From 1930 to 1933, prices of industrial stocks fell about 80 percent.
Banks and individuals with investments in the stock market lost large
sums. Banks had also loaned money to many people who could not repay it.
The deepening depression forced large numbers of people to withdraw
their savings. Banks had great difficulty meeting the withdrawals, which
came at a time when the banks were unable to collect on many loans.
Between January 1930 and March 1933, about 9,000 banks failed. The bank
failures wiped out the savings of millions of people.
Ben Isaacs, who lived in Chicago during the depression, described what
happened to him: "I was in business for myself, selling clothes on
credit.. . . But. . . banks closed down overnight. We lost
everything.... I couldn't pay the rent.. . . I sold it [the car] for $15
in order to buy some food for the family.... I would bend my head low
[in the relief line] so nobody would recognize me.-. . ." (The
quotations in this article are from Hard Times: An Oral History of the
Great Depression © 1970 by Studs Terkel, published by Pantheon Books, a
Division of Random House, Inc.)
Bank failures made less money available for loans to industry. The
decline in available money caused a drop in production and a further
rise in unemployment. F; am 1929 to 1933, the total value of goods and
services produced annually in the United States fell from about $104
billion to about $56 billion. In 1932, the number of business closings
was almost a third higher than the 1929 level.
In 1925, about 3 percent of the nation's workers were . unemployed. The
unemployment rate reached about 9 percent in 1930 and about 25
percent—or about 13 million persons—in 1933. Many people who kept or
found jobs had to take salary cuts. In 1932, wage cuts averaged about 18
percent. Many people, including college graduates, felt lucky to find
any job. In 1932, the New York - City Police Department estimated that
7,000 persons over the age of 17 shined shoes for a living. A popular
song of the 1930's called "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" expressed the
Foreign trade also fell greatly during the Great Depression. The
Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 contributed to the drop. This law
greatly increased a number of tariffs. President Hoover signed the law
because he thought it would reduce competition from foreign products.
But tariffs rose so high that other nations reacted by raising tariffs
on U.S. goods.
From 1929 to 1933, prices of farm goods fell about .30 percent. This
drop occurred partly because high tariffs made exports unprofitable. In
addition, farmers produced a surplus of crops. The surplus pushed prices
down because there was more food than people could buy.
The name Great Britain is also sometimes used to mean the country of the
United Kingdom. For location and detailed information on the country and
the island, see United Kingdom. Peter r. Mounfield Great-circle route is
the shortest, most direct route between two points on the earth's