Essay on Causes of the Great Depression

3503 Words Mar 13th, 2008 15 Pages
The Great Depression remains to be the worst economic slump ever in American history and one which spread practically all over the industrialized world. The Depression bombarded in late 1929 and lasted nearly a decade. Many factors elemented the depth of the widespread prosperity. However, combined, the greatly unequal distribution of wealth throughout the 1920's and the extensive stock market speculation that took place during the latter part that same decade remain the key of all elements. The distribution of wealth in the 1920's was disparate and largely dispersed where funds were randomly needed. Between the rich and the middle-class, between industry and agriculture within the United States, and between the U.S. and Europe were …show more content…
The concept of buying now and paying later caught on quickly. By the end of the 1920's, 60% of cars and 80% of radios were bought on installment credit. Between 1925 and 1929 the total amount of outstanding installment credit more than doubled from $1.38 billion to around $3 billion. Installment credit allowed one to "telescope the future into the present", as the President's Committee on Social Trends noted. This strategy created artificial demand for products which people could not ordinarily afford. It delayed the day of reckoning, but it made the downfall worse when it came. By telescoping the future into the present, when "the future" arrived, there was little to buy that hadn't already been bought. In addition, people could not longer use their regular wages to purchase whatever items they didn't have yet, because so much of the wages went to paying back credit purchases. The U.S. economy was also reliant upon luxury spending and investment from the rich to stay afloat during the 1920's. The significant problem with this reliance was that luxury spending and investments were based on the wealthy man's confidence in the American economy. If conditions were to take a downturn (as they did with the market crashed in fall and winter 1929), this spending and investment would slow to a halt. While savings and investment are important for an economy to stay balanced, at excessive levels they are not good. Greater investment usually means greater

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