The Great Depression

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Credit Union Resources:The Great Depression

The Great Depression was the longest, most devastating economic slump experienced in the Western world. The Great Depression lasted from 1929 to 1939 and affected the United States, Europe, Canada, Japan, and several other countries throughout the world. It started with the stock market crash of 1929. The Great Depression was an important part of history as it serves as a guideline for investment practices that shouldn’t be used again.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) created what would be referred to as the “New Deal”. The “New Deal” consisted of heavy amounts of legislation and new programs to help relieve the effects of the Great Depression. One of the most notable achievements of the New Deal was the Public Works Administration (PWA) which employed 8.5 million people over the course of the depression. The PWA received criticism from some conservatives who stated that it “grew the federal government too much”. This same argument is still being used today. Regardless, the PWA was responsible for giving millions of Americans work during a time when businesses decided not to hire anyone.

There were other important New Deal programs of these include:

Civillian Conservation Corps (CCC) - was created in 1933 to employ young unskilled men aged 18-24 to revitalize, and reforest rural areas. The CCC helped plan nearly 3 billion trees, and constructed more than 800 trees.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was created under the authority of the Federal Reserve Act of 1933 to insure the deposits of approved banks against loss in the event of bank failure.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was created in 1934 to license and regulate stock exchanges and to control public utility holding companies.

Social Security Board was created in 1935 to administer the federal old-age retirement funds.

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was created in 1933 to operate government- owned properties at Muscle Shoals, Ala.; to develop water and power resources of the Tennessee River watershed; to plan for the social and economic well-being of the valley.

Works for Progress Administration (WPA) was created in 1935 to relieve unemployment; later called Work Projects Administration. Abolished in 1942.

The New Deal helped relieve millions of unemployed Americans by giving them work as well as a new sense of security through new social safety nets. While it was not the solution to the problem, it was highly beneficial for America. In the end, WWII actually ended the Great Depression by creating new manufacturing jobs in the U.S. The Great Depression remains a legacy because it serves as a reminder that hardship can happen to anyone and that the U.S. is not immune to misfortune. It brought people closer together, reminded Americans of what was truly important, and enabled the West to prepare for a brighter future.