The Empire and the World Depression
The world depression that set in after the collapse of the American stock market in the autumn of 1929 brought about major changes in the economic and political environment within which the statesmen of the Empire-Commonwealth had to plot their course. Efforts to deal with the problems it posed through international action directed towards tackling obstacles to trade, and in particular the instability of currencies and the burdens of international debt, revealed themselves as inadequate in the face of the pressure upon national governments to protect their own economies, and to be free to manipulate their currencies in the light of their domestic priorities. The failure of the London World Economic Conference in 1933 marked the abandonment of the international approach.1 The advent of Hitler to power in Germany heralded not only a strengthening of the movement towards autarchy in that country and the use of its economic weapon to assist its political aims in Europe, but also the beginning of a period of massive rearmament which spread with different degrees of urgency to most other countries with any role in international politics, and this in turn reacted upon economic conditions and economic policy.
KeywordsFree Trade British Government International Debt World Depression American Stock Market
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