Welcome to some background on a very unfortunate time in history. The Great Depression lasted from 1929 to 1939, and was the worst
economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world. It began after
the stock market crash of October 1929, which sent Wall Street into a panic and
wiped out millions of investors. Over the next several years, consumer spending
and investment dropped, causing steep declines in industrial output and
employment as failing companies laid off workers. By 1933, when the Great
Depression reached its lowest point, some 15 million Americans were unemployed
and nearly half the country’s banks had failed.
Causes of the Great Depression
Throughout the 1920s, the U.S. economy
expanded rapidly, and the nation’s total wealth more than doubled between 1920
and 1929, a period dubbed “the Roaring Twenties.”
The stock market, centered at the New York Stock
Exchange on Wall Street in New York City,
was the scene of reckless speculation, where everyone from millionaire tycoons
to cooks and janitors poured their savings into stocks. As a result, the stock
market underwent rapid expansion, reaching its peak in August 1929.
By then, production had
already declined and unemployment had risen, leaving stock prices much higher
than their actual value. Additionally, wages at that time were low, consumer
debt was proliferating, the agricultural sector of the economy was struggling
due to drought and falling food prices, and banks had an excess of large loans
that could not be liquidated.
The American economy
entered a mild recession during the summer of 1929, as consumer spending slowed
and unsold goods began to pile up, which in turn slowed factory production.
Nonetheless, stock prices continued to rise, and by the fall of that year had
reached stratospheric levels that could not be justified by expected future
Market Crash of 1929
On October 24, 1929, as nervous
investors began selling overpriced shares en masse, the stock market crash
that some had feared happened at last. A record 12.9 million shares were traded
that day, known as “Black Thursday.”
Five days later, on October 29 or “Black
Tuesday,” some 16 million shares were traded after another wave of
panic swept Wall Street. Millions of shares ended up worthless, and those
investors who had bought stocks “on margin” (with borrowed money) were wiped
As consumer confidence
vanished in the wake of the stock market crash, the downturn in spending and
investment led factories and other businesses to slow down production and begin
firing their workers. For those who were lucky enough to remain employed, wages
fell and buying power decreased.
Many Americans forced to
buy on credit fell into debt, and the number of foreclosures and repossessions
climbed steadily. The global adherence to the gold standard,
which joined countries around the world in a fixed currency exchange, helped
spread economic woes from the United States throughout the world, especially
Bank Runs and the Hoover Administration
Despite assurances from President Herbert Hoover
and other leaders that the crisis would run its course, matters continued to
get worse over the next three years. By 1930, 4 million Americans looking for
work could not find it; that number had risen to 6 million in 1931.
Meanwhile, the country’s industrial
production had dropped by half. Bread lines, soup
kitchens and rising numbers of homeless people became more and more
common in America’s towns and cities. Farmers couldn’t afford to harvest their
crops, and were forced to leave them rotting in the fields while people
In the fall of 1930, the first of four waves
of banking panics began, as large numbers of investors lost confidence in the
solvency of their banks and demanded deposits in cash, forcing banks to
liquidate loans in order to supplement their insufficient cash reserves on
hand. Bank runs swept the United States again in the spring and fall of 1931
and the fall of 1932, and by early 1933 thousands of banks had closed their
In the face of this dire
situation, Hoover’s administration tried supporting failing banks and other
institutions with government loans; the idea was that the banks in turn would
loan to businesses, which would be able to hire back their employees.
FDR and the New Deal
Hoover, a Republican who had formerly
served as U.S. secretary of commerce, believed that government should not
directly intervene in the economy, and that it did not have the responsibility
to create jobs or provide economic relief for its citizens.
In 1932, however, with the country mired
in the depths of the Great Depression and some 15 million people (more than 20
percent of the U.S. population at the time) unemployed, Democrat Franklin D.
Roosevelt won an overwhelming victory in the presidential election.
By Inauguration Day (March
4, 1933), every U.S. state had ordered all remaining banks to close at the end
of the fourth wave of banking panics, and the U.S. Treasury didn’t have enough
cash to pay all government workers. Nonetheless, FDR (as he was known)
projected a calm energy and optimism, famously declaring that “the only thing
we have to fear is fear itself.”
Roosevelt took immediate
action to address the country’s economic woes, first announcing a four-day
“bank holiday” during which all banks would close so that Congress could pass
reform legislation and reopen those banks determined to be sound. He also began
addressing the public directly over the radio in a series of talks, and these
so-called “fireside chats”
went a long way towards restoring public confidence.
During Roosevelt’s first 100 days in office,
his administration passed legislation that aimed to stabilize industrial and
agricultural production, create jobs and stimulate recovery. In addition,
Roosevelt sought to reform the financial system, creating the Federal Deposit
Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to protect depositors’ accounts and the Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC) to regulate the stock market and prevent
abuses of the kind that led to the 1929 crash.
After showing early signs of recovery
beginning in the spring of 1933, the economy continued to improve throughout
the next three years, during which real GDP (adjusted for inflation) grew at an
average rate of 9 percent per year. A sharp recession hit in 1937, caused in
part by the Federal Reserve’s decision to increase its requirements for money
in reserve. Though the economy began improving again in 1938, this second
severe contraction reversed many of the gains in production and employment and
prolonged the effects of the Great Depression through the end of the decade.
Depression-era hardships had fueled the rise
of extremist political movements in various European countries, most notably
that of Adolf Hitler’s
Nazi regime in Germany. German aggression led war to break out in Europe in
1939, and the WPA turned its attention to strengthening the military
infrastructure of the United States, even as the country maintained its
The Great Depression Ends and World War II Begins
With Roosevelt’s decision to support
Britain and France in the struggle against Germany and the other Axis Powers,
defense manufacturing geared up, producing more and more private sector jobs.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
in December 1941 led to America’s entry into World War II,
and the nation’s factories went back in full production mode.
This expanding industrial production, as well
as widespread conscription beginning in 1942, reduced the unemployment rate to
below its pre-Depression level.
When the Great Depression
began, the United States was the only industrialized country in the world
without some form of unemployment insurance or social security. In 1935,
Congress passed the Social Security Act,
which for the first time provided Americans with unemployment, disability and
pensions for old age.
Clancy's comment: Tough times indeed. Not sure why, but I've always been keen to write a novel involving folks in the 1929 or 1913 Depression. Should be a challenging but enjoyable task I reckon.
Welcome to some background on a woman who hit the world as a pop star, but has gone on to achieve other claims to fame. Pop singer Victoria Beckham
rose to fame in the 1990s as a member of the Spice Girls. She is also known for
her successful fashion empire and her marriage to former soccer star David
Who Is Victoria Beckham?
Victoria Beckham rose to
fame as "Posh Spice" in the British pop group the Spice Girls. The
group released their debut album, Spice, in 1996, a smash success that
sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. After the group split up in 2000,
Beckham embarked on a solo musical career and later explored her love of
fashion, developing a line of jeans called VB Rocks in 2004. In 2007, Beckham
went on a reunion tour with the Spice Girls, but she ultimately focused her
career on fashion, launching her own fashion line in
2008. Beckham also makes headlines because of her high-profile marriage to
former soccer star David
Victoria Adams was born on
April 17, 1974, in Hertfordshire, England. After achieving success as a pop
singer in the 1990s, Beckham became one of the most photographed women in the
world, with the tabloids seeming to follow nearly every move that she and her
husband, soccer star David Beckham, make. Capitalizing on her broad exposure,
Victoria Beckham built her own brand, consisting of clothing, perfume and
Raised in an affluent
family, Beckham started studying ballet at a young age. She pursued her
interest in dance at the Laine Arts Theatre College in Surrey when she was 17.
After three years there, Beckham moved to London to try to make it as a dancer.
Her lucky break came when she answered a casting call seeking energetic
and hard-working female performers in 1993. Out of the 400 women who
applied, Beckham was chosen to become part of a new all-female pop music group.
Created by manager Chris
Herbert, the band that would become known as the Spice Girls started rehearsing
together. The final lineup came together by mid-1993 and included Melanie
Bunton and Beckham. The group wanted more creative control and soon
broke off with Herbert. They later signed with manager Brian Fuller and landed
a contract with Virgin Records.
Each of the five members of
the Spice Girls developed their own persona: Melanie Brown was known as
"Scary Spice"; Melanie Chisholm was "Sporty Spice"; Geri
Halliwell was "Ginger Spice"; Emma Bunton was "Baby Spice";
and Beckham was "Posh Spice." They released their debut album, Spice,
in 1996 and reached the top of the charts with the catchy dance-pop song
"Wannabe" the following year. The follow-up single, "Say You'll
Be There," climbed as high as No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart. The
album eventually sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.
The group's "girl power" message
attracted a substantial audience, especially young teenage girls. In 1997, the
group released their second album, Spiceworld,
and starred in a film of the same name early the following year. While they
scored a hit with the song "2 Become 1," the Spice Girls failed to
duplicate the success of their debut recording. The film featured cameos by
such performers as Elvis
Geldof and Elton
John, and had some success at the box office, netting close to $30
In 2000, the
Spice Girls released the album Forever,
recorded after Halliwell had left the group. As the remaining members
drifted apart to pursue other projects, Beckham went solo, releasing a
self-titled album in 2001.
The Spice Girls reunited for a series of
concerts in 2007 and 2008. In June 2012, they reunited again, this time to
announce the creation of a new musical about their rise and fall, Viva Forever!, written by
Jennifer Saunders and named after the group's 1998 No. 1 single. That
year, the group also performed at the closing ceremony of the Summer
Olympic Games, held in London.
another reunion surfaced in February 2018, when the Spice Girls met with
former manager Simon Fuller in London. One week later, TMZ reported
that a summer tour was indeed in the works, though the group had yet to
formally confirm anything.
to David Beckham
In 1997, Beckham met soccer
star David Beckham, then with Manchester United. The two soon became one of
Britain's most popular couples, known in the tabloid as "Posh" and
"Becks." They became engaged in 1998 and welcomed their first child
together, son Brooklyn, on March 4, 1999. That summer, the couple wed in a
lavish ceremony at a castle in Ireland. The Beckhams have three other children:
sons Romeo (born September 1, 2002) and Cruz (February 20, 2005) and daughter
Harper (July 10, 2011).
The Beckhams packed up for
a move to Spain when David signed a lucrative deal to play for the Real
Madrid club in 2003. Four years later it was on to America, where the
well-known soccer star signed on to play for the L.A. Galaxy. The arrival
of the Beckhams in Hollywood created quite a media frenzy. Beckham's friend and
neighbor, model and TV personality Heidi
Klum, told Harper's Bazaar: "Under all that glam
and glitz is a really lovely person who is genuine, funny, sexy and such a
Stepping away from the
music scene, Beckham explored her love of fashion. She developed a line of
jeans called VB Rocks for the Rock & Republic brand in 2004. In 2006,
Beckham shared her fashion tips in the book That Extra Half an Inch:
Hair, Heels and Everything in Between. One year later, Beckham launched her
own line of sunglasses called dVb Eyewear, and a line of jeans soon followed.
Although Beckham has
rejoined the Spice Girls for their reunions, she has said several times that
her main focus is fashion. She expanded her clothing line in 2008, introducing
a new line of dresses. "Everything that I design I would wear
myself," Beckham once said. Her business empire also includes a line of
In 2009, Beckham became the model for the
Emporio Armani underwear line for women. Her husband had previously been
featured in ads for their men's line. Beckham explained that she took the job
because "when I'm 50, I can look back and say, 'Hey, Mommy didn't look too
bad after having three kids,'" she told Time.
maintains a light-hearted attitude about being the target of frequent tabloid
news stories. "I've had so many ludicrous things written about me and my
family and my friends that it's almost like a joke," she told Allure magazine. For right
now, Beckham is focused on her work as a designer. "I'm so grateful to the
fashion industry for accepting me and giving me a chance."
Beckham penned an
autobiography, Learning to Fly, which became a best-seller in Britain
following its 2001 publication.
Beckham invited television
audiences inside her life with the reality special Victoria's Secrets,
which aired on British television in 2000. She has been the focus of several
other television programs since then, including Being Victoria Beckham, The
Real Beckhams, Victoria Beckham - A Mile In Their Shoes and Victoria
Beckham: Coming to America.
Beckham's success has also
attracted its share of unwanted attention: In 2002, authorities uncovered a
plot to kidnap the pop star and hold her for ransom.
Clancy's comment: And, I'd hate to mention the figure I heard a few years back as to what her husband was paid per month to play soccer / football. It was gob smacking, but fame and fortune do not always lead to happiness.
Welcome to some background on a man who has wielded some considerable power for many decades as a media magnate.Media magnate Rupert Murdoch is the founder and head of
News Corporation, a global media conglomerate. He created Fox Broadcasting
Company in 1986.
Who Is Rupert
Murdoch was born on March 11, 1931, in Melbourne, Australia. His father was a
famous war correspondent and newspaper publisher. Murdoch inherited his
father's papers, the Sunday Mail and the News, and continued to
purchase other media outlets over the years. In the 1970s, he started buying
American newspapers. Murdoch branched out into entertainment with the purchase
of 20th Century Fox Film Corp. in 1985, and later sparked transformation of the
cable TV landscape by introducing Fox News. Four years after restructuring his
empire into two divisions, 21st Century Fox Inc. and News Corp., Murdoch
in 2017 sold much of 21st Century Fox to the Walt Disney Company.
Early Life and
Rupert Murdoch was born on March 11, 1931, on a small farm about 30 miles south
of Melbourne, Australia. Since birth, Murdoch has gone by his middle name,
Rupert, the name of his maternal grandfather. His father, Keith Murdoch, was a
well-known Australian journalist who owned a number of local and regional
newspapers: the Herald in Melbourne, the Courier-Mail in Brisbane
and the News and Sunday Mail.
family farm was named Cruden Farm, after the Scottish village from which both
of Murdoch's parents had emigrated. The house at Cruden Farm was a stone building
with colonial pillars, adorned with original paintings, a grand piano and a
library of books, situated amongst green expanses of farmland and bordered by
Ghost Gum trees. Murdoch's favorite childhood pastime was horseback riding. His
mother later described her son's childhood: "I think it was a very normal
childhood, not in any way elaborate or an overindulged one. I suppose he was
lucky to be brought up in attractive—you could say
The son of a well-respected journalist, Murdoch
was groomed to enter the world of publishing from a very young age. He
remembers, "I was brought up in a publishing home, a newspaper man's home,
and was excited by that, I suppose. I saw that life at close range, and after
the age of 10 or 12 never really considered any other."
graduated from Geelong Grammar, a prestigious Australian boarding school, in
1949 before crossing the ocean to attend Worcester College at Oxford University
in England. According to one of his early biographers, Murdoch was a "a
normal, red-blooded college student who had many friends, chased girls, went on
the usual drinking binges, engaged in slapdash horseplay, tried at sports and
never had enough money, no doubt due to his gambling."
Murdoch's fun-loving youthful ways came to an
abrupt end when his father suddenly passed away in 1952, leaving his son the
owner of his Adelaide newspapers, the News and the Sunday Mail.
After preparing himself with a brief apprenticeship under Lord Beaverbrook at
the Daily Express in London, in 1953, a 22-year-old Murdoch returned to
Australia to take up the reins of his father's papers.
upon assuming control of the Sunday Mail and the News, Murdoch
immersed himself in all aspects of the papers' daily operations. He wrote
headlines, redesigned page layouts and labored in the typesetting and printing
rooms. He quickly converted the News into a chronicle of crime, sex and
scandal, and while these changes were controversial, the paper's circulation
Only three years later, in 1956, Murdoch
expanded his operations by purchasing the Perth-based Sunday Times, and revamped
it in the sensationalist style of the News.
Then, in 1960, Murdoch broke into the lucrative Sydney market by purchasing the
struggling Mirror and
slowly transforming it into Sydney's best-selling afternoon paper. Encouraged
by his success and harboring ambitions of political influence, in 1965 Murdoch
founded Australia's first national daily paper, the Australian, which helped to rebuild Murdoch's
image as a respectable news publisher.
In the fall of
1968, 37 years old and owner of an Australian news empire valued at $50
million, Murdoch moved to London and purchased the enormously popular Sunday
tabloid The News of the
World. One year later, he purchased another struggling daily
tabloid, the Sun,
and again oversaw a successful transformation with his formula of reporting
heavily on sex, sports and crime. The Sun
also attracted readers by including pictures of topless women in its infamous
"Page 3" feature.
Murdoch next expanded his news empire to the
United States, with the 1973 acquisition of a Texas-based tabloid, the San Antonio News. As he had
done in Australia and England, Murdoch quickly set out to expand across the
country, founding a national tabloid, the Star,
in 1974 and purchasing the New
York Post in 1976. In 1979, Murdoch founded News Corporation,
commonly referred to as News Corp., as a holding company for his various media
1980s and 1990s, Murdoch acquired news outlets around the globe at a dizzying
pace. In the United States, he bought up the Chicago
Sun-Times, the Village
Voice and New York
magazine. In England, he acquired the eminently respectable Times and Sunday Times of London.
also during these years that Murdoch began expanding his media empire into
television and entertainment. In 1985, he purchased 20th Century Fox Film
Corporation as well as several independent television stations and consolidated
these companies into Fox, Inc.—which has since become a major American
he founded Star TV, a Hong Kong-based television broadcasting company.
Additionally, after purchasing several prestigious American and British
academic and literary publishing companies throughout the late 1980s, he
consolidated them into HarperCollins in 1990. Murdoch has also invested in
sports; he is a part owner of the Los Angeles Kings NHL franchise, the Los
Angeles Lakers NBA franchise and the Staples Center, as well as Fox Sports 1
and the Fox Sports website.
dawn of the new century, Murdoch continued to expand News Corp's holdings to
control more and more of the media people view on a daily basis. In 2005, he
purchased Intermix Media, the owner of the popular social networking site
MySpace.com. Two years later, in 2007, the longtime newspaper mogul made
headlines himself with the purchase of Dow Jones, the owner of the Wall
has drawn wide criticism for monopolizing control over international media
outlets as well as for his conservative political views, which are often
reflected in the reporting of Murdoch-controlled outlets such as Fox News. In
the 2010 American midterm elections, News Corp donated $1 million each to the
Republican Governors Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a group
supporting Republican candidates. Critics argued that the owner of major news
sources covering the election should not contribute directly to the political
however, was dealt a significant blow in 2011. His London tabloid, The News
of the World, was caught up in a phone hacking scandal. Several editors and
journalists were brought up on charges for illegally accessing the voicemails
of some of Britain's leading figures. Rupert himself was called to testify that
same year, and he shut down The News of the World.
News Corp later paid
damages to some of individuals who were hacked.
this scandal, News Corp retains a significant share of virtually all forms of
media across the globe. Murdoch owns many of the books and newspapers people
read, the television shows and films they watch, the radio stations they listen
to, the websites they visit, and the blogs and social networks they create.
2013, he announced a significant restructuring of his empire. Murdoch decided
to divide his business into two companies—21st Century Fox Inc. and News Corp.
This move separated his entertainment holdings from his publishing interests.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Murdoch explained that "Both
companies will be uniquely positioned to execute on their respective strategic
objectives and to lead their industries forward."
he never could have imagined the power he would one day wield, this kind
of influence was exactly what Murdoch sought as a young publisher building his
empire. "I sensed the excitement and the power," he recalls.
"Not raw power, but the ability to influence at least the agenda of what
was going on." And after six decades working in the media, Murdoch has
said that he could not imagine his life any other way. "If you're in the
media, particularly newspapers, you are in the thick of all the interesting
things that are going on in a community, and I can't imagine any other life
that one would want to dedicate oneself to," he said.
and Sale to Disney
2015, news broke that Murdoch would be handing over the leadership of 21st
Century Fox to his son James. Murdoch would remain with the organization as
executive co-chairman, sharing the role with his oldest son, Lachlan.
2016, Roger Ailes,
chairman and CEO of Fox News and the Fox Television Stations Group, resigned
due to a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Fox television host Gretchen
Carlson. Murdoch announced he would assume Ailes's role temporarily.
restructuring of 21st Century Fox, the company engaged in talks with Walt
Disney over the sale of its properties. While discussions were said to have
ended by November 2017, they reportedly renewed within a few weeks, with
Fox considering offers for its movie and cable networks and
mid-December, terms of an agreement were reached in which Disney would purchase
most of 21st Century Fox in an all-stock transaction valued at around
$52.4 billion. Murdoch, who retained control of Fox News, the Fox
broadcast network and the FS1 sports cable channel, said he would spin those assets
into a newly listed company.
February 2018, a Wired cover story revealed details of an ongoing feud
between Murdoch and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The feud reportedly dated back to at least 2007, with accusations that
Murdoch's News Corp. had tried to ignite a scandal involving the presence of
sexual predators on Facebook. Later, in a 2016 meeting, Murdoch took Zuckerberg
to task for changing Facebook's news feed algorithm, giving the social platform
the power to dramatically affect traffic for other sites. News Corp. reportedly
threatened to retaliate via lobbying efforts and by launching an anti-Facebook
campaign through its many outlets.
Murdoch married Patricia Booker in 1956. They had a daughter, Prudence, before
divorcing in 1965. He married Anna Torv in 1967, and they had four children
before eventually divorcing in 1999. Only 17 days after his second divorce,
Murdoch married his third wife, Wendi Deng. They have two children.
filed for divorce from Deng in June 2013, citing that the "relationship
between husband and wife had broken down irretrievably" in court papers.
The news of the split came as a surprise to some, but there were some rumors of
trouble in the marriage in recent years. The divorce became final in 2014.
January 2016, Murdoch became engaged to Mick Jagger's
ex, Jerry Hall. The
couple reportedly began seeing each other the previous summer. They tied the
knot on March 4, 2016, in London.
Clancy's comment: He is a man who is no doubt smart, but there have been times when he didn't impress me. Imagine the alimony he has paid over the years?