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But finding a way out of the damage was very tough in the s and is just as hard now. Unlike in the case of a type challenge, there are no obvious macro-economic answers to financial distress. The answers lie in the slow, painful cleaning up of balance sheets; and in designing an incentive system that compels banks to operate less dangerously. A type event requires micro-economic restructuring, not macro-economic stimulus and liquidity provision. It cannot be imposed from above by an all-wise planner but requires many businesses and individuals to change behaviour. The improvement of regulation, while a good idea, is better suited to avoiding future crises than dealing with a catastrophe that has already occurred.

There is another reason that the aftermath of Lehman looks reminiscent of the world of depression economics. The international economy spreads problems fast. Austrian and German bank collapses would not have knocked the world from recession into depression had they occurred in isolated or self-contained economies. But these economies were built on borrowed money in the second half of the s, with the chief sources of the funds lying in America. The bank collapses in and in shook the confidence of the international creditor: then the US, now China.

As in the Great Depression, the attention focuses on the big states and their policy responses. Smaller countries find it harder to apply Keynesian fiscal policies, or pursue autonomous monetary policies.

The Great Depression: Crash Course US History #33

Some countries, such as Greece or Ireland, have reached or exceeded the limits for fiscal activism; and there is — as in the s — a threat of countries going bankrupt. From the perspective of the US, debate has been distorted by fears that something like this could hit America.

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That is unrealistic. But even the default of an agglomeration of smaller countries would end any hope of an open international economy and inaugurate an age of financial nationalism. In the recently ended era of financial globalisation, in the year period since the collapse of Soviet communism, the most dynamic and richest states were generally small open economies: Singapore, Taiwan, Chile, New Zealand and in Europe the former communist states of central Europe, Ireland, Austria and Switzerland.

In the world after the crisis , the centre of economic gravity has shifted to really large agglomerations of power. At one point she lived with 19 people — in a six room house.

It was in these situations that she learned to conserve what she had, and reuse what she found. Today, individuals and companies would be wise to heed this advice. We can find resources in unlikely places, whether in the the scrap heap or the ideas of the unpaid college intern. While some figures put the number of people unemployed as even higher than the numbers during the Great Depression, the widespread feeling of despair — not to mention the sheer numbers of actual starvation, poverty, and unemployment — was much higher during the s and 30s than during the aughts.

Lesson 10: The Great Depression

There were food shortages to go along with thousands of people filing for bankruptcy. Today's numbers, frankly, speak more to recession than depression. While small farmers suffered greatly during the Great Depression, those who could generate their own food in small gardens were able to supplement their diet with fresh fruits and vegetables. Urban subsistence gardens — on rooftops, in vacant lots, or backyards — became particularly useful during this era. There were over 20, of these gardens in Gary, Indiana alone.

Self-reliance, especially when it comes to feeding yourself, is an invaluable tool, recession or not.

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Debt is a bit of a dirty word for people during the Depression. It's an idea that carries over into today. Not a big fan of credit cards, she also said that ""Gold and silver gives you a reserve, and sometime maybe the paper money won't be good. While we don't suggest throwing away your paper money, taking on more debt in times like these might be digging yourself deeper than you can pull yourself out. Some cities and states have higher unemployment rates than others; same goes for certain businesses. The Great Depression was a time for striking out a new path if the old one turned up short.

While some stories are less successful than others, such as Paul Satko's journey up to Alaska in a wooden ark , the lesson remains: don't be afraid to go where the opportunity is, rather than waiting for it to come to you. Surviving alone is no way to live.

Lessons of the Great Depression | The New Yorker

People during the Great Depression, despite little-to-no spending money and virtually no money for entertainment, found cheap ways to find distraction and diversion. There were radio programs, such as President Roosevelt's fireside chats, and live concerts put on by people who had plenty of free time on their hands.


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Marie Tubbs remembered fondly the concerts put on by her father, a violinist in Michigan. Since the end of the Great Depression, macroeconomists have labored diligently in an effort to understand the circumstances that led to the wholesale collapse of the economy. What lessons can we draw from our study of these events?


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In this essay, I argue that the Federal Reserve played a key role in nearly every policy failure during this period, and so the major lessons learned from the Great Depression concern the function of the central bank and the financial system. In my view, there is now a broad consensus supporting three conclusions. First, the collapse of the finance system could have been stopped if the central bank had properly understood its function as the lender of last resort.

Second, deflation played an extremely important role deepening the Depression.