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The Great Depression Basics - Pics, Facts, Timeline

Lingering Effects of the Great Depression


When Was the Great Depression?

The Great Depression started in 1929 and ended in 1941 with the start of World War II. Those in their late 80’s and 90’s will remember the Great Depression as a child, teenager or young adult. If you know someone who lived through the Great Depression, ask them about it. Their stories will be worth hearing.

Why Do People Still Talk About the Great Depression?

The Great Depression was a devastating time with far reaching global effects. Banks failed, unemployment reached 25%, and it took 27 years for the stock market to reach pre-crash levels. Those who grew up during the Great Depression never outgrew its effects.

Many older Americans, even those with considerable wealth, have been known to hoard their money, even burying it in the back yard, or hiding it around the house. The Great Depression had such an influence on them that they will not spend money unless they consider it an absolute necessity, preferring instead to stash it away somewhere, just in case.

Causes of the Great Depression

A string of unfortunate and ill-timed economic factors led to the Great Depression. Most people attribute The Stock Market Crash of 1929 as the cause of the Great Depression, but the economy had been stagnant for months prior, and the effects of the market crash were compounded due to the use of margin*, and the general lack of market regulations at that time.

* The use of margin means people had borrowed money to buy stock, and when the market dropped they had to sell stock to pay back the borrowed funds. This led to a spiral of falling prices. With significantly reduced wealth, spending declined, banks failed and on top of this drought conditions contributed to a lack of good crops.

Learn more about Causes of the Great Depression

Great Depression Pictures

A picture’s worth 1,000 words, right? This Great Depression picture gallery will give you insight into life during the Great Depression. With breadlines, soup kitchens, dust storms and foreclosures, it wasn’t a pretty picture.

See Great Depression Picture Gallery

Great Depression Timeline

This Great Depression timeline starts in the 1920’s with events leading up to the Great Depression, and then chronicles events through 1945, when the top tax rate was 91%! And people complain about taxes today. Whew.

Interestingly enough the timeline starts by pointing out that “federal spending grows three times larger than tax collections. When the government cuts back spending to balance the budget in 1920, a severe recession results.” This is what makes our current economic situation precarious. Cut back too much, and our economy heads back into recession; don’t cut back enough and our debt load becomes unsustainable.

Check out the Great Depression Timeline

Great Depression Compared to Today

In 2008 and 2009 many expressed concern that the U.S. was headed into another Great Depression. Instead, the term the Great Recession was coined. Our current economic situation is tough, but not nearly as tough as it was in the 1930’s.

For a comparison, see Great Depression Compared to Today

What Ended the Great Depression?

The beginning of World War II is considered the official end of the Great Depression. In reality, when Roosevelt took office in 1933 he took action to put new regulations in place to promote job creation and prevent future financial catastrophes of such a large scale. His actions helped restore confidence. Confidence in the future is a key factor to a healthy growing economy.

Stories From the Great Depression

Know someone who lived through the Great Depression? Or did your parents or grandparents share stories with you? Help their stories live on! Please share your Great Depression story below.

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