the Bretton Woods system, the economies of the world never embraced that system with the conviction and fervour they had brought to

the gold standard. By 1973, fixed exchange rates had been abandoned in favour of floating rates. Both labour unions and the welfare state expanded substantially during the 1930s. In the United States, union membership more than doubled between 1930 and 1940. This trend was stimulated by both the severe unemployment of the 1930s and the passage of the National Labor Relations (Wagner) Act (1935), which established the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to facilitate collective bargaining and

headlines, popular songs, biographies of celebrities, fictional stories, and eloquent prose-poems—was unrelenting in its sardonic depiction of American lives wasted in the neurotic pursuit of wealth and success. John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1939), the most illustrious “protest” novel of the 1930s, was an epic tribute to the Okies, those throwbacks to America’s 19th-century pioneers, now run off their farms by the banks, the Dust Bowl, and the mechanization of modern agriculture,

and necessity secondary to the establishment of a sound national economy. I favor as a practical policy the putting of first things first. I shall spare no effort to restore world trade by international economic readjustment, but the emergency at home cannot wait on that accomplishment. The basic thought that guides these specific means of national recovery is not narrowly nationalistic. It is the insistence, as a first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various elements in all parts

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