THE GREAT SLUMP: Capitalism In Crisis, 1929-1933 by Goronwy Rees

THE GREAT SLUMP: Capitalism In Crisis, 1929-1933

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On the threshold of the '29 crash, commodity prices were collapsing, the Florida land boom was a memory, Barney Baruch had disposed of stocks for gold and bonds, and billions of dollars of unsecured loans flowed into the stock markets. After the crash, municipalities went broke, unemployment became uncontrollable, unemployment relief, public health benefits, and public employees' salaries were slashed, while the social democrats fell in England and Germany, and American experts proclaimed the banks sounder than ever. Though Rees, an English writer, makes no claims to historical analogy, much of his lively account has contemporary reverberations: Thomas Lamont's immemorial words on October 24, 1929, ""There has been at little distress selling on the Stock Exchange. . . due to a technical condition of the market. . . ."" By following the actual domino chain of collapse, Rees brings out the wholly international nature of the credit system and the depression. While some countries suffered more than others, the intended cures were always the same: lower wages, fewer benefits, and higher taxes for the workers. Rees' later chaplets on the 1939 fall of Chancellor Bruning and the rise of Hitler and FDR offer a mere stenography of events: a comparison of the statist economic measures of Hitler-Schacht and the New Deal would have been worthwhile. Rees' conclusion, a pointer toward post-'30's Keynesianism, makes a lame ending for his highly perceptive contributions, which have the additional grace of bypassing the piles of tangential circumstantialities which disfigure many histories of the crash.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1971
Publisher: Harper & Row