The Great Depression, the worst economic downfall ever in United States history, began late in 1929. Supposedly triggered by the stock market crash. It lasted for nearly a decade. The main cause for the depression was the combination of the greatly unequal distribution of wealth throughout the 1920s and the extensive stock market speculation that took place during the latter part of that same decade. The devastating economic losses of the 1930s were not limited just to the United States: the effects were also felt in Europe.
While Americans were prospering in the 1920s, Europeans were struggling to rebuild themselves after World War I. Factories, homes, and farms had been destroyed in the war. George Orwell states “several hundred men risk their lives and several hundred women scrabble in the mud for hours…searching for tiny chips of coal” so they could heat their homes. The war even devastated European businesses. Tariffs such as the Fordney-McCumber Act of 1922 and the Hawley-Smoot Tariff of 1930 made Europeans unable to sell reasonable quantities of their own goods in the United States. Countries such as Britain, Italy, France, Belgium, Russia, Yugoslavia, Estonia, and Poland borrowed money from the United States government in order to support themselves. By time the 1930s came about and the war had passed, these countries were in no economic position to repay their debts.
In Britain, the Conservative party tried to increase the amount of exports by decreasing the value of the pound. They also lowered interest rates on loans in order to gain the interest of industry. These Conservative ideas failed. Unemployment started to drastically decline when Britain began to rearm. Whereas Britain suffered severe economic problems before the Great Depression, France was for the most part prosperous. “Industrial and agricultural production expanded, tourism increased, and the currency was stable. ” France felt the effects of the Great Depression by the decline in trade and production as well as the increase in unemployment.
The policies of the New Deal relieved the situation at hand, but complete recovery from the depression came about only with the heavy defense spending in the 1940s.
The Great Depression is a broad subject viewed by numerous aspects. All of which go into great detail. No matter how you depict the harsh time in economic history, the bond between the effects of the United States and of Europe can be described as follows: The weak international economy of the 1930s. Europe was reliant upon U.S. loans to buy U.S. goods, and the U.S. needed Europe to buy these goods to prosper.
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