WITH THE increasing rapidity and amplitude of the swings of the business cycle, the existence of fixed obligations to pay interest and amortization on loans has increasingly strained our economic machine. During the years of severe depression following 1929 debts have come to the front as a major national issue.
This book attempts (1) to show in a brief, summary way what has happened to the debts of individuals, corporations, and government bodies in these years; and (2) to suggest policies by which debts can be more easily adjusted in the future to the ups and downs of the business cycle.
This study is a sequel to an investigation of the debt problem which was made by the Twentieth Century Fund in 1933, the results of which were published in a volume entitled The Internal Debts of the United States. The previous study was undertaken as an emergency measure in the depths of the depression and was carried through, under great pressure, in three months.
This volume differs from the Fund's previous report on debts in two important ways.
(1) The first study was exclusively a staff undertaking. Some recommendations for action were made in the report by those who assembled the factual material, but it was primarily a factual study. While the factual research in the present study has been carried on by a special research staff, it was done under the direction of an eminent special committee,