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The Hungry Years

The Hungry Years Book Report Paradis, Adrian A. The Hungry Years. Philadelphia. 1967. There were few changes that could be seen; for the most part the revolution was quiet. Never before had so many people of the United States held in their hearts despair, panic and want.

Yet out of the fear of the Depression came social reforms that have strengthened America and its people. The Depression was the worst economic decline ever in the United States history that spread to practically all of the industrialized world. It began in late 1929 and lasted for about ten years. There were many factors that played a role in causing the depression, but the main cause was the unequal distribution of wealth during the 1920s, and the wide stock market speculation that happened toward the end of the 1920s. These factors, along with others, caused the American economy to turn upside-down. The roaring twenties was a time that the United States prospered greatly.

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The nations total income rose from $74.3 billion in 1923 to $89 billion in 1929. However, the benefits of the prosperity of the 1920s were not shared evenly among all Americans, and the maldistribution of income between the rich and the middle class grew throughout the decade. Two major reasons for the gap between the rich and the working class were the increased manufacturing output throughout this period and because the federal government favored business, which included the wealthy who put their money into these businesses. The growing gap between the wealthy and the middle class made the United States economy unstable. For the economy to function properly, total demand must equal total supply.

In an economy with such an unequal distribution of income, it wasnt always likely that the demand would always equal the supply. Basically what happened in the 1920s was that there was an oversupply of goods. It was not that the products were not wanted, but that those who needed the products, simply could not afford more; whereas, the wealthys needs were met by spending only a little amount of their income. Unfortunately, the gap between the two only began to grow wider. In contributing to the Depression, the federal government favored the new industries instead of agriculture. During World War I, the federal government had subsidized farms, and paid very high prices for wheat and other grains. The government had encouraged farmers to buy more land and to update their farming methods with the new technology, and to produce more food.

However, when the war ended, the United States stopped its policies to help farmers. Farmers then fell into debt and the farm prices and food prices dropped. To make a long story short, farmers were left out in the cold by the government. One other reason for the instability of the American economy was the international wealth distribution problems. While American was prospering in the 1920s, European nations were trying to rebuild after the damage from the war. During World War I, the United States government lent European allies $7 billion, and another $3.3 billion by 1920. Of these and other funds, 90% were used to purchase U.S.

goods. When the United States lent money to the nations in need, they expected to be reimbursed, but the nations were in no position to pay off the debts. Now the depression began to set in. Prices had been drifting downward, but on October 21 prices started falling quickly. Prices stabilized a little on Tuesday and Wednesday, but then on Black Thursday, October 24, everything fell apart again.

Partial recovery was made on Friday and Saturday. Then on Black Tuesday, stocks fell so much that at many times no buyers were available at any price. The resulting stock market crash acted as a trigger to the unstable United States economy. Because of the halt of purchases of the industrial production, it also crashed, putting many people without jobs. To protect Americas businesses, the United States made higher trade barriers.

Foreigners stopped buying Americans products. More jobs were lost, more stores were closed, more banks went under, and more factories closed. the country had then entered catastrophe–The Great Depression. This book was very interesting and it gave great insight on the most important parts and factors of the depression. It is recommended that anyone who claims the United States as their home country should read this book.

It is a vital part of Americas history, and the citizens owe it to their country to learn of its background. The history of ones nation is the history of oneself. Bibliography Paradis, Adrain A. The Hungry Years. Philadelphia. 1967. History Reports.


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