Great Depression

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Great Depression,

in U.S. history, the severe economic crisis generally considered to have been precipitated by the U.S. stock-market crash of 1929. Although it shared the basic characteristics of other such crises (see depressiondepression,
in economics, period of economic crisis in commerce, finance, and industry, characterized by falling prices, restriction of credit, low output and investment, numerous bankruptcies, and a high level of unemployment.
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), the Great Depression was unprecedented in its length and in the wholesale poverty and tragedy it inflicted on society. Economists have disagreed over its causes, but certain causative factors are generally accepted. The prosperity of the 1920s was unevenly distributed among the various parts of the American economy—farmers and unskilled workers were notably excluded—with the result that the nation's productive capacity was greater than its capacity to consume. In addition, the tariff and war-debt policies of the Republican administrations of the 1920s had cut down the foreign market for American goods. Finally, easy-money policies led to an inordinate expansion of credit and installment buying and fantastic speculation in the stock market.

The American depression produced severe effects abroad, especially in Europe, where many countries had not fully recovered from the aftermath of World War I; in Germany, the economic disaster and resulting social dislocation contributed to the rise of Adolf Hitler. In the United States, at the depth (1932–33) of the depression, there were 16 million unemployed—about one third of the available labor force. The gross national product declined from the 1929 figure of $103,828,000,000 to $55,760,000,000 in 1933, and in two years more than 5,000 banks failed. As a social consequence of the depression, the birthrate fell precipitously, for the first time in American history falling below the replacement rate. The economic, agricultural, and relief policies of the New DealNew Deal,
in U.S. history, term for the domestic reform program of the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt; it was first used by Roosevelt in his speech accepting the Democratic party nomination for President in 1932.
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 administration under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt did a great deal to mitigate the effects of the depression and, most importantly, to restore a sense of confidence to the American people. Yet it is generally agreed that complete business recovery was not achieved and unemployment ended until the early 1940s, when as a result of World War II the government began to spend heavily for defense.

Bibliography

See R. R. and H. M. Lynd, Middletown in Transition (1937, repr. 1982); F. L. Allen, Since Yesterday: The 1930s in America (1940); D. Wecter, The Age of the Great Depression (1948, repr. 1956); A. M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Crisis of the Old Order (1957); D. A. Shannon, ed., The Great Depression (1960); C. Bird, The Invisible Scar: The Great Depression, and What It Did to American Life … (1966); A. U. Romasco, The Poverty of Abundance (1965); G. Rees, The Great Slump (1970); S. Terkel, Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (1970, repr. 2000); C. P. Kindleberger, The World in Depression (1973); G. H. Elder, Jr., Children of the Great Depression (1974, upd. ed. 1998); D. M. Kennedy, Freedom from Fear (1999); T. H. Watkins, The Hungry Years (1999); L. Ahamed, Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World (2009); M. Dickstein, Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression (2009).

Great Depression

economic crisis of 1929–1939, unprecedented in length and widespread poverty. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1132]
See: Poverty
References in periodicals archive ?
JB Priestley wrote about his visit to the town | The Great Slump saw the closure of Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company - the main |source of employment in Jarrow - following a collapse in demand and orders due to the depression, which prompted The Jarrow March three years of hardship later The book by Priestley, below |
IN SPITE of political correctness and down-sizing, the luxury car market has shown no signs of any great slump in recent years and 2004 will bring its fair share of motorway mile munchers designed to cossett captains of industry and the mega-rich in the luxury to which they're accustomed.
Although neither of these two prosperous little nations actually fits the traditional dole queues-plus-soup kitchens stereotype of the Great Slump of the 1930s, their fall away in growth performance over the past three decades has been so marked and sustained--New Zealand dropping from 8th to 22nd in per capita GDP; Switzerland from 2nd to 8th--as to arguably warrant the technical label of Depression.
During the Great Slump, the South Wales Valleys, then a centre of the coal mining and steel industries, was devastated by the depression where towns such as Merthyr Tydfil and Swansea had unemployment rates reaching above 25% at certain times.
Thus viewed in a broader perspective, hike in POL, gas & electricity prices will ultimately lead to great slump in business activities causing less tax revenue for the government.
It is 1921, the Great Slump just beginning, hunger marchers straggling up to London from Wales.

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