Seeking to understand the ramifications of the Great Depression, this essay seeks to provide a comprehensive analysis of the precursors to the worst economic crisis in American history. In addition to exploring the effects of the Great Depression on American society, we will explore the affects of this event on global trade, politics, the development of Nazism in Germany, and its effects on the Soviet Union. The terms “Great Depression” and “Great Crash” will be used synonymously throughout this essay since they refer simultaneously to the same event: the economic collapse of 1929 and the ensuing economic and social crises for much of the Western developed world (McNeill 1963).
In an attempt to provide a comprehensive summary of an event with international consequences and geopolitical reverberations, this essay be structured in the following manner: 1) the Great Depression of 1929 will be explained and analyzed on a global scale, looking at the tangible effects of this event on the United States and the countries of Europe (both democratic and authoritarian/capitalist and proto-communist). 2) parallels with this event and the modern economic crisis will be explored primarily through a prescriptive lens, employing the complete and definitive work on the subject, John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Great Crash. Reasons for the Great Crash/Depression will be discussed with reference to how we can learn from lessons from the past. 3) finally, we conclude with a synopsis of the research explored with an eye to the main causes of this event and their ramifications. Understanding that the Depression was an international event with global repercussions, the following will analyze the varied impact of this economic collapse on both the United States and the countries of Europe.
In the first four years of the Great Depression, world trade fell by an astonishing 60%.