18 Successes and Disasters Created to Battle the Great Depression
18 Successes and Disasters Created to Battle the Great Depression

18 Successes and Disasters Created to Battle the Great Depression

Larry Holzwarth - November 9, 2018

18 Successes and Disasters Created to Battle the Great Depression
An advertisement for a 1939 Chevrolet. By 1939, though unemployment remained in the teens, the economy was enjoying sustained growth. Wikimedia

18. The Great Depression was over before America entered the war

In 1940 the United States economy received another shot in the arm as Great Britain, at war with Nazi Germany, became dependent on the United States for non-warlike supplies such as heating oil, food, and raw materials (many of which were also useful to make war, such as steel and rubber). Unemployment in the United States dropped steadily, and after America entered the war it reached full employment rapidly. Despite the American people finally achieving full employment and with jobs paying well, the goods which were produced were frequently rationed, including foodstuffs, rubber, gasoline, and many others. Travel was restricted as wartime priorities were enforced. Detroit quit making new cars and instead concentrated on the weapons of war. Piano factories made components of Norden bombsight. Radio manufacturers made anti-aircraft shell fuses. Consumer goods, which Americans could finally afford, were unavailable.

During the three years between the Recession of 1937 and the entry of American into the war the national economy grew steadily. When the war began and the privations imposed on the home front took hold, it was linked with the Depression of the early 1930s. Following the war the American economy was again boosted by the GI Bill, the expanding housing market, the availability of new automobiles, and the government-funded boom in road building. Because prosperity wasn’t really felt by the American public until the war ended, the belief that the war ended the Great Depression emerged. It didn’t and in fact a brief recession followed the war as industry retooled for consumer goods and unemployed returning veterans clogged the labor market. The Great Depression still marks the American psyche, its landscape altered by programs such as the CCC and its federal budget by many of the agencies created by the New Deal and subsequent federal programs which continue to affect the American economy and lifestyle.

 

Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act: A Classic Economics Horror Story”. Sally Helm, Doug Irwin, National Public Radio Morning Edition (transcript). April 5, 2018

“Golden Fetters: The gold standard and the Great Depression”. Barry Eichengreen. 1992

“The Great Crash, 1929”. John Kenneth Galbraith. 2009

“The Great Depression: The United States in the Thirties”. Robert Goldston. 1968

“The coming of the New Deal 1933-35”. Arthur M. Schlesinger. 2003

“Repeal of Prohibition”. David J. Hanson, Sociology Department, State University of New York. Online

“The Failure of the NRA”. Bernard Bellush. 1976

“What the New Deal Did”. David Kennedy, Political Science Quarterly. 1969

“Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929 – 1945”. David Kennedy. 2001

“The Making of the TVA”. Arthur E. Morgan. 1974

“The Farm Bill: From Charitable Start to Prime Budget Target”. Kathleen Masterson, National Public Radio (transcript). September 26, 2011

“Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs The Supreme Court”. Jeff Shesol. 2010

“America’s Protectionist Past: The Hidden History of Trade”. Spencer P. Morrison, National Economics Editorial. December 23, 2016

“The Critical Press and the New Deal: The Press versus Presidential Power 1933-1938”. Gary Dean Best. 1993

“Social Security Visions and Revisions”. Andrew Achene. 1986

“The Wagner Act: Its Origin and Current Significance”. Leon H. Keyeserling, George Washington University Law Review. 1961

“Great Myths of the Great Depression”. Lawrence W. Reed, Mackinac Center for Public Policy. 1981. Online

“What ended the Great Depression”. Christina D. Romer, Journal of Economic History. December, 1992

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