What is buying on margin, and how did it affect the stock market in the late 1920s?
When an investor buys on margin, the investor puts up a portion of the price for a stock and a broker advances the rest of the money. The wide availability of margin credit fueled an environment of stock market speculation, and stock prices skyrocketed throughout 1928 and 1929.
Banks don't keep all customer deposits on hand; rather they lend out the funds to individuals or companies. A bank run takes place when many customers withdraw their money simultaneously, out of fear the bank may become insolvent, and was a common feature of the early 1930s.
As money is withdrawn the likelihood of default increases, thus triggering further withdrawals. Although it may be solvent, a financial institution drained of currency in a bank run may be forced to declare bankruptcy.
How had farmers reacted to the decline in crop prices in the late 1920s?
In an effort to make up for the shortfall caused by the decline in prices for crops such as grains, corn, and cotton, farmers planted more crops, driving down prices even further as more crops reached the market.
1929 saw an exceptionally good harvest, outstripping demand and driving prices down to record lows.
In mid-1929, there were already signs that the boom economy of the Roaring Twenties was slowing. What consumer purchase indicators presaged an economic slowdown?
Many consumers were no longer buying on the installment plan, having already purchased dishwashers, cars, and other goods in abundance. With wages stagnant many borrowers simply could not afford further purchases.
Despite the slowdown in consumer purchases, factories still continued to produce consumer goods in large numbers, creating a surplus.
During October of 1929, Congress debated the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, which would establish the highest tariff rate in history. What effect did this debate have on the stock market?
The stock market experienced massive fluctuations, lending an air of uncertainty to the market and leading to record amounts of buying and selling.
On _____ _____, October 24, 1929, investors sold 13 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange, and the market lost some 11% in value.
Several leading bankers stabilized the market on Friday, October 25, but the sell-off resumed on Monday, October 28, when the market collapsed 13%, a day known as "Black Monday."
The final "Black" day of the 1929 Stock Market Crash was "Black Tuesday," when the market lost an additional 12% in value. What hastened the market's collapse?
During the pre-crash boom, many speculators had purchased stocks on margin. As the stock market began to fall, brokers were forced to sell off the stocks purchased for their customers on margin. This created a snowball effect; as stocks continued to fall, more speculators were sold out.
How did the 1929 Stock Market Crash affect banks?
Many banks had invested in the market and faced significant shortfall; several faced insolvency. The Crash also prompted a run on gold deposits, further reducing the amount of deposits banks had on hand. As a result, banks curtailed their lending activities, contributing to an economic slowdown.
How did the Federal Reserve react to the 1929 Stock Market Crash?
Although the Federal Reserve was responsible for overseeing the economy's banking sector, it did little to aid banks. In fact, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates in the two years following the Crash, further exacerbating the economic slowdown.
In 1930, Congress raised the tariff to record highs by passing the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. What effect did this have on the economy?
Already slowed by the 1929 Stock Market Crash, the increased tariff led to retaliation by foreign countries, which raised their own tariffs. As a consequence, U.S. exports dropped by 66%, devastating the U.S. economy.
What was the Reconstruction Finance Corporation?
Established in 1932, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation was one of Herbert Hoover's attempts to aid the ailing U.S. economy. The agency gave $2 billion in aid to state and local governments, railroad companies, banks, and other businesses. The Corporation was a model for several of the New Deal agencies.
What was the Federal Home Loan Bank Act (1932)?
Signed into law during the Hoover Administration, the Federal Home Loan Bank Act sought to lower the cost of home ownership by providing funds to federal savings and loans to be used to fund home mortgages.
The Act's purpose was to reduce home foreclosures during the early years of the Great Depression. While foreclosures were reduced, it had little effect on the economy as a whole.
In 1932, Herbert Hoover attempted to revive the U.S. economy by signing the Emergency Relief and Construction Act. What did this act provide?
The Emergency Relief Act was the first ever federal relief act, which released funds for public works projects (such as highways and building projects) throughout the country.
The Emergency Relief Act was expanded by President Roosevelt as part of his New Deal line of programs.
In 1931, at the suggestion of President Hoover, 15 countries agreed to the Hoover Moratorium, which suspended the Dawes Plan and all war debt payments, including reparations. What was the Moratorium's effect?
The Moratorium prompted a number of bank defaults in Europe and the United States, as customers withdrew their funds. Designed to stave off a depression in Europe, the Moratorium had only a negligible effect on the world economy.
What was the Federal Farm Board?
Founded shortly before the 1929 Stock Market Crash, the Farm Board was greatly expanded in response to the drop in crop prices in 1930 and 1931. The Federal Farm Board attempted to drive up prices by holding cotton and grain in storage, reducing the supply.
Unfortunately the Board's efforts were too modest to have much of an effect on the economy.
What was the Bonus Army?
In 1932, thousands of unemployed World War I veterans marched on Washington and demanded immediate payment of bonus certificates that had been awarded to them in acknowledgment of their service, but which weren't cashable until 1945.
The Bonus Army, as it came to be called, arrived en masse at the U.S. Capitol, demanding that Congress enact the Bonus Bill, providing them with their bonuses.
How did President Hoover respond to the arrival of the Bonus Army in Washington, D.C. in 1932?
After the Bonus Army attacked police following the failure of Congress to pass the Bonus Bill, Hoover ordered out the U.S. Army. Douglas MacArthur used troops, tanks, and tear gas to drive the veterans from Washington.
In 1932, the Democratic Party nominated New York's Governor, Franklin Roosevelt, to run against President Hoover. What were the central components of Roosevelt's campaign?
Roosevelt sharply critiqued Hoover's deficit spending, contending that government extravagance had led to the worsening Depression. Roosevelt promised to streamline the government, cut government expenditures by 25%, and balance the budget.
In addition, Roosevelt supported repealing Prohibition, hoping that grain purchases by brewers and distillers would raise crop prices.
What were the results of the 1932 election?
Running for re-election in the midst of a Depression, Hoover was resoundingly defeated by FDR. In addition, Democrats swept both houses of Congress.
In between his defeat in November 1932 and Roosevelt's inauguration in March 1933, President Hoover sought to work with Roosevelt in an effort to cope with the worsening Depression. How did Roosevelt respond?
Hoover sought Roosevelt's permission to issue a joint statement to reassure the country, and to enact a bank holiday, during which banks could sort out their assets and determine their solvency. Roosevelt ignored Hoover's request, and failed to even respond to Hoover's letters.
By the time of Roosevelt's inauguration 1,000 more banks had closed, mainly in agricultural areas.
In response to the Great Depression, President Roosevelt announced a "New Deal," composed of the three R's:
- relief for the unemployed
- recovery of the economy as a whole
- reform of America's economic institutions
President Franklin Roosevelt's advisors, many of them professors from elite universities, were known as the _____ _____.
Members of the Brain Trust were appointed to run several of the new federal agencies that appeared as a result of Roosevelt's Hundred Days Legislation, including Rexford Tugwell who ran the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, and Hugh "Iron Pants" Johnson, who presided over the National Recovery Administration.
Immediately after his inauguration, President Roosevelt called Congress into a one hundred-day session to consider legislation to address the economy. What agencies resulted from the "Hundred Days"?
At Roosevelt's direction, Congress passed legislation which established several agencies directed at stimulating the economy, including the:
- Works Progress Administration (WPA)
- Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
- Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA)
- National Recovery Association (NRA)
On his first full day in office, President Franklin Roosevelt announced the closure of what type of businesses?
On March 5, 1933, President Roosevelt announced a "bank holiday" and ordered all banks closed. The measure was necessary, he contended, to prevent further bank runs, and to allow the government and the banks themselves to assess their solvency.
Although many banks would never reopen, on March 9, 1933, Congress passed the Emergency Banking Act, which allowed banks to reopen on March 13, provided they were solvent. The Emergency Banking Act provided an explicit federal guarantee of all bank-held funds, and stopped further runs.
Passed as part of Franklin Roosevelt's "Hundred Days" legislation, what was the purpose of the Public Works Administration (PWA)?
The PWA employed millions of unskilled workers on public works projects, such as building parks, post offices, and bridges.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was established in 1933 as part of the "Hundred Days" legislation. What was this agency's purpose?
The CCC focused on forestry, the prevention of soil erosion, flood control, and similar projects. Aimed primarily at young men whose families received $25 (the men only received $5), many of the CCC's camps were set up in National Forests and under the control of the Army.
How did the Agricultural Adjustment Act (1933) seek to remedy the low crop prices that plagued farmers in the early years of the Depression?
The Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), passed during the "Hundred Days," paid farmers to let a portion of their land lie unplanted, in the hopes that the crop supply would be reduced and the price of those crops would increase.
Although the AAA did stabilize prices, it had a disastrous effect on sharecroppers in the South, where landowners merely removed the sharecroppers from their land, or failed to pay AAA money forward. Sharecropping became exceedingly rare.
In 1935, the Supreme Court ruled the AAA unconstitutional.
What was the National Recovery Act (1933)?
The National Recovery Act (NRA) was one of the first New Deal programs, passed as part of Roosevelt's "Hundred Days" program. The NRA suspended antitrust laws and required each industry to set amounts for finished products, wages, hours of work, and maximum goods produced.
The NRA, modeled on a similar program established by Benito Mussolini, had only a negligible effect on the economy, and the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in 1935.
A "Hooverville" was a nickname for the shantytowns built by homeless people during the Great Depression, and named after President Hoover, whom they blamed for the Depression.
The term "Hooverville" was coined by the publicity chief of the Democratic National Committee, Charles Michelson.
On occasion during his four terms in office, President Franklin Roosevelt conducted radio broadcasts, during which he explained his perceptions of the problems facing the country and his proposed solutions. These talks with the American people were known as fireside chats.
During his presidency Roosevelt held 30 of these conferences, which typically began, "My friends, I want to talk..."
In an effort to halt falling prices (deflation), Congress ended the convertibility of paper dollars into _____ in 1933.
The United States was still ostensibly on the gold standard because the amount of paper currency was still limited by the amount of gold held by the Treasury.
Congress also made it illegal for American citizens to hold onto American gold dollars and other gold currency.
What federal agency was created by Congressional legislation in 1933 and 1934 to oversee the operations of the country's stock exchanges?
The Securities and Exchange Commission
The SEC monitors stock issuance, regulates companies' disclosure of material information, and oversees stock trades to ensure fairness for all investors.
Receiving a federal charter in May of 1933, the _____ _____ _____ provided rural electrification in six Southern states.
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
In addition to building power plants and running electrical lines, the TVA provided construction jobs and advised farmers on planting techniques, such as the use of fertilizer and crop rotation.
In late 1933, two thirds of states approved the Twenty-First Amendment. What did this amendment provide?
The Twenty-First Amendment ended Prohibition by repealing the Eighteenth Amendment. To date, the Eighteenth Amendment is the only repealed Amendment of the Constitution.
Although not supported by President Roosevelt, Congress passed legislation to establish the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in June of 1933. What is the FDIC's primary role?
The FDIC guarantees the safety of deposits in member banks, by ensuring that deposits in an amount up to $250,000 will be repaid by the U.S. government to the depositor in the event the member bank fails.
By backing banks with the full faith and credit of the U.S government, the FDIC reassured bank customers during the Great Depression and helped prevent bank runs.
Historians typically divide Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs into two periods; the First New Deal and the Second New Deal. What are the differences between the two?
The First New Deal focused primarily on the first of the three "Rs," recovery, and the programs were mostly enacted in 1933. Many of these programs failed to boost the economy.
The Second New Deal focused on the second two "Rs," relief and reform. Enacted after the Democratic victory in the Congressional election of 1934, the Second New Deal included programs like the Works Progress Administration and the Social Security Administration.
After seeing two elderly women dig through the trash outside his home in Long Beach, California, Dr. Francis Townsend came up with a controversial plan to rejuvenate the economy. What did Townsend propose?
Townsend proposed establishing a 2% national sales tax and using the proceeds to provide $200 to each U.S. citizen over age 65. Townsend believed that the prompt spending of the $200 would stimulate the economy.
Although unfeasible, the plan's nationwide popularity prompted Roosevelt to suggest the Social Security Administration.
In 1935, Congress passed the Social Security Act as part of the Second New Deal. How did Social Security work?
Employers and employees contribute to a trust fund, administered by the Social Security Administration. When employees retire, they receive payments. Payments are also made to those who are or become disabled, and to their dependents.
The _____ _____ _____ _____ guaranteed workers' rights to join unions, and established the right of employers to negotiate collectively.
National Labor Relations Act (1935)
The Act also established the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB is responsible for protecting workers' rights to engage in union activity.
What was the American Liberty League?
The American Liberty League was a coalition of anti-Franklin Roosevelt Democrats and Republicans. They opposed the pro-Union orientation of New Deal legislation, and were sharply critical of the deficit-spending Roosevelt used to fund his program.
Who founded the National Union for Social Justice?
Father Charles Coughlin, a Catholic priest whose radio show attracted a nationwide audience, established the National Union for Social Justice. The Union proposed a nationalization of all banks and currency inflation.
Strongly against the New Deal, Coughlin's radio talks became anti-Semitic and pro-Fascist, and the Church barred Coughlin from further radio shows.
Huey Long, the former Governor of Louisiana and that state's Senator from 1932 until he was killed in 1935, opposed Roosevelt's New Deal legislation by proposing his "Share the Wealth" program. What were the key provisions of Long's program?
Long proposed a national minimum income of $2,500, a maximum income of $1 million, old age pensions, and free college education. There was a significant threat that Long would form a third party to oppose Roosevelt.
Long was killed by the son-in-law of a political opponent in 1935.
In 1936, the Republicans ran Governor Alf Landon against Franklin Roosevelt. What were the key components of the Republican campaign?
The Republicans adopted much of the Democratic Party's campaign platform from 1932, including campaigning against deficit-spending and Roosevelt's profligacy.
Accused of stealing the Democrats' 1932 platform, the Republicans countered, "Why not? The Democrats have no more use for it, and it is in perfectly good condition, never having been used.”
In the 1936 presidential election, President Roosevelt won one of the largest electoral victories in modern times, in part due to votes from those dependent on his New Deal programs. What was the result of Roosevelt's victory?
Roosevelt viewed the election as a mandate to continue his New Deal programs, even going so far as to suggesting that he be allowed to add six new Justices to the Supreme Court, so as to ensure that the Court did not interfere with his legislative agenda.
In 1937, Roosevelt requested that Congress give him the power to name an additional Justice for each current Supreme Court Justice who was older than 70.5 years, a move the critics called the "Court-Packing Plan." Why did Roosevelt take such a step?
Angered that the Supreme Court had struck down much of his legislation as unconstitutional, including the National Recovery Act and the Agricultural Administration Act, Roosevelt accused the Court as "being unwilling to cooperate" and sought to curtail the Court's power.
How did Congress and the Supreme Court react to President Roosevelt's Court-Packing Plan in 1937?
Both Republicans and Democrats reacted with shock and horror that the President would tamper with the checks and balances contained in the Constitution. The Court-Packing Bill was defeated in Congress.
Many historians contend that the Supreme Court was influenced by President Roosevelt's Court-Packing Plan. What evidence do historians point to in support of their conclusion?
Shortly following the dismissal of the Court-Packing Plan, the Supreme Court declined to strike several pieces of New Deal legislation, including the National Labor Relations Act and the Social Security Act.
Several judges retired during Roosevelt's second term, allowing him to appoint justices of his own choosing.
Union membership skyrocketed during the Great Depression, prompted in part by the National Recovery Act and the National Labor Relations Act. How did the increased membership affect the American Federation of Labor?
Skilled white workers dominated the AFL and they reacted with displeasure to the efforts of John L. Lewis, who called for union membership to be extended to all workers, regardless of sex, race, and whether or not they were skilled or unskilled.
John L. Lewis, the head of the United Mine Workers, led a revolt and formed the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), which concentrated on textile, automobile, and steel workers.
The breach between the AFL and CIO became so virulent that John L. Lewis socked an AFL leader on the jaw at a labor convention.
During a sit-down strike, workers sit down on the job, and refuse to work until their demands are granted.
Sit-down strikes were used during a 1936-37 strike at the General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan. After Franklin Roosevelt and Michigan's governor refused to intervene, General Motors recognized CIO affiliated United Auto Workers Union.
Although unemployment was still high, by early 1937, the economy appeared to be improving, with production, profits, and wages returning to pre-1929 levels, and Roosevelt began to curtail the New Deal programs and make efforts to balance the budget. What was the effect on the economy?
The economy slipped into a recession in mid-1937 that lasted almost 18 months. Manufacturing plummeted, and unemployment rose back to 19%. In response, Roosevelt resumed "priming the pump" and increased government spending.
Roosevelt blamed "business" for causing the recession in an effort to make him abandon the New Deal.
The Memorial Day Massacre took place in Chicago, 1937, where police killed 10 people and injured 30. What led to the Massacre?
In 1937, John Lewis's CIO announced a strike at the Republic Steel plant in Chicago, and attempted to march on it. Police blocked the way, and when the crowd refused to disperse, opened fire.
One of the last pieces of New Deal legislation was the Fair Labor Standards Act (1938). What did the Fair Labor Standards Act establish?
The Fair Labor Standards Act limited child labor for those under the age of 16. In addition, it established a minimum wage and the 40-hour work week.
Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt's wife, proved to be different from previous First Ladies. How so?
In an era where few women had careers, and previous First Ladies had restricted their role to White House hostess, Eleanor Roosevelt continued her active life during her husband's Presidency.
She accepted money for public speaking, hosted a radio program selling Sweetheart Soap, published an autobiography, and wrote a weekly newspaper column. She was also an outspoken advocate of workers' rights, racial and sexual equality, and the Red Cross.
After years of poor farming techniques, a drought and high winds coupled to blow away the topsoil and create massive dust clouds in the Great Plains states, which were termed the "Dust Bowl."
As their farms turned to dust around them, thousands of farmers migrated west to California, where they were known as "Okies," regardless of their state of origin.
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, is a fictional account of the Joad family's journey from the Dust Bowl to California.
During the New Deal, Congress passed the first substantive legislation related to Indians, the Indian Reorganization (Wheeler-Howard) Act of 1934. What did the Act establish?
The Indian Reorganization Act overturned the Dawes Act (1887), which had attempted to establish independent Indian farmers. Under the Indian Reorganization Act, reservation lands were returned to the control of the Indian tribes.
In an effort to acquire natural resources and expand its territory, Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931, violating the Open Door Policy, the Washington Naval Conference agreements, and the League of Nations' charter. How did the League of Nations react?
The League of Nations passed a resolution condemning Japan's actions (after which Japan walked out of the League of Nations), but otherwise did nothing.
The United States issued the Stimson Doctrine, which stated that the United States would not recognize any territory acquired by conquest. The League of Nations issued a similar statement.
During his first inaugural address, President Franklin Roosevelt announced the "Good Neighbor Policy" in his relations with Latin America. What did Roosevelt's Good Neighbor Policy entail?
Under the Good Neighbor Policy, the United States would no longer intervene in the internal affairs of Latin American countries.
How did Roosevelt justify his decision to recognize the Soviet Union?
Although previous administrations had refused to recognize the U.S.S.R., Roosevelt pushed through legislation which recognized the Soviet Union in 1935, contending that doing so would allow for increased trade opportunities.
Although Fascism escapes an easy definition, it can generally be described as a system of government that is ruled by a dictator, usually has a heavy emphasis on strong military, is strongly nationalistic, and promotes hatred of those who are considered "impure."
In 1933, Adolf Hitler seized control of Germany, although his Nazi Party never received more than 40% of the popular vote. What tools did Hitler use to increase his popularity in Germany?
Hitler appealed to the German people by promising a return to economic prosperity, and by holding the Jews responsible for Germany's loss in World War I.
How did the League of Nations and the United States react to the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935?
Both the League of Nations and the United States protested loudly, but otherwise did nothing.
The Ethiopians managed to hold off an Italian force armed with modern weapons for over a year.
In 1936, German military forces swept into the Rhineland, in violation of which treaty?
Pursuant to the Treaty of Versailles, the Rhineland (a German province) was to remain free of military forces. Although the re-occupation was a violation of the Treaty, there was little protest and no concerted action by the former Allied Powers.
Isolationism is a foreign policy under which one isolates their country from economic and diplomatic relations with other countries. Isolationists typically devote their entire efforts to their own internal advancement.
During the 1930s, American foreign policy was profoundly isolationist.
How did the Nye Committee influence foreign policy in the 1930s?
The Nye Committee, led by Senator Gerald Nye of North Dakota, held the strict belief that American entrance into World War I was fueled by the greed of bankers and arms manufacturers. As isolationists, the Committee had a vital influence on the passing of the Neutrality Acts of the mid-1930s.
What did the various Neutrality Acts, passed in the mid-1930s, state?
Each Neutrality Act limited the United States' aid to any countries engaged in war.
- Neutrality Act of 1935: prohibited arms distribution and American travel on belligerent ships
- Neutrality Act of 1936: prohibited loans to belligerent nations
- Neutrality Act of 1937: prohibited arms distribution to either side of the participants of the Spanish Civil War
Although strictly against the terms of the Versailles Treaty, in 1933 Hitler's Germany annexed _____, an event known as the Anschluss.
Once more, the League of Nations, the European powers, and the United States did little, except to conduct some mild diplomatic protests.
What was the Lincoln Brigade?
The Lincoln Brigade was a group of American volunteers who fought for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War against Francisco Franco and the nationalists.
The United States remained neutral in the conflict, prohibiting the exports of arms to either side under the Neutrality Acts.
Ernest Hemingway set his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls during the Spanish Civil War.
In 1937, rising tensions led to a Japanese declaration of war against _____.
The Japanese conquered much of eastern China, including Shanghai and Guangxi. The Japanese attacks were characterized by ruthless brutality, including chemical and biological warfare against Chinese forces.
In 1937, President Roosevelt's suggestion that the democracies of the world quarantine aggressor nations met with negative reaction. What prompted Roosevelt's suggestion?
Roosevelt's speech was prompted by Japanese aggression in China. Roosevelt's Quarantine Speech had the opposite of his intended result and increased American isolationist sentiment.
Hitler's desire for a portion of Czechoslovakia led to what international conference in 1938?
The Munich Conference
Hitler wanted a portion of Czechoslovakia known as Sudetenland. At the Munich Conference, Britain and France awarded the Sudetenland to Germany, upon Hitler's promise not to make any further territorial demands.
Giving in to Hitler's demands was known as appeasement, a diplomatic policy aimed at avoiding war by making concessions to an aggressor.