Compare the French approach to the Depression with the New Deal.
In general, France was not hit as hard or as early by the Great Depression as the United States. In part, this was because the great number of deaths of young French men during World War I meant that unemployment was not as bad in France as it was in the United States. For example, unemployment only reached 5% in France, while it reached a high of 25% in the United States. Furthermore, France did not rely as heavily on the stock market for economic growth, and the Great Depression also hit France later (in 1931), as compared to 1929 in the United States.
In contrast with the New Deal policies of the United States, which encouraged Keynesian deficit spending to spur economic growth, French policies maintained balanced government budgets until 1934. When the government under Laval tried to reduce salaries, popular unrest led to the election of a leftist government under Leon Blum, who came from the socialist Popular Front party. Blum's policies were less comprehensive than those of FDR during the New Deal, because Blum faced opposition from the right-wing Radicals within his coalition. Strikes broke out, and Blum raised wages in response. He also nationalized the armaments industry. Eventually, the government had to devalue the franc, which caused capital to flee abroad. The parliament, however, did not grant Blum the emergency powers he needed to enact broad reforms, though these powers were granted to his successor. The development of war industries caused the economy to improve by the time World War II broke out in Europe in 1939.
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