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Introduction

  • Peter Fearon
Chapter
Part of the Studies in Economic and Social History book series (SESH)

Abstract

THE slump which began in 1929 and soon enveloped every manufacturing nation as well as primary producing countries all over the world was regarded by contemporaries as no ordinary depression. Although not the longest period of unremitting gloom in recent world history, it was, by almost any indicator, the most severe. Rising unemployment, falling money incomes, the rapid growth of underutilised capacity, the drop in primary-product prices and the collapse of international trade combined to depress the international economy in a way few, if any, serious economic thinkers had thought possible. In 1931 J. M. Keynes said in the course of a public lecture,

We are today in the middle of the greatest economic catastrophe — the greatest catastrophe due almost entirely to economic causes — of the modern world ... the view is held in Moscow that this is the last, the culminating crisis of capitalism and that our existing order of society will not survive it … there is a possibility that when this crisis is looked back upon by the economic historian of the future it will be seen to mark one of the major turning points [Keynes, 1931].

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Copyright information

© The Economic History Society 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Fearon
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LeicesterUK

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