The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place during the 1930s. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; however, in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s.〔John A. Garraty, ''The Great Depression'' (1986)〕 It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century.〔Charles Duhigg, "Depression, You Say? Check Those Safety Nets", ''The New York Times'', March 23, 2008.〕
Worldwide GDP fell by an estimated 15% from 1929 to 1932.〔By comparison, GDP fell less than 1% from 2008 to 2009 in the Great Recession. Roger Lowenstein, "History Repeating," (''Wall Street Journal'' Jan 14, 2015 )〕 In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how far the world's economy can decline.〔Barry Eichengreen, ''Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, The Great Recession, and the Uses-and Misuses-of History'' (2014)〕 The depression originated in the United States, after a fall in stock prices that began around September 4, 1929, and became worldwide news with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929 (known as Black Tuesday).
The Great Depression had devastating effects in countries both rich and poor. Personal income, tax revenue, profits and prices dropped, while international trade plunged by more than 50%. Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25% and in some countries rose as high as 33%.
Cities all around the world were hit hard, especially those dependent on heavy industry. Construction was virtually halted in many countries. Farming communities and rural areas suffered as crop prices fell by approximately 60%.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title= Commodity Data )〕 Facing plummeting demand with few alternate sources of jobs, areas dependent on primary sector industries such as mining and logging suffered the most.〔Mitchell, ''Depression Decade''〕
Some economies started to recover by the mid-1930s. In many countries, the negative effects of the Great Depression lasted until the beginning of World War II.〔Garraty, ''Great Depression'' (1986) ch1〕
Economic historians usually attribute the start of the Great Depression to the sudden devastating collapse of US stock market prices on October 29, 1929, known as Black Tuesday however,〔(Great Depression ), Encyclopædia Britannica〕 some dispute this conclusion and see the stock crash as a symptom, rather than a cause, of the Great Depression.〔
Even after the Wall Street Crash of 1929 optimism persisted for some time. John D. Rockefeller said "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." The stock market turned upward in early 1930, returning to early 1929 levels by April. This was still almost 30% below the peak of September 1929.〔(【引用サイトリンク】url=http://www.gold-eagle.com/editorials_98/vronsky060698.html )〕
Together, government and business spent more in the first half of 1930 than in the corresponding period of the previous year. On the other hand, consumers, many of whom had suffered severe losses in the stock market the previous year, cut back their expenditures by 10%. Likewise, beginning in mid-1930's, a severe drought ravaged the agricultural heartland of the US.
By mid-1930, interest rates had dropped to low levels, but expected deflation and the continuing reluctance of people to borrow meant that consumer spending and investment were depressed. By May 1930, automobile sales had declined to below the levels of 1928. Prices in general began to decline, although wages held steady in 1930. 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 1930, a steady decline in the world economy had set in, which did not reach bottom until 1933.
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