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GREAT DEPRESSION ( adapted text)


Source :http://www.englisharticles.info/2011/02/08/great-depression/
The Great Depression was an economic downturn of unprecedented
proportions. The stock market crashed, unemployment soared, banks closed
their doors, spending on goods and services plummeted(1), and industrial
production went into a tailspin. To even begin to understand the depth of this
economic downturn, it must be seen against the prosperity that existed just
prior to the depression itself. The period between World War I and the Great
Depression was one of unprecedented prosperity. Many people became new
millionaires, the stock market soared, and production of goods and services
increased dramatically. The United States emerged from World War I
economically and physically undamaged, giving it an advantage in world
markets. Mass production methods were employed in many industries
increasing production of goods and services. Several major new products, such
as automobiles and electric power, created many new jobs and markets.
Installment buying(2) became popular and, coupled with the widespread use
of advertising and new sales techniques, stimulated consumption of these
products. Enormous profits could be made in stock market speculation, and low
margin requirements made it possible for many people to participate. There
were thus many reasons for this prosperity.
All this ended, however, when the bottom dropped out of the economy in 1929
with the start of the Great Depression. Waves of panic struck the banking
system from 1930 through 1933, forcing more than 9,000 banks with deposits
of $7 billion to close their doors. More than 9 million savings accounts were
lost, and thousands of businesses went bankrupt. Panic selling hit the stock
market and paper fortunes were lost overnight when the crash began. Panic
quickly set in, and the whole speculative structure collapsed rapidly.
The prosperity of the late 1920s was not shared by societys agricultural sector
and working classes. Farm purchasing power(3) steadily deteriorated
throughout this period, aggravated by the inelastic demand for farm products.
Coupled with this problem was a bad and worsening distribution of income.
Most of the money in the 1920s went to those who were already wealthy(4)
rather than to workers with lower incomes. Smaller proportions of total income
went toward wages and salaries.
Whatever the real causes of the depression, the long-term effects are quite
clear. Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the election of 1932 by promising a new
deal for the American people. This New Deal consisted of a series of public
policy measures : the federal government assumed responsibility for
stimulating business activity to escape the depression and correct abuses in
the economy. It sought to relieve the distress being felt by business, farmers,
workers, homeowners, consumers, investors, and other groups. Roosevelt
himself saw the New Deal as a set of programs to save the free-enterprise
system by fusing welfare benefits and market reforms to a capitalist
foundation.
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1) plummet= v. cadere a piombo 2) acquisto a rate 3) potere d'acquisto dei


contadini 4) rich ( adj)

Read the article and answer the questions in the spaces provided
1)What happened in the USA during the Great Depression?
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2) How had the USA developed before 1929?
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3)Which were the main consequences for the nation of the 1929 's WALL STREET
CRASH?
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4)What social classes were seriously influenced by the economic changes? Why?
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5)What do you know about the Industrial Revolution?
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