Research Paper: Roaring Twenties

1729 words - 7 pages

Research Paper: Roaring Twenties
After World War 1, America had to demobilize and revert back to a peace time economy. During the 1920’s, it was viewed as a prosperous economy since there was a new labor force due to demobilization, new inventions, and a new infrastructure. Also moral spirits were high since America along with the Allied Powers defeated Germany and the Great War was finally over. However, America began making many economic policies and decisions that will eventually lead up to the Great Depression.
One economic policy was that “the Federal Reserve had raised interest rates in hopes of slowing the rapid rise in stock prices” (Romer, 3). At the time the “stock prices had ...view middle of the document...

Some examples of the new infrastructure would be new roads, highways, expressways, electrification, and telephone lines (“”). More than half of the government nonmilitary investments were used on highways (122). Another 27 percent of the nonmilitary investments were used on nonresidential buildings such as schools and 12.5 percent were used for the water infrastructure (122). It is believed that most investment in an infrastructure would usually be paid off in the next election cycle which is what the government was depending on (Rauch, 970). Even though the economy was booming, the United States was in severe debt from World War 1. To make it worse, other countries owe America money since it was the largest creditor, however, this would cause the global economy to slow down (Romer, 5). With further spending on the new infrastructure, the government was plunged deeper into debt hence adding severity to the Great Depression that was soon to come.
The 1922 Forney-McCumber Act was another policy that would lead to the Great Depression. This was based off of the idea of protectionism and a successor to the 1913 Underwood-Simmons Tariff. During the Great War, the agriculture industry enjoyed great prosperity due to the fact that the Americans were exporting large supplies of food to Europe (Kaplan). After the war, the output of American goods would decrease because Europe will no longer require the assistance. The surplus of American agricultural goods could no longer be absorbed into the national economy thereby driving the price of good down (Kaplan). From this, the industry, gained a gross income of 10.5 billion dollars down from 17.7 billion dollars, and the index of all farm prices dropped up to thirty points (Kaplan). The reason for this tariff was to protect American agriculture goods from many other imports hence raising prices for domestic goods. However, this tariff failed because the agricultural industry was now too dependent on foreign markets especially during World War 1. This tariff basically drove prices of farm equipment up, hence causing less production and driving the agricultural industry further into depression (Kaplan). Also to damage the agricultural industry furthermore, other countries began to have tariff wars therefore placing emphasis on isolation and a revival of protectionism (Kaplan). This in turn would hurt all domestic and international economies because the industrialized nations were already a part of a globalized economy that were each interdependent on each other. From this, the federal government will pass the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930, raising the tariff even higher. This tariff will be the “beginning of the end of major US protectionism in the 20th century.” This would cause the United States to become even more isolated hence plunging it into the Great Depression.
Another policy would be that the United States chose to return to the Gold standard. “Under the Gold standard, each...

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