The Great Depression, Today
It can sometimes be hard to tell how history affects us today, the ripples it leaves being lost among the rest. However on October 24th, 1929, Wall Street would suffer a crash that would lead to the biggest historical events of the 20th century and still be seen today.
Following the first World War ending in 1918 the economy of the United States had been on a steady rise and was at its highest it had ever been, in fact many believed it would rise forever. However on March 25th, the Federal Reserve of the United States had issued a warning that at the height of the economy a slide would be ruinous. This warning had scared many investors and would itself cause a minor slide that on the opening bell of the day would cause the economy to decrease by 10%, the slide would be halted by the National City Bank who invested 25 million in the economy. Between June and September the economy would continue to rise despite many Americans now seeing the weakness in the foundation of the American economy. On October 24th however, with tensions high from the previous slide and warning from the Federal Reserve at the opening bell the American economy would lose 11% of its value almost instantly and many would begin to call it “Black Thursday.”
Over the next couple days the economy would slightly recover however it would once again fall on Monday the 28th by 12%, a record crash at the time. Many investors at this point had begun attempting to slow the slide by proving their faith in Wall Street, in no small part by the Rockefellers who along with many major investors had invested millions into the economy and had actually helped it rise by 12% within a day. However the damage had been done and the trend of steady yet unstable growth would continue up until April 1930 when with the lack of investors due to them pulling out of the unstable system Wall Street would once again crash. This time however the crash was not 11 or 12% but 83% over the span of only a few months.
The economy would not fully recover until 1953, however the effects of it were quickly felt. In fact in Europe the effects were felt the heaviest with the British pound and American dollar losing almost half of their value. Nowhere else would the effects of the wall street crash be felt heavier than the newly democratic German Republic in which in 1920 a loaf of bread cost 163 marks. 10 years later though in 1930 would grow to cost millions of marks for a single loaf of bread, the weight of the bank notes being valued more than the actual value of the money itself. To counter these high prices Germany would print more bank notes to produce a short term fix but after the only effect of the fix was increasing inflation, riots began to break out in the streets. Many would begin to look to alternate political parties especially those incredibly far right and left leaning and by 1933 this would bring to power the Nazi party in Germany.
The 1930’s were expected to be a time of incredible economic growth, where democracy would grow, where famine, poverty and crime would be eradicated. But the crash of Well Street would prove all of these expectations wrong spurring on WWII and the cold war. The ripples caused by it can still be seen today easily through a look at modern borders, politics and even lifestyles.
Leian is a Junior at Poudre high school who is in his first year at the Poudre Press and runs a blog called History, Today.
Cooper, Pen. “A Single Bread Costs 4.6 Million During Germany's Hyperinflation in 1923.” History Daily, 25 February 2016, https://historydaily.org/germany-hyperinflation. Accessed 24 October 2022.
Mastracci, Adrian. “The Great Crash of 1929, some key dates.” Financial Post, 24 October 2011, https://financialpost.com/personal-finance/the-great-crash-of-1929-some-key-dates. Accessed 24 October 2022.
“Timeline: A selected Wall Street chronology.” American Experience, PBS Online.