The previous post is absolutely right in terms of the institutional makeup from then to now. The Great Depression was the first of its kind. Leaders then understood that a new institutional configuration was needed to prevent another type of stand still created by the Great Depression from happening again. Failure to do so would undermine the entire structure. They did an admirable job which is why the modern economic crisis is not the Great Depression. That being said, there are some parallels in the mind of the consumer. In no way would I suggest that the modern economic challenges are the modern Great Depression, but I do think that the mindset of the consumers between then and now does bear out some similarity. The most elemental one would be the consumer confidence being profoundly shaken. In both time periods, the consumer themselves questioned when "is it going to be over." The question on everyone's mind then and now is when will the bottom hit and when will the movement back up to expansion start. Both time periods feature this question that haunts the heart of consumer confidence. Along these lines would be similarity between unemployment then and now. The statistics are not comparable. The Great Depression's unemployment was far worse than now. Yet, I do believe that one could make an argument about the hopelessness amongst those searching for work between then and now. Recent statistics point to a large number of people who have simply stopped looking for work because of a belief that the work is not out there for them to obtain. Bleakness about the employment picture is at an all- time high and something that causes a great deal of consternation amongst the unemployed. This lack of faith in the employment system can be something to be compared between then and now.
The way that the economy now has almost no similarity to the way things were during the Great Depression.
Perhaps the most obvious difference is in the unemployment rate. Today, the rate of unemployment is about 10%. At the height of the Depression, it was estimated (they didn't have such good statistics back then) to be anywhere from 25% to 33%.
Another major difference is that the US economy today is not even officially in a recession. Instead, the economy has actually been growing (if only very slightly) for the last few quarters.
Finally, there are many more "safety nets" for people today than there were in the 1930s. There are programs to protect people from bank failures, for example, and programs to help people who are unemployed. These government programs did not exist during the Depression.
The depression that started in 1929, and which is called the great depression, was a the most severe and widespread depression that the world has ever witnessed. Currently also the world is going through a major depression cycle, that started about two years back, but this depression being the second most severe worldwide depression is much less severe than the great depression. The intensity of depression in terms of drop in economic production and increase in unemployment rate, as well as the misery to people caused by it currently is much less severe in many countries including USA than it was during the great depression.
Also the duration of the current depression may be much shorter. The great depression lasted for almost a decade. In contrast the current depression is not expected to last that long. Within two years of its start, most of the economies of the world already appear to be out of it, and many others appear to be well on the way of recovery path.
Perhaps one important cause of the limited adverse impact of the current depression is the better understanding of the factors that influence the economic cycles and the resultant safeguards introduced by governments to discipline the markets. Also timely action by government in form of various fiscal measures and bailout packages has contributed to speedy recovery from the current depression.