Depression Decade: From New Era through New Deal, 1929-1941

By Broadus Mitchell | Go to book overview

PROLOGUE
World Economy between Wars

THE depression following 1929 was world wide. The United States made contribution to the causes as to the course of the disturbance, which in turn reacted in every part upon this country. What happened in America becomes clearer on looking at the picture of continents in distress. This will serve to put the experiences in America in perspective. Incidentally, it will appear that a number of devices commonly regarded as American improvisations were adaptations of policies used elsewhere.

Economic processes are continuous. The period from World War I to World War II was integral. We are apt to think of the two decades from Versailles to Warsaw as distinct, broken at the stock market crash of 1929. But American ebullience of the "New Economic Era," 1921-1929, had no counterpart in Europe.There the effort until about 1925 was to restore war losses; when this was more or less achieved, the next four years went into tenuous and doomed attempts to maintain the newly established equilibrium. However, even in America the two dreams, good and bad, as pronounced by Joseph, were one.

Though many of the social dislocations of 1919-1939 were due to World War I, certain long-time developments, important for this story, were in train before the war. Industrialism was spreading and maturing. Not only was industry domesticated in the United States, Germany, northern France, Belgium, and Japan, but it was getting a foothold in countries producing raw materials and hitherto depend

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