1. Overproduction 2. Banking & Money Policies 3

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Transcript 1. Overproduction 2. Banking & Money Policies 3

Causes of
The Great Depression
The Great
is one of the
events in
Myths and Misconceptions
• Many people believe that the crash of the stock market was the cause of the
Depression. Not so, it was only a symptom.
• Many people also believe that Herbert Hoover’s laissez-fair economic
philosophy prevented the federal government from taking steps to prevent the
crisis. Hoover was proactive in trying to ease the impact of the depression, it
was too little, too late.
• Many people think that the Great Depression was the only major economic
crisis in U.S. history. Nope, but it was the worst.
• Many people do not realize that the Depression was global and affected almost
every capitalist economy on earth
• Some believe that FDR and the New Deal ended the Depression. Wrong
again, WWII ended the Depression
The Facts
• In September of 1929 the U.S. economy began showing signs of contraction
(decline from the growth of the 1920’s)
• August 1929, recession begins, GDP falls by and unemployment rises.
• Automobile sales fall 30% in 1929.
• By 1929 farm incomes fall more than 50%
• September 1929 stock prices begin to fall, the market crash on Black Tuesday
October 29th losing 90% of its value by 1932.
• By 1932 US GDP fell 30%
• 1929-1932 US factory production fell 46%
• 1929-1932 US wholesale prices fell 32%
• 1929-1932 US exports fell 70%
• 1929-1932 US unemployment will reach 25% (33% in some regions)
The Great Depression was not
the country’s first depression,
though it proved to be the
longest and most severe.
In the first four years of
the Depression,
real economic output
(Gross Domestic Product)
fell by 30%
from 1929 to 1933.
The U.S. Stock Market
lost 90% of its value.
Many did not realize how severe the
downturn was until 1932, when the
economy had technically “hit bottom.”
But the human
continued long
into the
late 1930s…
“Brother Can You Spare a Dime?”
Once I built a railroad, I made it run
I made it race against time
Once I built a railroad, now it's done
Brother, can you spare a dime?
Once I built a tower, up to the sun
Bricks and mortar and lime
Once I built a tower, now it's done
Brother, can you spare a dime?
There are several
explanations, but the most
obvious causes are four:
Banking & Money Policies
Stock Market Actions
Political decisions
1. Over-production:
The “roaring twenties” was
an era when our country
prospered tremendously.
Average output per worker
increased 32% in
manufacturing and corporate
profits rose 62%.
But in reality there existed:
* Underconsumption of these
goods here and abroad,
because people didn’t have
enough cash to buy all they
* There still existed an
uneven distribution
of wealth and income.
Americas’ farms were
overproducing, as well.
World War I,
with European
farms in ruin,
the American
farm was a
Increased food
production during
World War I was
an economic
“boom” for many
farmers, who
borrowed money
to enlarge and
their farms.
So, to summarize it,
for consumer goods
agricultural products
led to
2. Banking & Money
The uneven
of wealth
didn’t stop
the poor and
middle class
from wanting
to possess
luxury items,
such as cars
and radios…
Although wages were not keeping up
with the prices of those
goods…”buying on credit”
offer a solutions!
By the end of the 1920s,
60% of the cars and 80%
of the radios were bought
on installment credit.
The Federal Reserve
was created
by Congress
in response to the
Banking Crisis of 1907.
The Federal Reserve
was suppose to serve as a
protective “watchdog”
of the nation’s economy.
It had the power to set
the interest rate for loans
issued by banks.
So,to summarize,
banking policies
which offered
“buying on credit”
first with
lower interest rates,
then raising those rates,
caused a dangerous situation
in the economy.
Buying on Credit
personal debt.
Higher interest rates
for goods.
The Stock Market was an
indicator of national prosperity.
The Stock Market
growth in the 1920s
tells a story of
runaway optimism
for the future.
Small investors were
more apt to invest in
the Stock Market
in large numbers
because the
“margin requirement”
was only 10%.
George Olsen and his Music
"I'm In The Market For You”
I'll have to see my broker
Find out what he can do.
'Cause I'm in the market for you.
With margin I'm all through.
'Cause I want you outright it's true.
We'll count the hugs and kisses,
When dividends are due,
'Cause I'm in the market for you.
As business was
booming in the 1920s
and stock prices
kept rising
with businesses’
growing profits,
buying stocks
on margin
functioned like buying
a car on credit.
The extensive
that took place
in the late 1920s
kept stock prices high,
but the balloon
was due to burst…
So what went wrong?
The Crash:
“Black Tuesday”
Oct. 29, 1929,
Stock Market
Over 16
million shares
sold in massive
selling frenzy.
$26 billion.
The Stock Market
Crash of 1929
was only a symptomnot the cause of the
Great Depression.
Buying on Margin
was a
risky market
Bank loans for
stock purchases
was an
unsound practice.
More Poor
Banking Policies…
The Federal Reserve was
also established to prevent
bank closings.
It was suppose to serve
as the “last resort” loaner
to banks on the verge of
In early 1930, there were
60 bank failures per month.
Eventually, 9,000 banks
closed their doors between
1930 and 1933.
Simply put, when a bank
fails, a large amount of
money disappears
from the economy.
There was no insurance for
depositors at this time,
so many lost their savings.
As banks closed their doors and more
people lost their savings, fear gripped
depositors across the nation.
Business also lost its
money and could not
finance its activities…
More businesses went
bankrupt and closed
their doors, leaving more
people unemployed…
…Causing unemployment to reach
even higher levels.
4. Political Decisions:
The Depression could have been less
severe had policy makers not made
certain mistakes…
Leaders in government and business
relied on poor advice from
economic & political experts...
“The sole function of the government is to
bring about a condition of affairs favorable
to the beneficial development of private
Herbert Hoover (1930)
But did Hoover really believe in a
free market philosophy?
Hoover did
action to
in the
but it was
too little
too late-
Within a month
of the crash,
Hoover met with
key business
leaders to urge
them to keep
wages high,
even though
prices and
were falling.
Hoover Tries
Reconstruction Finance Corporation helped
large corporations
insurance companies
Did not help
People in need
Poor homeless people built shantytowns called Hoovervilles (Play
The greatest mistake of the
Hoover administration was
passage of the Smoot-Hawley
Tariff, passed in 1930.
(It came on top of the FordneyMcCumber Tariff of 1922, which
had already put American
agriculture into a tailspin.)
Officials believed that raising trade
barriers would force Americans
to buy more goods at home, which
would keep Americans employed.
Billions of Nominal Dollars
Smoot Hawley Tariff of 1930 and Trade Reform Act of 1934
1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940
It virtually closed our
borders to foreign goods
and ignited a vicious
international trade war.
Europe had debts from
World War I and Germany
had reparations to pay.
Foreign nations were
forced to curtail their
purchase of
Americans goods.
For example,
farmers lost
of their
Farm prices
plummeted and
of farmers
went bankrupt.
To compound the effects of the
economic slump,farmers would
experience one of the worst, longest
droughts in history during the 1930s…
...creating a “Dust Bowl” of
unproductive, eroded farmland.
Three years later,
international trade
plummeted to 33% of its
1929 level.
The loss of such trade was
devastating and had ripple
effects, similar to the
bank failures.
In summary,
The Smoot-Hawley Tariff
created trade wars
and worsened
world economic conditions.
Huge increase in taxes
hurt companies and
The Bonus Army
– a march on Washington was made by a group of
unemployed WWI veterans
– WW1 veterans (pensions discontinued by
congress) march on Washington
– they reached Washington by 1931, set up
shantytowns = HOOVERVILLES (food scraps
= HOOVER-MEALS, hitchhiking journeys =
– after one year they were forcibly dispersed by
the Army (MacArthur/Eisenhower)
• 1 out of 4 was
• nat'l income was 50%
of what it had been in
• Repubs. nominated
Hoover  no hope
• winner by a landslide
ROOSEVELT (Dem N.Y. governor)
FDR Wins 1932 election
People did not like Hoover
Presidential election
– Republican platform
• letting the nation’s problems be solved by natural
– Democratic platform
• the repeal of Prohibition and fairer distribution of
the products of industry
Let’s Review the
for the
Great Depression:
1. Overproduction
(responding to high demand for goods)
2. Banking & Money Policies
(low interest rates,
buying on credit,
raise in interest rates,
low reserve rates for banks.)
3. Stock Market Practices
(buying on margin,
bank loans for stock purchases)
4. Political decisions
(Smoot-Hawley Tariff,
Increase Income Tax)