The Great Depression

Powerful Essays
The Great Depression

The Great Depression was an economic slump in North America, Europe, and other industrialized areas of the world that began in 1929 and lasted until about 1939. There were a few main areas of focus during the Great Depression. The key areas were the Crash of the Stock Market, Unemployment Rate, the effect on the rest of the world, World War II and our political out look and the way different countries handle themselves today. The Great Depression was the longest and most severe depression ever experienced by the industrialized Western world.

Though the U.S. economy had gone into depression six months earlier, the Great Depression may be said to have begun with a catastrophic collapse of stock-market prices on the New York Stock Exchange in October 1929, when President Hoover came in office. During the next three years stock prices in the United States continued to fall, until by late 1932 they had dropped to only about 20 percent of their value in 1929 ( Some of the stock figures I received from ( indicate the changes of the Gross National Product from 1930 until 1939. The Gross National Product, or GNP, for 1930 had a negative change of 9.4 percent. In 1931, the GNP continued to decline another 8.5 percent. In 1932 it dropped another 13.4 percent and continued to drop 2.1 percent in 1933. In 1934 the GNP made a turn for the better and started to increase by 7.7 percent and continued to rise in 1935 with an increase of 8.1 percent. During 1936 and 1937 the GNP rose for a combined amount of 19.1 percent but do to the beginning of recession in 1938 it had a drop of 4.5 percent. Once Recession ended the GNP went up 7.9 percent in 1939.

( tells us that besides ruining many thousands of individual investors, this precipitous decline in the value of assets greatly strained banks and other financial institutions, particularly those holding stocks in their portfolios. Many banks were consequently forced into insolvency; by 1933, 11,000 of the United States' 25,000 banks had failed. The failure of so many banks, combined with a general and nationwide loss of confidence in the economy, led to much-reduced levels of spending and demand and hence of production, thus aggravating the downward spiral.

“The result was drastically falling output and drastically rising unemployment; ...

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...its were contracting it; The Fed's inaction was the reason why the initial recession turned into a prolonged depression; The economy continually sank throughout Hoover's entire term. Under Roosevelt's New Deal, it rose five out of seven years. Attempts to blame Big Government for the Depression do not withstand serious scrutiny; The Smoot-Hawley Tariff had a minor impact because trade formed only 6 percent of the U.S. economy, and reducing trade gave Americans only that much more money to spend domestically. Hoover's other attempts at government intervention came mostly during his last year in office, when the Depression was already at its depth; The first nations to come out of the Great Depression were Sweden, Germany, Great Britain, and then everyone else did so after they adopted the Keynesian solution of heavy deficit government spending and the Keynesian economic policies have eliminated the depression from the world's economies in the six decades that have followed.

Works Cited

Nelson Cary

Kennedy, David

Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War

Oxford, New York 1999

Oxford University Press
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