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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, and industrial production went into a tailspin. It is still looked on as a watershed event in our society that ushered in new philosophies and programs relative to the role of government in a market economy. 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 ...

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