Great Depression

DEFINITION of 'Great Depression'

An economic recession that began on October 29, 1929, following the crash of the U.S. stock market. The Great Depression originated in the United States, but quickly spread to Europe and the rest of the world. Lasting nearly a decade, the Depression caused massive levels of poverty, hunger, unemployment and political unrest.

BREAKING DOWN 'Great Depression'

The NYSE crashed on October 24, 1929, a day known as Black Thursday. Thousands of people lost nearly the entire value of their investments, leaving them with next to nothing. The trend continued and the following Tuesday, Black Tuesday, the DJIA dropped 12%, marking the start of the great depression. International trade declined, along with personal income, tax revenues and product prices.

Many economists believed the Great Depression was evidence that capitalism, when left unchecked, is a dangerous ideology. This caused some nations to change their political structures, such as Germany, who adopted fascism.

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