Great Depression

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This article is about the severe worldwide economic downturn in the 1930s. Great Depression_sentence_0

For other uses, see The Great Depression (disambiguation). Great Depression_sentence_1

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. Great Depression_sentence_2

The timing of the Great Depression varied across the world; in most countries, it started in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s. Great Depression_sentence_3

It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. Great Depression_sentence_4

The Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the global economy can decline. Great Depression_sentence_5

The Great Depression started in the United States after a major fall in stock prices that began around September 4, 1929, and became worldwide news with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929, (known as Black Tuesday). Great Depression_sentence_6

Between 1929 and 1932, worldwide gross domestic product (GDP) fell by an estimated 15%. Great Depression_sentence_7

By comparison, worldwide GDP fell by less than 1% from 2008 to 2009 during the Great Recession. Great Depression_sentence_8

Some economies started to recover by the mid-1930s. Great Depression_sentence_9

However, in many countries, the negative effects of the Great Depression lasted until the beginning of World War II. Great Depression_sentence_10

The Great Depression had devastating effects in both rich and poor countries. Great Depression_sentence_11

Personal income, tax revenue, profits and prices dropped, while international trade fell by more than 50%. Great Depression_sentence_12

Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 23% and in some countries rose as high as 33%. Great Depression_sentence_13

Cities around the world were hit hard, especially those dependent on heavy industry. Great Depression_sentence_14

Construction was virtually halted in many countries. Great Depression_sentence_15

Farming communities and rural areas suffered as crop prices fell by about 60%. Great Depression_sentence_16

Facing plummeting demand with few alternative sources of jobs, areas dependent on primary sector industries such as mining and logging suffered the most. Great Depression_sentence_17

Start Great Depression_section_0

See also: Timeline of the Great Depression Great Depression_sentence_18

Economic historians usually consider the catalyst of the Great Depression to be the sudden devastating collapse of U.S. stock market prices, starting on October 24, 1929. Great Depression_sentence_19

However, some dispute this conclusion and see the stock crash as a symptom, rather than a cause, of the Great Depression. Great Depression_sentence_20

Even after the Wall Street Crash of 1929 optimism persisted for some time. Great Depression_sentence_21

John D. Rockefeller said "These are days when many are discouraged. Great Depression_sentence_22

In the 93 years of my life, depressions have come and gone. Great Depression_sentence_23

Prosperity has always returned and will again." Great Depression_sentence_24

The stock market turned upward in early 1930, returning to early 1929 levels by April. Great Depression_sentence_25

This was still almost 30% below the peak of September 1929. Great Depression_sentence_26

Together, the government and business spent more in the first half of 1930 than in the corresponding period of the previous year. Great Depression_sentence_27

On the other hand, consumers, many of whom had suffered severe losses in the stock market the previous year, cut back their expenditures by 10%. Great Depression_sentence_28

In addition, beginning in the mid-1930s, a severe drought ravaged the agricultural heartland of the U.S. Great Depression_sentence_29

Interest rates had dropped to low levels by mid-1930, but expected deflation and the continuing reluctance of people to borrow meant that consumer spending and investment were depressed. Great Depression_sentence_30

By May 1930, automobile sales had declined to below the levels of 1928. Great Depression_sentence_31

Prices, in general, began to decline, although wages held steady in 1930. Great Depression_sentence_32

Then a deflationary spiral started in 1931. Great Depression_sentence_33

Farmers faced a worse outlook; declining crop prices and a Great Plains drought crippled their economic outlook. Great Depression_sentence_34

At its peak, the Great Depression saw nearly 10% of all Great Plains farms change hands despite federal assistance. Great Depression_sentence_35

The decline in the U.S. Great Depression_sentence_36 economy was the factor that pulled down most other countries at first; then, internal weaknesses or strengths in each country made conditions worse or better. Great Depression_sentence_37

Frantic attempts by individual countries to shore up their economies through protectionist policies – such as the 1930 U.S. Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act and retaliatory tariffs in other states – exacerbated the collapse in global trade, contributing to the depression. Great Depression_sentence_38

By 1933, the economic decline had pushed world trade to one third of its level just four years earlier. Great Depression_sentence_39

Economic indicators Great Depression_section_1

Change in economic indicators 1929–32 Great Depression_sentence_40

Great Depression_table_general_0

Great Depression_header_cell_0_0_0 United StatesGreat Depression_header_cell_0_0_1 United KingdomGreat Depression_header_cell_0_0_2 FranceGreat Depression_header_cell_0_0_3 GermanyGreat Depression_header_cell_0_0_4
Industrial productionGreat Depression_cell_0_1_0 −46%Great Depression_cell_0_1_1 −23%Great Depression_cell_0_1_2 −24%Great Depression_cell_0_1_3 −41%Great Depression_cell_0_1_4
Wholesale pricesGreat Depression_cell_0_2_0 −32%Great Depression_cell_0_2_1 −33%Great Depression_cell_0_2_2 −34%Great Depression_cell_0_2_3 −29%Great Depression_cell_0_2_4
Foreign tradeGreat Depression_cell_0_3_0 −70%Great Depression_cell_0_3_1 −60%Great Depression_cell_0_3_2 −54%Great Depression_cell_0_3_3 −61%Great Depression_cell_0_3_4
UnemploymentGreat Depression_cell_0_4_0 +607%Great Depression_cell_0_4_1 +129%Great Depression_cell_0_4_2 +214%Great Depression_cell_0_4_3 +232%Great Depression_cell_0_4_4

Causes Great Depression_section_2

Main article: Causes of the Great Depression Great Depression_sentence_41

The two classic competing economic theories of the Great Depression are the Keynesian (demand-driven) and the monetarist explanation. Great Depression_sentence_42

There are also various heterodox theories that downplay or reject the explanations of the Keynesians and monetarists. Great Depression_sentence_43

The consensus among demand-driven theories is that a large-scale loss of confidence led to a sudden reduction in consumption and investment spending. Great Depression_sentence_44

Once panic and deflation set in, many people believed they could avoid further losses by keeping clear of the markets. Great Depression_sentence_45

Holding money became profitable as prices dropped lower and a given amount of money bought ever more goods, exacerbating the drop in demand. Great Depression_sentence_46

Monetarists believe that the Great Depression started as an ordinary recession, but the shrinking of the money supply greatly exacerbated the economic situation, causing a recession to descend into the Great Depression. Great Depression_sentence_47

Economists and economic historians are almost evenly split as to whether the traditional monetary explanation that monetary forces were the primary cause of the Great Depression is right, or the traditional Keynesian explanation that a fall in autonomous spending, particularly investment, is the primary explanation for the onset of the Great Depression. Great Depression_sentence_48

Today there is also significant academic support for the debt deflation theory and the expectations hypothesis that — building on the monetary explanation of Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz — add non-monetary explanations. Great Depression_sentence_49

There is a consensus that the Federal Reserve System should have cut short the process of monetary deflation and banking collapse, by expanding the money supply and acting as lender of last resort. Great Depression_sentence_50

If they had done this, the economic downturn would have been far less severe and much shorter. Great Depression_sentence_51

Mainstream explanations Great Depression_section_3

Modern mainstream economists see the reasons in Great Depression_sentence_52

Great Depression_unordered_list_0

  • Insufficient demand from the private sector and insufficient fiscal spending (Keynesians).Great Depression_item_0_0
  • A money supply reduction (Monetarists) and therefore a banking crisis, reduction of credit and bankruptcies.Great Depression_item_0_1

Insufficient spending, the money supply reduction, and debt on margin led to falling prices and further bankruptcies (Irving Fisher's debt deflation). Great Depression_sentence_53

Keynesian View Great Depression_section_4

British economist John Maynard Keynes argued in The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money that lower aggregate expenditures in the economy contributed to a massive decline in income and to employment that was well below the average. Great Depression_sentence_54

In such a situation, the economy reached equilibrium at low levels of economic activity and high unemployment. Great Depression_sentence_55

Keynes's basic idea was simple: to keep people fully employed, governments have to run deficits when the economy is slowing, as the private sector would not invest enough to keep production at the normal level and bring the economy out of recession. Great Depression_sentence_56

Keynesian economists called on governments during times of economic crisis to pick up the slack by increasing government spending or cutting taxes. Great Depression_sentence_57

As the Depression wore on, Franklin D. Roosevelt tried public works, farm subsidies, and other devices to restart the U.S. economy, but never completely gave up trying to balance the budget. Great Depression_sentence_58

According to the Keynesians, this improved the economy, but Roosevelt never spent enough to bring the economy out of recession until the start of World War II. Great Depression_sentence_59

Monetarist View Great Depression_section_5

The monetarist explanation was given by American economists Milton Friedman and Anna J. Schwartz. Great Depression_sentence_60

They argued that the Great Depression was caused by the banking crisis that caused one-third of all banks to vanish, a reduction of bank shareholder wealth and more importantly monetary contraction of 35%, which they called "The Great Contraction". Great Depression_sentence_61

This caused a price drop of 33% (deflation). Great Depression_sentence_62

By not lowering interest rates, by not increasing the monetary base and by not injecting liquidity into the banking system to prevent it from crumbling, the Federal Reserve passively watched the transformation of a normal recession into the Great Depression. Great Depression_sentence_63

Friedman and Schwartz argued that the downward turn in the economy, starting with the stock market crash, would merely have been an ordinary recession if the Federal Reserve had taken aggressive action. Great Depression_sentence_64

This view was endorsed by Federal Reserve Governor Ben Bernanke in a speech honoring Friedman and Schwartz with this statement: Great Depression_sentence_65

The Federal Reserve allowed some large public bank failures – particularly that of the New York Bank of United States – which produced panic and widespread runs on local banks, and the Federal Reserve sat idly by while banks collapsed. Great Depression_sentence_66

Friedman and Schwartz argued that, if the Fed had provided emergency lending to these key banks, or simply bought government bonds on the open market to provide liquidity and increase the quantity of money after the key banks fell, all the rest of the banks would not have fallen after the large ones did, and the money supply would not have fallen as far and as fast as it did. Great Depression_sentence_67

With significantly less money to go around, businesses could not get new loans and could not even get their old loans renewed, forcing many to stop investing. Great Depression_sentence_68

This interpretation blames the Federal Reserve for inaction, especially the New York branch. Great Depression_sentence_69

One reason why the Federal Reserve did not act to limit the decline of the money supply was the gold standard. Great Depression_sentence_70

At that time, the amount of credit the Federal Reserve could issue was limited by the Federal Reserve Act, which required 40% gold backing of Federal Reserve Notes issued. Great Depression_sentence_71

By the late 1920s, the Federal Reserve had almost hit the limit of allowable credit that could be backed by the gold in its possession. Great Depression_sentence_72

This credit was in the form of Federal Reserve demand notes. Great Depression_sentence_73

A "promise of gold" is not as good as "gold in the hand", particularly when they only had enough gold to cover 40% of the Federal Reserve Notes outstanding. Great Depression_sentence_74

During the bank panics, a portion of those demand notes was redeemed for Federal Reserve gold. Great Depression_sentence_75

Since the Federal Reserve had hit its limit on allowable credit, any reduction in gold in its vaults had to be accompanied by a greater reduction in credit. Great Depression_sentence_76

On April 5, 1933, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6102 making the private ownership of gold certificates, coins and bullion illegal, reducing the pressure on Federal Reserve gold. Great Depression_sentence_77

Modern non-monetary explanations Great Depression_section_6

The monetary explanation has two weaknesses. Great Depression_sentence_78

First, it is not able to explain why the demand for money was falling more rapidly than the supply during the initial downturn in 1930–31. Great Depression_sentence_79

Second, it is not able to explain why in March 1933 a recovery took place although short term interest rates remained close to zero and the money supply was still falling. Great Depression_sentence_80

These questions are addressed by modern explanations that build on the monetary explanation of Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz but add non-monetary explanations. Great Depression_sentence_81

Debt deflation Great Depression_section_7

Irving Fisher argued that the predominant factor leading to the Great Depression was a vicious circle of deflation and growing over-indebtedness. Great Depression_sentence_82

He outlined nine factors interacting with one another under conditions of debt and deflation to create the mechanics of boom to bust. Great Depression_sentence_83

The chain of events proceeded as follows: Great Depression_sentence_84

Great Depression_ordered_list_1

  1. Debt liquidation and distress sellingGreat Depression_item_1_2
  2. Contraction of the money supply as bank loans are paid offGreat Depression_item_1_3
  3. A fall in the level of asset pricesGreat Depression_item_1_4
  4. A still greater fall in the net worth of businesses, precipitating bankruptciesGreat Depression_item_1_5
  5. A fall in profitsGreat Depression_item_1_6
  6. A reduction in output, in trade and in employmentGreat Depression_item_1_7
  7. Pessimism and loss of confidenceGreat Depression_item_1_8
  8. Hoarding of moneyGreat Depression_item_1_9
  9. A fall in nominal interest rates and a rise in deflation adjusted interest ratesGreat Depression_item_1_10

During the Crash of 1929 preceding the Great Depression, margin requirements were only 10%. Great Depression_sentence_85

Brokerage firms, in other words, would lend $9 for every $1 an investor had deposited. Great Depression_sentence_86

When the market fell, brokers called in these loans, which could not be paid back. Great Depression_sentence_87

Banks began to fail as debtors defaulted on debt and depositors attempted to withdraw their deposits en masse, triggering multiple bank runs. Great Depression_sentence_88

Government guarantees and Federal Reserve banking regulations to prevent such panics were ineffective or not used. Great Depression_sentence_89

Bank failures led to the loss of billions of dollars in assets. Great Depression_sentence_90

Outstanding debts became heavier, because prices and incomes fell by 20–50% but the debts remained at the same dollar amount. Great Depression_sentence_91

After the panic of 1929 and during the first 10 months of 1930, 744 U.S. banks failed. Great Depression_sentence_92

(In all, 9,000 banks failed during the 1930s.) Great Depression_sentence_93

By April 1933, around $7 billion in deposits had been frozen in failed banks or those left unlicensed after the March Bank Holiday. Great Depression_sentence_94

Bank failures snowballed as desperate bankers called in loans that borrowers did not have time or money to repay. Great Depression_sentence_95

With future profits looking poor, capital investment and construction slowed or completely ceased. Great Depression_sentence_96

In the face of bad loans and worsening future prospects, the surviving banks became even more conservative in their lending. Great Depression_sentence_97

Banks built up their capital reserves and made fewer loans, which intensified deflationary pressures. Great Depression_sentence_98

A vicious cycle developed and the downward spiral accelerated. Great Depression_sentence_99

The liquidation of debt could not keep up with the fall of prices that it caused. Great Depression_sentence_100

The mass effect of the stampede to liquidate increased the value of each dollar owed, relative to the value of declining asset holdings. Great Depression_sentence_101

The very effort of individuals to lessen their burden of debt effectively increased it. Great Depression_sentence_102

Paradoxically, the more the debtors paid, the more they owed. Great Depression_sentence_103

This self-aggravating process turned a 1930 recession into a 1933 great depression. Great Depression_sentence_104

Fisher's debt-deflation theory initially lacked mainstream influence because of the counter-argument that debt-deflation represented no more than a redistribution from one group (debtors) to another (creditors). Great Depression_sentence_105

Pure re-distributions should have no significant macroeconomic effects. Great Depression_sentence_106

Building on both the monetary hypothesis of Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz and the debt deflation hypothesis of Irving Fisher, Ben Bernanke developed an alternative way in which the financial crisis affected output. Great Depression_sentence_107

He builds on Fisher's argument that dramatic declines in the price level and nominal incomes lead to increasing real debt burdens, which in turn leads to debtor insolvency and consequently lowers aggregate demand; a further price level decline would then result in a debt deflationary spiral. Great Depression_sentence_108

According to Bernanke, a small decline in the price level simply reallocates wealth from debtors to creditors without doing damage to the economy. Great Depression_sentence_109

But when the deflation is severe, falling asset prices along with debtor bankruptcies lead to a decline in the nominal value of assets on bank balance sheets. Great Depression_sentence_110

Banks will react by tightening their credit conditions, which in turn leads to a credit crunch that seriously harms the economy. Great Depression_sentence_111

A credit crunch lowers investment and consumption, which results in declining aggregate demand and additionally contributes to the deflationary spiral. Great Depression_sentence_112

Expectations hypothesis Great Depression_section_8

Since economic mainstream turned to the new neoclassical synthesis, expectations are a central element of macroeconomic models. Great Depression_sentence_113

According to Peter Temin, Barry Wigmore, Gauti B. Eggertsson and Christina Romer, the key to recovery and to ending the Great Depression was brought about by a successful management of public expectations. Great Depression_sentence_114

The thesis is based on the observation that after years of deflation and a very severe recession important economic indicators turned positive in March 1933 when Franklin D. Roosevelt took office. Great Depression_sentence_115

Consumer prices turned from deflation to a mild inflation, industrial production bottomed out in March 1933, and investment doubled in 1933 with a turnaround in March 1933. Great Depression_sentence_116

There were no monetary forces to explain that turnaround. Great Depression_sentence_117

Money supply was still falling and short-term interest rates remained close to zero. Great Depression_sentence_118

Before March 1933, people expected further deflation and a recession so that even interest rates at zero did not stimulate investment. Great Depression_sentence_119

But when Roosevelt announced major regime changes, people began to expect inflation and an economic expansion. Great Depression_sentence_120

With these positive expectations, interest rates at zero began to stimulate investment just as they were expected to do. Great Depression_sentence_121

Roosevelt's fiscal and monetary policy regime change helped make his policy objectives credible. Great Depression_sentence_122

The expectation of higher future income and higher future inflation stimulated demand and investment. Great Depression_sentence_123

The analysis suggests that the elimination of the policy dogmas of the gold standard, a balanced budget in times of crisis and small government led endogenously to a large shift in expectation that accounts for about 70–80% of the recovery of output and prices from 1933 to 1937. Great Depression_sentence_124

If the regime change had not happened and the Hoover policy had continued, the economy would have continued its free fall in 1933, and output would have been 30% lower in 1937 than in 1933. Great Depression_sentence_125

The recession of 1937–38, which slowed down economic recovery from the Great Depression, is explained by fears of the population that the moderate tightening of the monetary and fiscal policy in 1937 were first steps to a restoration of the pre-1933 policy regime. Great Depression_sentence_126

Common position Great Depression_section_9

There is common consensus among economists today that the government and the central bank should work to keep the interconnected macroeconomic aggregates of gross domestic product and money supply on a stable growth path. Great Depression_sentence_127

When threatened by expectations of a depression, central banks should expand liquidity in the banking system and the government should cut taxes and accelerate spending in order to prevent a collapse in money supply and aggregate demand. Great Depression_sentence_128

At the beginning of the Great Depression, most economists believed in Say's law and the equilibrating powers of the market, and failed to understand the severity of the Depression. Great Depression_sentence_129

Outright leave-it-alone liquidationism was a common position, and was universally held by Austrian School economists. Great Depression_sentence_130

The liquidationist position held that a depression worked to liquidate failed businesses and investments that had been made obsolete by technological development – releasing factors of production (capital and labor) to be redeployed in other more productive sectors of the dynamic economy. Great Depression_sentence_131

They argued that even if self-adjustment of the economy caused mass bankruptcies, it was still the best course. Great Depression_sentence_132

Economists like Barry Eichengreen and J. Great Depression_sentence_133 Bradford DeLong note that President Herbert Hoover tried to keep the federal budget balanced until 1932, when he lost confidence in his Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon and replaced him. Great Depression_sentence_134

An increasingly common view among economic historians is that the adherence of many Federal Reserve policymakers to the liquidationist position led to disastrous consequences. Great Depression_sentence_135

Unlike what liquidationists expected, a large proportion of the capital stock was not redeployed but vanished during the first years of the Great Depression. Great Depression_sentence_136

According to a study by Olivier Blanchard and Lawrence Summers, the recession caused a drop of net capital accumulation to pre-1924 levels by 1933. Great Depression_sentence_137

Milton Friedman called leave-it-alone liquidationism "dangerous nonsense". Great Depression_sentence_138

He wrote: Great Depression_sentence_139

Heterodox theories Great Depression_section_10

Austrian School Great Depression_section_11

Two prominent theorists in the Austrian School on the Great Depression include Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek and American economist Murray Rothbard, who wrote America's Great Depression (1963). Great Depression_sentence_140

In their view, much like the monetarists, the Federal Reserve (created in 1913) shoulders much of the blame; however, unlike the Monetarists, they argue that the key cause of the Depression was the expansion of the money supply in the 1920s which led to an unsustainable credit-driven boom. Great Depression_sentence_141

In the Austrian view, it was this inflation of the money supply that led to an unsustainable boom in both asset prices (stocks and bonds) and capital goods. Great Depression_sentence_142

Therefore, by the time the Federal Reserve tightened in 1928 it was far too late to prevent an economic contraction. Great Depression_sentence_143

In February 1929 Hayek published a paper predicting the Federal Reserve's actions would lead to a crisis starting in the stock and credit markets. Great Depression_sentence_144

According to Rothbard, the government support for failed enterprises and efforts to keep wages above their market values actually prolonged the Depression. Great Depression_sentence_145

Unlike Rothbard, after 1970 Hayek believed that the Federal Reserve had further contributed to the problems of the Depression by permitting the money supply to shrink during the earliest years of the Depression. Great Depression_sentence_146

However, during the Depression (in 1932 and in 1934) Hayek had criticized both the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England for not taking a more contractionary stance. Great Depression_sentence_147

Hans Sennholz argued that most boom and busts that plagued the American economy, such as those in 1819–20, 1839–43, 1857–60, 1873–78, 1893–97, and 1920–21, were generated by government creating a boom through easy money and credit, which was soon followed by the inevitable bust. Great Depression_sentence_148

The spectacular crash of 1929 followed five years of reckless credit expansion by the Federal Reserve System under the Coolidge Administration. Great Depression_sentence_149

The passing of the Sixteenth Amendment, the passage of The Federal Reserve Act, rising government deficits, the passage of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act, and the Revenue Act of 1932, exacerbated and prolonged the crisis. Great Depression_sentence_150

Ludwig von Mises wrote in the 1930s: "Credit expansion cannot increase the supply of real goods. Great Depression_sentence_151

It merely brings about a rearrangement. Great Depression_sentence_152

It diverts capital investment away from the course prescribed by the state of economic wealth and market conditions. Great Depression_sentence_153

It causes production to pursue paths which it would not follow unless the economy were to acquire an increase in material goods. Great Depression_sentence_154

As a result, the upswing lacks a solid base. Great Depression_sentence_155

It is not real prosperity. Great Depression_sentence_156

It is illusory prosperity. Great Depression_sentence_157

It did not develop from an increase in economic wealth, i.e. the accumulation of savings made available for productive investment. Great Depression_sentence_158

Rather, it arose because the credit expansion created the illusion of such an increase. Great Depression_sentence_159

Sooner or later, it must become apparent that this economic situation is built on sand." Great Depression_sentence_160

Inequality Great Depression_section_12

Two economists of the 1920s, Waddill Catchings and William Trufant Foster, popularized a theory that influenced many policy makers, including Herbert Hoover, Henry A. Wallace, Paul Douglas, and Marriner Eccles. Great Depression_sentence_161

It held the economy produced more than it consumed, because the consumers did not have enough income. Great Depression_sentence_162

Thus the unequal distribution of wealth throughout the 1920s caused the Great Depression. Great Depression_sentence_163

According to this view, the root cause of the Great Depression was a global over-investment in heavy industry capacity compared to wages and earnings from independent businesses, such as farms. Great Depression_sentence_164

The proposed solution was for the government to pump money into the consumers' pockets. Great Depression_sentence_165

That is, it must redistribute purchasing power, maintaining the industrial base, and re-inflating prices and wages to force as much of the inflationary increase in purchasing power into consumer spending. Great Depression_sentence_166

The economy was overbuilt, and new factories were not needed. Great Depression_sentence_167

Foster and Catchings recommended federal and state governments to start large construction projects, a program followed by Hoover and Roosevelt. Great Depression_sentence_168

Productivity shock Great Depression_section_13

The first three decades of the 20th century saw economic output surge with electrification, mass production, and motorized farm machinery, and because of the rapid growth in productivity there was a lot of excess production capacity and the work week was being reduced. Great Depression_sentence_169

The dramatic rise in productivity of major industries in the U.S. and the effects of productivity on output, wages and the workweek are discussed by Spurgeon Bell in his book Productivity, Wages, and National Income (1940). Great Depression_sentence_170

The gold standard and the spreading of global depression Great Depression_section_14

The gold standard was the primary transmission mechanism of the Great Depression. Great Depression_sentence_171

Even countries that did not face bank failures and a monetary contraction first hand were forced to join the deflationary policy since higher interest rates in countries that performed a deflationary policy led to a gold outflow in countries with lower interest rates. Great Depression_sentence_172

Under the gold standard's price–specie flow mechanism, countries that lost gold but nevertheless wanted to maintain the gold standard had to permit their money supply to decrease and the domestic price level to decline (deflation). Great Depression_sentence_173

There is also consensus that protectionist policies such as the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act helped to worsen the depression. Great Depression_sentence_174

Gold standard Great Depression_section_15

Some economic studies have indicated that just as the downturn was spread worldwide by the rigidities of the gold standard, it was suspending gold convertibility (or devaluing the currency in gold terms) that did the most to make recovery possible. Great Depression_sentence_175

Every major currency left the gold standard during the Great Depression. Great Depression_sentence_176

The UK was the first to do so. Great Depression_sentence_177

Facing speculative attacks on the pound and depleting gold reserves, in September 1931 the Bank of England ceased exchanging pound notes for gold and the pound was floated on foreign exchange markets. Great Depression_sentence_178

Japan and the Scandinavian countries joined the UK in leaving the gold standard in 1931. Great Depression_sentence_179

Other countries, such as Italy and the US, remained on the gold standard into 1932 or 1933, while a few countries in the so-called "gold bloc", led by France and including Poland, Belgium and Switzerland, stayed on the standard until 1935–36. Great Depression_sentence_180

According to later analysis, the earliness with which a country left the gold standard reliably predicted its economic recovery. Great Depression_sentence_181

For example, The UK and Scandinavia, which left the gold standard in 1931, recovered much earlier than France and Belgium, which remained on gold much longer. Great Depression_sentence_182

Countries such as China, which had a silver standard, almost avoided the depression entirely. Great Depression_sentence_183

The connection between leaving the gold standard as a strong predictor of that country's severity of its depression and the length of time of its recovery has been shown to be consistent for dozens of countries, including developing countries. Great Depression_sentence_184

This partly explains why the experience and length of the depression differed between regions and states across the world. Great Depression_sentence_185

Breakdown of international trade Great Depression_section_16

Many economists have argued that the sharp decline in international trade after 1930 helped to worsen the depression, especially for countries significantly dependent on foreign trade. Great Depression_sentence_186

In a 1995 survey of American economic historians, two-thirds agreed that the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act (enacted June 17, 1930) at least worsened the Great Depression. Great Depression_sentence_187

Most historians and economists blame this Act for worsening the depression by seriously reducing international trade and causing retaliatory tariffs in other countries. Great Depression_sentence_188

While foreign trade was a small part of overall economic activity in the U.S. and was concentrated in a few businesses like farming, it was a much larger factor in many other countries. Great Depression_sentence_189

The average ad valorem rate of duties on dutiable imports for 1921–25 was 25.9% but under the new tariff it jumped to 50% during 1931–35. Great Depression_sentence_190

In dollar terms, American exports declined over the next four (4) years from about $5.2 billion in 1929 to $1.7 billion in 1933; so, not only did the physical volume of exports fall, but also the prices fell by about 1/3 as written. Great Depression_sentence_191

Hardest hit were farm commodities such as wheat, cotton, tobacco, and lumber. Great Depression_sentence_192

Governments around the world took various steps into spending less money on foreign goods such as: "imposing tariffs, import quotas, and exchange controls". Great Depression_sentence_193

These restrictions triggered much tension among countries that had large amounts of bilateral trade, causing major export-import reductions during the depression. Great Depression_sentence_194

Not all governments enforced the same measures of protectionism. Great Depression_sentence_195

Some countries raised tariffs drastically and enforced severe restrictions on foreign exchange transactions, while other countries reduced "trade and exchange restrictions only marginally": Great Depression_sentence_196

Great Depression_unordered_list_2

  • "Countries that remained on the gold standard, keeping currencies fixed, were more likely to restrict foreign trade." These countries "resorted to protectionist policies to strengthen the balance of payments and limit gold losses." They hoped that these restrictions and depletions would hold the economic decline.Great Depression_item_2_11
  • Countries that abandoned the gold standard, allowed their currencies to depreciate which caused their balance of payments to strengthen. It also freed up monetary policy so that central banks could lower interest rates and act as lenders of last resort. They possessed the best policy instruments to fight the Depression and did not need protectionism.Great Depression_item_2_12
  • "The length and depth of a country's economic downturn and the timing and vigor of its recovery are related to how long it remained on the gold standard. Countries abandoning the gold standard relatively early experienced relatively mild recessions and early recoveries. In contrast, countries remaining on the gold standard experienced prolonged slumps."Great Depression_item_2_13

Effect of tariffs Great Depression_section_17

See also: Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act Great Depression_sentence_197

The consensus view among economists and economic historians (including Keynesians, Monetarists and Austrian economists) is that the passage of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff exacerbated the Great Depression, although there is disagreement as to how much. Great Depression_sentence_198

In the popular view, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff was a leading cause of the depression. Great Depression_sentence_199

According to the U.S. Senate website the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act is among the most catastrophic acts in congressional history Great Depression_sentence_200

German banking crisis of 1931 and British crisis Great Depression_section_18

The financial crisis escalated out of control in mid-1931, starting with the collapse of the Credit Anstalt in Vienna in May. Great Depression_sentence_201

This put heavy pressure on Germany, which was already in political turmoil. Great Depression_sentence_202

With the rise in violence of Nazi and communist movements, as well as investor nervousness at harsh government financial policies. Great Depression_sentence_203

Investors withdrew their short-term money from Germany, as confidence spiraled downward. Great Depression_sentence_204

The Reichsbank lost 150 million marks in the first week of June, 540 million in the second, and 150 million in two days, June 19–20. Great Depression_sentence_205

Collapse was at hand. Great Depression_sentence_206

U.S. President Herbert Hoover called for a moratorium on Payment of war reparations. Great Depression_sentence_207

This angered Paris, which depended on a steady flow of German payments, but it slowed the crisis down, and the moratorium was agreed to in July 1931. Great Depression_sentence_208

An International conference in London later in July produced no agreements but on August 19 a standstill agreement froze Germany's foreign liabilities for six months. Great Depression_sentence_209

Germany received emergency funding from private banks in New York as well as the Bank of International Settlements and the Bank of England. Great Depression_sentence_210

The funding only slowed the process. Great Depression_sentence_211

Industrial failures began in Germany, a major bank closed in July and a two-day holiday for all German banks was declared. Great Depression_sentence_212

Business failures were more frequent in July, and spread to Romania and Hungary. Great Depression_sentence_213

The crisis continued to get worse in Germany, bringing political upheaval that finally led to the coming to power of Hitler's Nazi regime in January 1933. Great Depression_sentence_214

The world financial crisis now began to overwhelm Britain; investors across the world started withdrawing their gold from London at the rate of £2.5 million per day. Great Depression_sentence_215

Credits of £25 million each from the Bank of France and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and an issue of £15 million fiduciary note slowed, but did not reverse the British crisis. Great Depression_sentence_216

The financial crisis now caused a major political crisis in Britain in August 1931. Great Depression_sentence_217

With deficits mounting, the bankers demanded a balanced budget; the divided cabinet of Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald's Labour government agreed; it proposed to raise taxes, cut spending, and most controversially, to cut unemployment benefits 20%. Great Depression_sentence_218

The attack on welfare was unacceptable to the Labour movement. Great Depression_sentence_219

MacDonald wanted to resign, but King George V insisted he remain and form an all-party coalition "National Government". Great Depression_sentence_220

The Conservative and Liberals parties signed on, along with a small cadre of Labour, but the vast majority of Labour leaders denounced MacDonald as a traitor for leading the new government. Great Depression_sentence_221

Britain went off the gold standard, and suffered relatively less than other major countries in the Great Depression. Great Depression_sentence_222

In the 1931 British election, the Labour Party was virtually destroyed, leaving MacDonald as Prime Minister for a largely Conservative coalition. Great Depression_sentence_223

Turning point and recovery Great Depression_section_19

In most countries of the world, recovery from the Great Depression began in 1933. Great Depression_sentence_224

In the U.S., recovery began in early 1933, but the U.S. did not return to 1929 GNP for over a decade and still had an unemployment rate of about 15% in 1940, albeit down from the high of 25% in 1933. Great Depression_sentence_225

There is no consensus among economists regarding the motive force for the U.S. economic expansion that continued through most of the Roosevelt years (and the 1937 recession that interrupted it). Great Depression_sentence_226

The common view among most economists is that Roosevelt's New Deal policies either caused or accelerated the recovery, although his policies were never aggressive enough to bring the economy completely out of recession. Great Depression_sentence_227

Some economists have also called attention to the positive effects from expectations of reflation and rising nominal interest rates that Roosevelt's words and actions portended. Great Depression_sentence_228

It was the rollback of those same reflationary policies that led to the interruption of a recession beginning in late 1937. Great Depression_sentence_229

One contributing policy that reversed reflation was the Banking Act of 1935, which effectively raised reserve requirements, causing a monetary contraction that helped to thwart the recovery. Great Depression_sentence_230

GDP returned to its upward trend in 1938. Great Depression_sentence_231

According to Christina Romer, the money supply growth caused by huge international gold inflows was a crucial source of the recovery of the United States economy, and that the economy showed little sign of self-correction. Great Depression_sentence_232

The gold inflows were partly due to devaluation of the U.S. dollar and partly due to deterioration of the political situation in Europe. Great Depression_sentence_233

In their book, A Monetary History of the United States, Milton Friedman and Anna J. Schwartz also attributed the recovery to monetary factors, and contended that it was much slowed by poor management of money by the Federal Reserve System. Great Depression_sentence_234

Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke agreed that monetary factors played important roles both in the worldwide economic decline and eventual recovery. Great Depression_sentence_235

Bernanke also saw a strong role for institutional factors, particularly the rebuilding and restructuring of the financial system, and pointed out that the Depression should be examined in an international perspective. Great Depression_sentence_236

Role of women and household economics Great Depression_section_20

Women's primary role was as housewives; without a steady flow of family income, their work became much harder in dealing with food and clothing and medical care. Great Depression_sentence_237

Birthrates fell everywhere, as children were postponed until families could financially support them. Great Depression_sentence_238

The average birthrate for 14 major countries fell 12% from 19.3 births per thousand population in 1930, to 17.0 in 1935. Great Depression_sentence_239

In Canada, half of Roman Catholic women defied Church teachings and used contraception to postpone births. Great Depression_sentence_240

Among the few women in the labor force, layoffs were less common in the white-collar jobs and they were typically found in light manufacturing work. Great Depression_sentence_241

However, there was a widespread demand to limit families to one paid job, so that wives might lose employment if their husband was employed. Great Depression_sentence_242

Across Britain, there was a tendency for married women to join the labor force, competing for part-time jobs especially. Great Depression_sentence_243

In France, very slow population growth, especially in comparison to Germany continued to be a serious issue in the 1930s. Great Depression_sentence_244

Support for increasing welfare programs during the depression included a focus on women in the family. Great Depression_sentence_245

The Conseil Supérieur de la Natalité campaigned for provisions enacted in the Code de la Famille (1939) that increased state assistance to families with children and required employers to protect the jobs of fathers, even if they were immigrants. Great Depression_sentence_246

In rural and small-town areas, women expanded their operation of vegetable gardens to include as much food production as possible. Great Depression_sentence_247

In the United States, agricultural organizations sponsored programs to teach housewives how to optimize their gardens and to raise poultry for meat and eggs. Great Depression_sentence_248

Rural women made feed sack dresses and other items for themselves and their families and homes from feed sacks. Great Depression_sentence_249

In American cities, African American women quiltmakers enlarged their activities, promoted collaboration, and trained neophytes. Great Depression_sentence_250

Quilts were created for practical use from various inexpensive materials and increased social interaction for women and promoted camaraderie and personal fulfillment. Great Depression_sentence_251

Oral history provides evidence for how housewives in a modern industrial city handled shortages of money and resources. Great Depression_sentence_252

Often they updated strategies their mothers used when they were growing up in poor families. Great Depression_sentence_253

Cheap foods were used, such as soups, beans and noodles. Great Depression_sentence_254

They purchased the cheapest cuts of meat—sometimes even horse meat—and recycled the Sunday roast into sandwiches and soups. Great Depression_sentence_255

They sewed and patched clothing, traded with their neighbors for outgrown items, and made do with colder homes. Great Depression_sentence_256

New furniture and appliances were postponed until better days. Great Depression_sentence_257

Many women also worked outside the home, or took boarders, did laundry for trade or cash, and did sewing for neighbors in exchange for something they could offer. Great Depression_sentence_258

Extended families used mutual aid—extra food, spare rooms, repair-work, cash loans—to help cousins and in-laws. Great Depression_sentence_259

In Japan, official government policy was deflationary and the opposite of Keynesian spending. Great Depression_sentence_260

Consequently, the government launched a campaign across the country to induce households to reduce their consumption, focusing attention on spending by housewives. Great Depression_sentence_261

In Germany, the government tried to reshape private household consumption under the Four-Year Plan of 1936 to achieve German economic self-sufficiency. Great Depression_sentence_262

The Nazi women's organizations, other propaganda agencies and the authorities all attempted to shape such consumption as economic self-sufficiency was needed to prepare for and to sustain the coming war. Great Depression_sentence_263

The organizations, propaganda agencies and authorities employed slogans that called up traditional values of thrift and healthy living. Great Depression_sentence_264

However, these efforts were only partly successful in changing the behavior of housewives. Great Depression_sentence_265

World War II and recovery Great Depression_section_21

The common view among economic historians is that the Great Depression ended with the advent of World War II. Great Depression_sentence_266

Many economists believe that government spending on the war caused or at least accelerated recovery from the Great Depression, though some consider that it did not play a very large role in the recovery, though it did help in reducing unemployment. Great Depression_sentence_267

The rearmament policies leading up to World War II helped stimulate the economies of Europe in 1937–39. Great Depression_sentence_268

By 1937, unemployment in Britain had fallen to 1.5 million. Great Depression_sentence_269

The mobilization of manpower following the outbreak of war in 1939 ended unemployment. Great Depression_sentence_270

When the United States entered the war in 1941, it finally eliminated the last effects from the Great Depression and brought the U.S. unemployment rate down below 10%. Great Depression_sentence_271

In the US, massive war spending doubled economic growth rates, either masking the effects of the Depression or essentially ending the Depression. Great Depression_sentence_272

Businessmen ignored the mounting national debt and heavy new taxes, redoubling their efforts for greater output to take advantage of generous government contracts. Great Depression_sentence_273

Socio-economic effects Great Depression_section_22

Literature Great Depression_section_23

The Great Depression has been the subject of much writing, as authors have sought to evaluate an era that caused both financial and emotional trauma. Great Depression_sentence_274

Perhaps the most noteworthy and famous novel written on the subject is The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and written by John Steinbeck, who was awarded both the Nobel Prize for literature and the Pulitzer Prize for the work. Great Depression_sentence_275

The novel focuses on a poor family of sharecroppers who are forced from their home as drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agricultural industry occur during the Great Depression. Great Depression_sentence_276

Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is another important novella about a journey during the Great Depression. Great Depression_sentence_277

Additionally, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is set during the Great Depression. Great Depression_sentence_278

Margaret Atwood's Booker prize-winning The Blind Assassin is likewise set in the Great Depression, centering on a privileged socialite's love affair with a Marxist revolutionary. Great Depression_sentence_279

The era spurred the resurgence of social realism, practiced by many who started their writing careers on relief programs, especially the Federal Writers' Project in the U.S. Great Depression_sentence_280

A number of works for younger audiences are also set during the Great Depression, among them the Kit Kittredge series of American Girl books written by Valerie Tripp and illustrated by Walter Rane, released to tie in with the dolls and playsets sold by the company. Great Depression_sentence_281

The stories, which take place during the early to mid 1930s in Cincinnati, focuses on the changes brought by the Depression to the titular character's family and how the Kittredges dealt with it. Great Depression_sentence_282

A theatrical adaptation of the series entitled Kit Kittredge: An American Girl was later released in 2008 to positive reviews. Great Depression_sentence_283

Similarly, Christmas After All, part of the Dear America series of books for older girls, take place in 1930s Indianapolis; while Kit Kittredge is told in a third-person viewpoint, Christmas After All is in the form of a fictional journal as told by the protagonist Minnie Swift as she recounts her experiences during the era, especially when her family takes in an orphan cousin from Texas. Great Depression_sentence_284

Naming Great Depression_section_24

Further information: Depression (economics) Great Depression_sentence_285

The term "The Great Depression" is most frequently attributed to British economist Lionel Robbins, whose 1934 book The Great Depression is credited with formalizing the phrase, though Hoover is widely credited with popularizing the term, informally referring to the downturn as a depression, with such uses as "Economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement" (December 1930, Message to Congress), and "I need not recount to you that the world is passing through a great depression" (1931). Great Depression_sentence_286

The term "depression" to refer to an economic downturn dates to the 19th century, when it was used by varied Americans and British politicians and economists. Great Depression_sentence_287

Indeed, the first major American economic crisis, the Panic of 1819, was described by then-president James Monroe as "a depression", and the most recent economic crisis, the Depression of 1920–21, had been referred to as a "depression" by then-president Calvin Coolidge. Great Depression_sentence_288

Financial crises were traditionally referred to as "panics", most recently the major Panic of 1907, and the minor Panic of 1910–11, though the 1929 crisis was called "The Crash", and the term "panic" has since fallen out of use. Great Depression_sentence_289

At the time of the Great Depression, the term "The Great Depression" was already used to refer to the period 1873–96 (in the United Kingdom), or more narrowly 1873–79 (in the United States), which has retroactively been renamed the Long Depression. Great Depression_sentence_290

Other "great depressions" Great Depression_section_25

Other economic downturns have been called a "great depression", but none had been as widespread, or lasted for so long. Great Depression_sentence_291

Various states have experienced brief or extended periods of economic downturns, which were referred to as "depressions", but none have had such a widespread global impact. Great Depression_sentence_292

The collapse of the Soviet Union, and the breakdown of economic ties which followed, led to a severe economic crisis and catastrophic fall in the standards of living in the 1990s in post-Soviet states and the former Eastern Bloc, which was even worse than the Great Depression. Great Depression_sentence_293

Even before Russia's financial crisis of 1998, Russia's GDP was half of what it had been in the early 1990s, and some populations are still poorer as of 2009 than they were in 1989, including Moldova, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. Great Depression_sentence_294

Comparison with the Great Recession Great Depression_section_26

Main article: Comparisons between the Great Recession and the Great Depression Great Depression_sentence_295

The worldwide economic decline after 2008 has been compared to the 1930s. Great Depression_sentence_296

The causes of the Great Recession seem similar to the Great Depression, but significant differences exist. Great Depression_sentence_297

The previous chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, had extensively studied the Great Depression as part of his doctoral work at MIT, and implemented policies to manipulate the money supply and interest rates in ways that were not done in the 1930s. Great Depression_sentence_298

Bernanke's policies will undoubtedly be analyzed and scrutinized in the years to come, as economists debate the wisdom of his choices. Great Depression_sentence_299

Generally speaking, the recovery of the world's financial systems tended to be quicker during the Great Depression of the 1930s as opposed to the late-2000s recession. Great Depression_sentence_300

1928 and 1929 were the times in the 20th century that the wealth gap reached such skewed extremes; half the unemployed had been out of work for over six months, something that was not repeated until the late-2000s recession. Great Depression_sentence_301

2007 and 2008 eventually saw the world reach new levels of wealth gap inequality that rivalled the years of 1928 and 1929. Great Depression_sentence_302

See also Great Depression_section_27

General Great Depression_section_28

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Depression.