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The Impact Of The Great Depression Notes
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The Impact of the Great Depression: 1929-1933 The Situation in the 1920s:
- Pre-war productivity levels were surpassed in 1925, with apparent economic recovery and political stability contributing to a positive outlook.
- Serious problems remained as wartime industries failed to make the transition to peacetime production, while unemployment was swollen by war veterans returning home.
- The prosperity of the 1920s was superficial, driven by the development of new industries (e.g. cars and synthetics). Older industries never fully recovered.
- A set of new states in Eastern Europe were very unstable, debt-ridden and under-developed. Pre-war trade patterns suffered as a result.
- Europe lost overseas markets, while the vast flow of paper money contributed to inflation. Capital was not available for investment. The Effects of the Wall Street Crash:
- After a period of intense speculation prices on the New York Stock Exchange collapsed on 29th October 1929. Problems soon spread overseas when the US government started calling in loans.
- By 1932 global industrial production was two-thirds of what it had been in
- Britain was forced to come off gold standard in 1931, causing chaos in European currency markets and severely damaging the system of international credit.
- Britain adopted 'imperial preference' with the introduction of the Import Duties Tax in February 1932, imposing a ten per cent tax on imported goods.
- Democracies appeared to have failed as extremism grew in popularity. By late 1929 authoritarian governments had overthrown democracies in eight European states. By 1936 a further seven had lost political freedom.
- In September 1930 Hitler's Nazis won 107 seats in the Reichstag. Plans for European Union:
- France was keen to contain German power, particularly after French troops had recently left the Rhineland. A European union was supported by European business elites.
- In late 1929 Briand suggested a European Federal Union, giving his idea greater urgency after the Wall Street Crash. The French leader was also keen to ensure Anglo-Saxon hegemony over Europe was avoided after British ties with the USA had improved.
- Eventually Briand's plan for a European Common Market was rejected by Britain. It wished to ensure its primary ties with the USA, the Empire and the Commonwealth remained strong and was suspicious of a plan arguably intended to retain French dominance in Europe. It also argued such an agreement may weaken the League of Nations. Proposed German-Austrian Customs Union:
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