The Great Depression
While the Great Depression originated in the United States, almost every other nation was affected by this economic downturn. The starting date- as agreed upon by most history scholars- was October 29, 1929 and its direct effects lasted into the 1940’s.
Cities around the world –particularly those whose economy depended on heavy construction- were devastated as all building ground to a quick halt. Crop demand dropped tremendously, hurting farms and rural areas that-even in the best of times- had a weak economy. It was equally unfortunate that a great drought hit the Midwest United States at the same time and continued for several years; this period is often referred to as the Dust Bowl.
Most countries set up relief programs and enacted programs similar to Roosevelt’s New Deal. After the United States, Canada an Australia were extremely hard hit as they depended on agricultural and industrial exports to the United States. Germany, who was already suffering great inflation stemming from the aftermath of World War I and the harsh demands of the Versailles treaty, fell into greater depression when the money from the United States loan dried up. This serious economic upheaval would lead to the popularity of the Nazi party and the rise of Adolph Hitler.
In Britain the effects of the Great depression were almost immediate. The loss of demand for industrial goods from its major importer, the United States, sent Britain’s economy spiraling down, with unemployment peaking at 70% in the northern regions and Scotland.
The Great Depression had many consequences- wars, political upheavals and a change in the amount of control governments have in the economic sector, It saw the introduction of Keynesian economics in the United States which emphasize a more socialistic approach. It also saw the devaluation of the dollar and the removal of the Gold Standard –worldwide.
While there have been many depressions since 1929, none have had the worldwide impact and transforming effects that the Great Depression did.
Schultz, Stanley, Kusher, William “American History 102 Lecture 18: Crashing Hopes- The Great Depression” retrieved on June 9,2009 from http://us.history.wisc.edu/hist102/lectures/ lecture18.html
“Great Depression and World War II” retrieved on June 9, 2009 from http://memory.loc.gov/learn /features/timeline/depwwii/depwar.html