Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Read: Books on the Great Depression

I must have been in a mood to read. I have too many questions in my mind that I cannot reconcile and for the past weeks, I have been seeking refuge in reading to attempt to find a few of the answers.

Sometime ago, I read Professor Stanley Schultz's Great Depression Lost Words and Grant's How Did It Happen?: The Great Depression.

I was hoping to learn from history itself to understand what had brought about the Great Depression which was at its worst from 1929 to 1934. In addition, I hope to have at least an appreciation to what had led to the end of the Great Depression.

Interestingly, as best as I could make out, some of the economic problems and political problems that had contributed to the Great Depression can be traced back to World War I.

By the end of World War I, even countries like Britain and France that had won the war had been effectively bankrupted because they had borrowed money from the United States to pay for the arms.

Russia underwent a revolution that brought a Communist government to power. When the Communists established the Soviet Union in 1922, foreign investors and governments who had put money into Russia before the World War I had lost all their investment.

During the World War I, the European countries that were involved in the war concentrated their efforts in producing war materials. Other countries which were not involved in the war stepped in to take these European countries' place in industrial production. Following the end of the World War I, when these European industries returned to the production of peacetime goods, they had produced more peacetime goods than there was demand.

Following the end of the World War I, although there were boom years in the United States, the farmers in America were suffering from overproduction of agricultural products. In addition, it was easy to get credit. This led to many people being in debt. To add to the risk, there were many people at that time who had borrowed money to invest in the stock market. However, from 1927, many people bought shares for sheer speculation even though some may be buying shares of a worthless company.

So it seems to me, that the causes behind the Great Depression were multifold. Although some had believed that the stock market Crash of 1929 had caused the Great Depression that followed, it appeared that the Crash was simply a symptom of the underlying problems in the United States and other parts of the world.

I went on to read about the various attempts that had be made to end the Great Depression. From what limited that I have understood, there are lessons that can be learnt from the Great Depression. It seemed that I may have more readings to be done to better appreciate this world that I am living in.

1 comment:

mistipurple said...

you wrote it simply and easy to understand. thank you.