Great Depression

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Great Depression
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Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother depicts destitute pea pickers in California, centering on Florence Owens Thompson, age 32, a mother of seven children, in Nipomo, California, March 1936. The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression) in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s.[1] It was the longest, most widespread, and deepest depression of the 20th century, and is used in the 21st century as an example of how far the world's economy can decline.[2] The depression originated in the United States, starting with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929 (known as Black Tuesday), but quickly spread to almost every country in the world.[1] Countries started to recover by the mid-1930s, but in many countries the negative effects of the Great Depression lasted until the start of World War II.[8] {draw:frame}

USA annual real GDP from 1910–60, with the years of the Great Depression (1929–1939) highlighted. {draw:frame}
Unemployment rate in the US 1910–1960, with the years of the Great Depression (1929–1939) highlighted. Start of the Great Depression
US industrial production (1928–39).
{draw:frame} US Farm Prices, (1928–35).
See also: Timeline of the Great Depression
Historians most often attribute the start of the Great Depression to the sudden and total collapse of US stock market prices on October 29th, 1929, known as Black Tuesday.[1] However, some dispute this conclusion, and see the stock crash as a symptom, rather than a cause of the Great Depression.[9][3] Even after the Wall Street Crash of 1929, optimism persisted for some time; John D. Rockefeller said that "These are days when many are discouraged. In the 93 years of my life, depressions have come and gone. Prosperity has always returned and will again."[10] The stock market turned upward in early 1930, returning to early 1929 levels by April, though still almost 30% below the peak of September 1929.[11] Together, government and business actually spent more in the first half of 1930 than in the corresponding period of the previous year. But consumers, many of whom had suffered severe losses in the stock market the previous year, cut back their expenditures by ten percent, and a severe drought ravaged the agricultural heartland of the USA beginning in the summer of 1930. By mid-1930, interest rates had dropped to low levels, but expected deflation and the reluctance of people to add new debt by borrowing, meant that consumer spending and investment were depressed.[12] In May 1930, automobile sales had declined to below the levels of 1928. Prices in general began to decline, but wages held steady in 1930; but then a deflationary spiral started in 1931. Conditions were worse in farming areas, where commodity prices plunged, and in mining and logging areas, where unemployment was high and there were few other jobs. The decline in the US 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. Frantic attempts to shore up the economies of individual nations through protectionist policies, such as the 1930 U.S. Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act and retaliatory tariffs in other countries, exacerbated the collapse in global trade. By late in 1930, a steady decline set in which reached bottom by March 1933. {draw:frame} Causes

Crowd gathering on Wall Street after the 1929 crash.
Main article: Causes of the Great Depression
There were multiple causes for the first downturn in 1929, including the structural weaknesses and specific events that turned it into a major depression and the way in which the downturn spread from country to country. In relation to the 1929 downturn, historians emphasize...
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