Business and the economy in the 1930s were in a state of upheaval. The Great Depression was an international economic calamity so overwhelming that many around the world considered it an omen of divine disapproval. Old economic solutions failed to resolve it; the normal patterns of capitalism and the business cycle seemed broken. But for all the upheaval and catastrophe, the 1930s were a transitional time in business and economic history, not a break with history. Along with the two world wars, the Depression signaled a difficult shift in the form and practice of industrial capitalism. Nineteenth-century capitalism was militantly nationalistic, focused on seizing exclusive markets and on industrial manufacturing, wedded to an individualistic view of economic psychology that resulted in glaring disparities of wealth. Twentieth-century capitalism was multinational, focused on reciprocal trade and consumer production, and dominated by organic models of economic behavior that rationalized judicious distributions of wealth. So entrenched were the theories and practices of nineteenth-century capitalism that it took two wars and an economic collapse to change them. But they did change.
Even without the stock-market crash of 1929, the 1930s would have been difficult. Many older industries had seemingly reached the...
(The entire section is 2176 words.)
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