Great Depression Essay

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Causes of the Great Depression The stock market crash on October 29, 1929 set in motion a series of events that led to the Great Depression, but in fact, the American economy and global economy had been in turmoil six months prior to Black Tuesday, and a variety of factors before and after that fateful date in October caused and exacerbated the Great Depression. False Sense of Prosperity before the Great Depression The 1920s, known as “The Roaring Twenties” marked a time when America was over dependent on production, automobiles were the leading industry, and there was a great disparity between rich and poor. More than 60% of the population was living below poverty levels, while a mere 5% of the wealthiest people in America accounted for 33% of the income, and the richest 1% owned 40% of the nation’s wealth. This uneven distribution of wealth was mirrored in the unequal distribution of riches between industry and agriculture. Global Crisis and the Great Depression While America prospered during the 1920s, most of Europe, still reeling from the devastation of World War I, fell into economic decline. America soon became the world’s banker, and as Europe started defaulting on loans and buying less American products, the Great Depression spread. Speculation and Overleverage in the Great Depression With only loose stock market regulations in place before the Great Depression, investors were able speculate wildly, buying stocks on margin, needing only 10% of the price of a stock to be able to complete the purchase. Rampant speculation led to falsely high stock prices, and when the stock market began to tumble in the months leading up to the October 1929 crash, speculative investors couldn’t make their margin calls, and a massive sell-off began. While the great rise in the stock market (from 181 points in early 1928 to 381 points in September 1929) was fueled by

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