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Wall Street Crash of 1929

The Wall Street Crash was the U.S. Stock Market crash of October 29, 1929, which precipitated a world-wide collapse of share values and triggered the Great Depression – 10 years of economic slump with catastrophic levels of unemployment across all the industrialized countries apart from the Soviet Union.

After the end of the First World War, the world economy was boosted by a period of reconstruction. In the early- to mid-1920s, a series of defeats were inflicted on the workers movement which had been engaged in revolutionary struggles in the wake of the War and the Russian Revolution. These events created conditions for an economic boom which became known as the “Roaring Twenties”. The value of shares on the US stock market rapidly climbed, reaching a peak at the end of August 1929. Prices began to decline in September and early October, while speculation continued, but came to an abrupt end on October 18, when the Stock Market began to fall precipitately. The first day of real panic, October 24, is known as “Black Thursday” – a record 12,894,650 shares were traded. Major banks and investment companies bought up stocks in an attempt to hold up prices and stem the panic, but the panic began again on “Black Monday”, and on “Black Tuesday”, October 29, 16,000,000 shares were sold, and prices on the stock market collapsed completely.

Bankruptcies and skyrocketing unemployment spread from the US to every country in the world, except the USSR, where production continued to expand after the devastation of the Wars of Intervention (1918-1922). The Soviet Union was relatively unaffected by the Crash, firstly because it was a planned economy and not dependent on speculation, and secondly because, in any case, it had been more or less isolated from the world economy. The Great Depression lasted into the late 1930s with 14 million unemployed in the US alone, most with little means of support until Roosevelt’s New Deal was brought in.

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