By Peter Clements (Wr
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Additional info for Access to History for the IB Diploma. The Great Depression and the Americas 1929-39
As the price structure crumbled, there was a sudden stampede to get out from under. By eleven of clock traders on the floor of the Stock Exchange were in a wild scramble to ‘sell at the market’. Long before the lagging ticker could tell what was happening, word had gone out by telephone and telegraph that the bottom was dropping out of things and the selling orders redoubled in volume . . Down, down, down . Where were the bargain hunters who were supposed to come to their rescue at times like this?
The Ku Klux Klan still terrorized much of the midwest and south, although the number of lynchings was falling. Comparatively few African-Americans were allowed to share in any prosperity; 14 per cent of farmers were African-Americans. Rural poverty The census showed in 1920 that for the first time the USA was essentially an urban nation. The total population was 106,466,000; of these 31,614,000 lived on the land, but the rest lived in towns. As the majority of Americans had hitherto lived in rural areas, the farm lobby had been very powerful in influencing the government.
What was more significant was that large concerns were investing their profits in the stock of others. For example, Bethlehem Steel Corporation and Electric Bond and Share each had invested $157 million in the market by late 1929. If prices should fall, these firms might lose their investments and go bankrupt. Problems with the banking system The banking system of the USA was out of date by the 1920s even though the central banking system had only been created in 1913. Twelve regulatory reserve banks were headed by the Federal Reserve Board – usually known as ‘the Fed’ – with seven members appointed by the president.
Access to History for the IB Diploma. The Great Depression and the Americas 1929-39 by Peter Clements (Wr