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Depression’s Lessons

AMERICA’S GREAT DEPRESSION: A PREVENTABLE TRAGEDY IN FOUR ACTS
By Lawrence W. Reed

Editor: Amid a recession that some are calling the worst since the 1930s, on the heels of a Democratic presidential victory that recalled 1932 and a Republican congressional comeback echoing 1938, we called on our favorite economic historian to sort out the facts from the myths about that stormy decade. He did not spell out the political parallels between then and now,as there was no need. They speak for themselves.

How bad was the Great Depression? Over the four years from 1929 to 1933, production at the nation’s factories, mines, and utilities fell by more than half. People’s real disposable incomes dropped 28 percent. Stock prices collapsed to one-tenth of the pre-crash height. The number of unemployed Americans rose from 1.6million in 1929 to 12.8 million in 1933.

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