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The Great Depression Essay, Research Paper

ID402Unit III 2. Select three of the following social changes that occurred between 1935-1966 from Greer and supplement Greer’s description of them. Describe each of these changes in some detail. Response: The Great Depression In the years following W.W.I, the United States enjoyed an economic boom that made it the strongest capitalist nation on earth. “Then President Warren G. Harding referred to the period of the 1920’s as the decade of normalcy” (Greer, 578). Postwar prosperity was driven by unstable and inflationary forces, but it would take only a matter of hours for it all to come crashing down. It did so on a Friday in September 1929. This signaled the beginning of the Great Depression. The country was now under the leadership of Herbert Hoover and he continued to reassure the public that an economic upturn was right around the corner. “Capitalist societies throughout history had endured countless downtrends which were normally followed by upswings in the economy” (Greer, 514). This was not to be the case with the Great Depression. “By the winter of 1932-1933, physical production had fallen by forty percent form the 1929 level; wages were down by the same amount; farm income was down fifty percent; construction was at a nearly complete standstill; and fifteen million people were unemployed” (Greer 578). The sudden economic downturn in the United States had a devastating effect on the entire world. Long-term loans by the U.S. government and private citizens dropped sixty-eight percent from the time of the Crash in 1929 until 1933. Such loans ceased entirely from 1933 until early into the next decade. The massive withdrawal of funds from American sources drastically affected countries around the world. The world’s gold standard was dealt a fatal blow; imports and exports were thrown out of balance through reduced purchasing power and exorbitant tariffs; and widespread unemployment was the global norm.

In the United States, a major domestic policy shift took place as the result of the Great Depression. The traditional position of limited interference by the government was replaced with a policy of responsibility for the general public welfare. “This shift in policy came into being during the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt through social welfare programs known as the New Deal” (Greer, 579). Rather than working together with the other industrial nations of Western Europe to create a program for international recovery, the New Deal focused only on domestic remedies for America’s fallen economy. International economic recovery was achieved through massive armaments buildup in the late 1930’s, not through economic measures. Once again, war was to be the stimulus for economic growth and prosperity.

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