"The Greater Depression Has Started" - Comparing 1930s & Today

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Doug Casey via InternationalMan.com,

You've heard the axiom "History repeats itself." It does, but never in exactly the same way. To apply the lessons of the past, we must understand the differences of the present.

During the American Revolution, the British came prepared to fight a successful war—but against a European army. Their formations, which gave them devastating firepower, and their red coats, which emphasized their numbers, proved the exact opposite of the tactics needed to fight a guerrilla war.

Before World War I, generals still saw the cavalry as the flower of their armies. Of course, the horse soldiers proved worse than useless in the trenches.

Before World War II, in anticipation of a German attack, the French built the "impenetrable" Maginot Line. History repeated itself and the attack came, but not in the way they expected. Their preparations were useless because the Germans didn't attempt to penetrate it; they simply went around it, and France was defeated.

The generals don't prepare for the last war out of perversity or stupidity, but rather because past experience is all they have to go by. Most of them simply don't know how to interpret that experience. They are correct in preparing for another war but wrong in relying upon what worked in the last one.

Investors, unfortunately, seem to make the same mistakes in marshaling their resources as do the generals. If the last 30 years have been prosperous, they base their actions on more prosperity. Talk of a depression isn't real to them because things are, in fact, so different from the 1930s. To most people, a depression means '30s-style conditions, and since they don't see that, they can't imagine a depression. That's because they know what the last depression was like, but they don't know what one is. It's hard to visualize something you don't understand.

Some of them who are a bit more clever might see an end to prosperity and the start of a depression but—al­though they're going to be a lot better off than most—they're probably looking for this depression to be like the last one.

Although nobody can predict with absolute certainty what this depression will be like, you can be fairly well-assured it won't be an instant replay of the last one. But just because things will be different doesn't mean you have to be taken by surprise.

To define the likely differences between this depres­sion and the last one, it's helpful to compare the situa­tion today to that in the early 1930s. The results aren't very reassuring.



Banks, insurance companies, and big corporations went under on a major scale. Institutions suffered the consequences of past mistakes, and there was no financial safety net to catch them as they fell. Mistakes were liquidated and only the prepared and efficient survived.


The world’s financial institutions are in even worse shape than the last time, but now business ethics have changed and everyone expects the government to "step in." Laws are already in place that not only allow but require government inter­vention in many instances. This time, mistakes will be compounded, and the strong, productive, and ef­ficient will be forced to subsidize the weak, unproductive, and inefficient. It's ironic that businesses were bankrupted in the last depression because the prices of their products fell too low; this time, it'll be because they went too high.



If a man lost his job, he had to find another one as quickly as possible simply to keep from going hungry. A lot of other men in the same position competed desperately for what work was available, and an employer could hire those same men for much lower wages and expect them to work harder than what was the case before the depression. As a result, the men could get jobs and the employer could stay in business.


The average man first has months of unemployment insurance; after that, he can go on welfare if he can't find "suitable work." Instead of taking whatever work is available, especially if it means that a white collar worker has to get his hands dirty, many will go on welfare. This will decrease the production of new wealth and delay the recovery. The worker no longer has to worry about some entrepreneur exploiting (i.e., employing) him at what he considers an unfair wage because the minimum wage laws, among others, precludes that possibility today. As a result, men stay unemployed and employers will go out of business.



If hard times really put a man down and out, he had little recourse but to rely on his family, friends, or local social and church group. There was quite a bit of opprobrium attached to that, and it was only a last resort. The breadlines set up by various government bodies were largely cosmetic measures to soothe the more terror-prone among the voting populace. People made do because they had to, and that meant radically reducing their standards of living and taking any job available at any wage. There were very, very few people on welfare during the last depression.


It's hard to say how those who are still working are going to support those who aren't in this depression. Even in the U.S., 50% of the country is already on some form of welfare. But food stamps, aid to fami­lies with dependent children, Social Security, and local programs are already collapsing in prosperous times. And when the tidal wave hits, they'll be totally overwhelmed. There aren't going to be any breadlines because people who would be standing in them are going to be shopping in local supermarkets just like people who earned their money. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of it is that people in general have come to think that these programs can just magically make wealth appear, and they expect them to be there, while a whole class of people have grown up never learning to survive without them. It's ironic, yet predictable, that the programs that were supposed to help those who "need" them will serve to devastate those very people.



Most economies have been fairly heavily regulated since the early 1900s, and those regulations caused distortions that added to the severity of the last depression. Rather than allow the economy to liquidate, in the case of the U.S., the Roosevelt regime added many, many more regulations—fixing prices, wages, and the manner of doing business in a static form. It was largely because of these regulations that the depression lingered on until the end of World War II, which "saved" the economy only through its massive reinflation of the currency. Had the government abolished most controls then in existence, instead of creating new ones, the depression would have been less severe and much shorter.


The scores of new agencies set up since the last depression have created far more severe distortions in the ways people relate than those of 80 years ago; the potential adjustment needed is proportionately greater. Unless government restrictions and controls on wages, working conditions, energy consumption, safety, and such are removed, a dramatic economic turnaround during the Greater Depression will be impossible.



The income tax was new to the U.S. in 1913, and by 1929, although it took a maximum 23.1% bite, that was only at the $1 million level. The average family’s income then was $2,335, and that put average families in the 1/10th of 1 percent bracket. And there was still no Social Security tax, no state income tax, no sales tax, and no estate tax. Furthermore, most people in the country didn't even pay the income tax because they earned less than the legal minimum or they didn't bother filing. The government, therefore, had immense untapped sources of revenue to draw upon to fund its schemes to "cure" the depression. Roosevelt was able to raise the average income tax from 1.35% to 16.56% during his tenure—an increase of 1,100%.


Everyone now pays an income tax in addition to all the other taxes. In most Western countries, the total of direct and indirect taxes is over 50%. For that reason, it seems unlikely that direct taxes will go much higher. But inflation is constantly driving everyone into higher brackets and will have the same effect. A person has had to increase his or her income faster than inflation to compensate for taxes. Whatever taxes a man does pay will reduce his standard of living by just that much, and it's reasonable to expect tax evasion and the underground economy to boom in response. That will cushion the severity of the depression somewhat while it serves to help change the philosophical orientation of society.



Prices dropped radically because billions of dollars of inflationary currency were wiped out through the stock market crash, bond defaults, and bank failures. The government, however, somehow equated the high prices of the inflationary '20s with prosperity and attempted to prevent a fall in prices by such things as slaughtering livestock, dumping milk in the gutter, and enacting price supports. Since the collapse wiped out money faster than it could be created, the government felt the destruction of real wealth was a more effective way to raise prices. In other words, if you can't increase the supply of money, decrease the supply of goods.

Nonetheless, the 1930s depression was a deflationary collapse, a time when currency became worth more and prices dropped. This is probably the most confusing thing to most Americans since they assume—as a result of that experience—that "depression" means "deflation." It's also perhaps the biggest single difference between this depression and the last one.


Prices could drop, as they did the last time, but the amount of power the government now has over the economy is far greater than what was the case 80 years ago. Instead of letting the economy cleanse itself by allowing the nancial markets to collapse, governments will probably bail out insolvent banks, create mortgages wholesale to prop up real estate, and central banks will buy bonds to keep their prices from plummeting. All of these actions mean that the total money supply will grow enormously. Trillions will be created to avoid deflation. If you find men selling apples on street corners, it won't be for 5 cents apiece, but $5 apiece. But there won't be a lot of apple sellers because of welfare, nor will there be a lot of apples because of price controls.

Consumer prices will probably skyrocket as a result, and the country will have an inflationary depression. Unlike the 1930s, when people who held dollars were king, by the end of the Greater Depression, people with dollars will be wiped out.



The world was largely rural or small-town. Communications were slow, but people tended to trust the media. The government exercised considerable moral suasion, and people tended to support it. The business of the country was business, as Calvin Coolidge said, and men who created wealth were esteemed. All told, if you were going to have a depression, it was a rather stable environment for it; despite that, however, there were still plenty of riots, marches, and general disorder.


The country is now urban and suburban, and although communications are rapid, there's little interpersonal contact. The media are suspect. The government is seen more as an adversary or an imperial ruler than an arbitrator accepted by a consensus of concerned citizens. Businessmen are viewed as unscrupulous predators who take advantage of anyone weak enough to be exploited.

A major financial smashup in today's atmosphere could do a lot more than wipe out a few naives in the stock market and unemploy some workers, as occurred in the '30s; some sectors of society are now time bombs. It's hard to say, for instance, what third- and fourth-generation welfare recipients are going to do when the going gets really tough.



Relatively slow transportation and communication localized economic conditions. The U.S. itself was somewhat insulated from the rest of the world, and parts of the U.S. were fairly self-contained. Workers were mostly involved in basic agriculture and industry, creating widgets and other tangible items. There wasn't a great deal of specialization, and that made it easier for someone to move laterally from one occupation into the next, without extensive retraining, since people were more able to produce the basics of life on their own. Most women never joined the workforce, and the wife in a marriage acted as a "backup" system should the husband lose his job.


The whole world is interdependent, and a war in the Middle East or a revolution in Africa can have a direct and immediate effect on a barber in Chicago or Krakow. Since the whole economy is centrally controlled from Washington, a mistake there can be a national disaster. People generally aren’t in a position to roll with the punches as more than half the people in the country belong to what is known as the "service economy." That means, in most cases, they're better equipped to shuffle papers than make widgets. Even "necessary" services are often terminated when times get hard. Specialization is part of what an advanced industrial economy is all about, but if the economic order changes radically, it can prove a liability.



The last depression is identified with the collapse of the stock market, which lost over 90% of its value from 1929 to 1933. A secure bond was the best possible investment as interest rates dropped radically. Commodities plummeted, reducing millions of farmers to near subsistence levels. Since most real estate was owned outright and taxes were low, a drop in price didn't make a lot of difference unless you had to sell. Land prices plummeted, but since people bought it to use, not unload to a greater fool, they didn't usually have to sell.


This time, stocks—and especially commodities—are likely to explode on the upside as people panic into them to get out of depreciating dollars in general and bonds in particular. Real estate will be—next to bonds—the most devastated single area of the economy because no one will lend money long term. And real estate is built on the mortgage market, which will vanish.

Everybody who invests in this depression thinking that it will turn out like the last one will be very unhappy with the results. Being aware of the differences between the last depression and this one makes it a lot easier to position yourself to minimize losses and maximize profits.

*  *  *

So much for the differences. The crucial, obvious, and most important similarity, however, is that most people's standard of living will fall dramatically.

The Greater Depression has started. Most people don't know it because they can neither confront the thought nor understand the differences between this one and the last.

As a climax approaches, many of the things that you've built your life around in the past are going to change and change radically. The ability to adjust to new conditions is the sign of a psychologically healthy person.

Look for the opportunity side of the crisis. The Chinese symbol for "crisis" is a combination of two other symbols - one for danger and one for opportunity.

The dangers that society will face in the years ahead are regrettable, but there's no point in allowing anxiety, frustration, or apathy to overcome you. Face the future with courage, curiosity, and optimism rather than fear. You can be a winner, and if you plan carefully, you will be. The great period of change will give you a chance to regain control of your destiny. And that in itself is the single most important thing in life. This depression can give you that opportunity; it's one of the many ways the Greater Depression can be a very good thing for both you as an individual and society as a whole.

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stant's picture

Thanks for the heads up

Casanova's picture
Casanova (not verified) stant Apr 8, 2016 7:14 PM

Folks, America WILL NEVER EVER get better. This is why >>> http://wp.me/p4OZ4v-3z

Hernando98's picture

The economy has been getting worse everyday for the last 10 years!




NidStyles's picture

Trump 2016!!


Because why in the fuck not? The rest of the tards aren't going do any better.

PT's picture

Re "1930s If a man lost his job, he had to find another one as quickly as possible simply to keep from going hungry. A lot of other men in the same position competed desperately for what work was available, and an employer could hire those same men for much lower wages and expect them to work harder than what was the case before the depression. As a result, the men could get jobs and the employer could stay in business" :

Yeah, here are all them men working their guts out for fuck all money so business could thrive:


And here's all them working men who worked for less money and then they could afford to buy ... ?????? They've worked but they've got LESS MONEY. Oh, prices went down to meet them? And / Or debt magically vanished? Here they are:


erkme73's picture

What's up with all the ?ucking question marks?  Doe?n't anyone proo? read these things/

NoDebt's picture

"It's ironic, yet predictable, that the programs that were supposed to help those who "need" them will serve to devastate those very people."

Ironic?  No.  It's the definition of socialism.

KesselRunin12Parsecs's picture
KesselRunin12Parsecs (not verified) NoDebt Apr 8, 2016 9:04 PM

One thing's for fucking certain... Jews will do fine & Las Vegas Dave will come on here to gloat about how smart & wonderful people like George Soros are while LVD himself is taking a break from cleaning Sheldon Adelson & Steve Weinbergs pools & generally ruminating about important things like how "Nobody likes poor people"...

TeamDepends's picture

EBT = The People's (virtual) Soup Kitchen

RafterManFMJ's picture

Here's part of the solution.

Everyone gets a homestead exemption for a modest 1500 sq. foot house a 5 acre parcel. More than that tax away for any acreage above the limit or sq. footage above the limit.

Sell the millions of acres of "federal" land in 5 acre parcels. You can feed you and yours on 5 acres. Frankly you can do it on .5 acres.

Permit people to live and thrive w/o paying usury and rent to the bankers and the .gov and the banks....

Ain't gonna happen, I know, but maybe after enough bankers hang?

KesselRunin12Parsecs's picture
KesselRunin12Parsecs (not verified) RafterManFMJ Apr 8, 2016 9:53 PM

Here's a solution...


Build tent cities in the parking lots surrounding Wal Mart so that the FSA wouldn't have to go far to use their EBT cards... Leave the rest of the country to me... If something bad ever happens, send Snake Plissken in there...

TahoeBilly2012's picture

Here's the beef MoFo's

If the Fed Bank and "edukated economics" can smooth over this current collapse, then they could have smoothed over EVERY collapse!

So there you have it, it's all a fucking lie! The Beast made money on every up and down, and now it can keep things UP as long as it likes, cause you know, it was always out for  your best interest.

What a fucking scam!


Four chan's picture

if i were to have a pocket full of gold or even silver at any time in history i wouldn't be glum. THE FACT

zeronetwork's picture

It will be a bloody depression because current generation has not seen hunger.

jeff montanye's picture

"The last depression is identified with the collapse of the stock market, which lost over 90% of its value from 1929 to 1933. A secure bond was the best possible investment as interest rates dropped radically."

imo this overstates the real, inflation/deflation adjusted loss to the stock market because of the deflation.

more importantly interest rates on bonds did not decline significantly in this period, indeed high grade municipals' yields rose.  aaa corporate bonds' yields show as moving from about 4.75 in the fall of '29 to perhaps 4.50 in the summer of '33 but only after trading in the 5's the previous year.


overnight money collapsed in yield but that is not an asset one can make money on because of its ultra short duration.

the asset to have held in this period was gold mining shares.  in this period homestake mining increased five times:


for some reason the source material links don't work so i show the google searches.  choose the first address listed.



Oh regional Indian's picture

The plan bringing us to this point has been long and strong and nothing short of brilliant....

Set your mind in esoteric mode (becuse that is where all these moves come from) and take a reaad of this and blow your minds....

Extremely apropos.....How global liquidity was forever damned...


KesselRunin12Parsecs's picture
KesselRunin12Parsecs (not verified) Oh regional Indian Apr 9, 2016 7:24 AM

You sure it wasn't the DAMn Yankees? Are you MAD?

Terminus C's picture

Nice read ORI,

Have you read about the electric universe theory?  I think you'd like reading David Talbott's (the Saturn Myth) and Dwardu Cardona's (God Star) series.  Taken me down a very interesting rabbit hole regarding our own place in the universe.

For electric universe check out www.thunderbolts.info

Surviver22's picture
Surviver22 (not verified) Terminus C Apr 9, 2016 12:55 PM

Trump Got It Right Again. This Is the Undeniable Proof...



Oh regional Indian's picture

Thanks TC. Yes, I've been following Electric Universe and Talbot and co for a while now.

Max pleasure was the total de-bunking einstein got at their hands (one of their conferences, rational physics). Have you heard of Stephen Crothers? Highly recommended:


Terminus C's picture

That is an interesting video.  A little above my mathematical paygrade but, in general, it makes sense.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Hah, mine too...but similarly, it just made sense (I last did a calcucus calculation in 1989...so...yeah! 

logicalman's picture

The biggest free-shitters sit at the top of the pile.

It seems most don't realize it.

Build tent cities on the fancy lawns of the rich fucks would be a more appropriate response.


fleur de lis's picture

The depression of 1929 -1933 was engineered by the usual suspects--the same ones who had just engineered widespread European carnage on a scale worse than anything in history.

As soon as the smoke cleared they went to work like termites planning the next big bloodfest to demolish what they overlooked the first time.

Then they went to work on all survivors by infesting worldwide financial systems to collapse. NWO concubine Hoover got the blame but the joke was on us -- he was one of them all along and laughed all the way to the bank afterwards.

The NWO American concubine FDR obeyed his masters and confiscated gold from Americans, and swiftly punished those who dared disobey.

From 1914 - 1933 they engineered a World War, a Bolshevik Revolution, the collapse of 4 huge Empires, consolidation of financial systems, and the mass murder of millions. Then they propped up a concubine who would seize gold from Americans and prepare the military for the next worldwide bloodfest. All under 20 years.

They were all in on it then and still are today.

LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD's picture
LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD (not verified) RafterManFMJ Apr 8, 2016 10:08 PM

"You can feed you and yours on 5 acres. Frankly you can do it on .5 acres."

Please provide links...

Oldwood's picture

Bitch about the loss of freedoms yet the first thing out of your head is the destruction of property rights. Are you going to put limits on income too? How about the size of soft drinks and who must buy health insurance....for the "common good"? When you become KING, you can dictate what YOU think is fair...until then, fuck off.

logicalman's picture

You believe you have property rights?

Look around a bit, you will find you have few, if any.

Government gives back just enough to prevent all out mutiny and no more.


decon's picture

The great majority of (federal) public land requires hundreds of acres to support just a cow.  That's why it wasn't homesteaded in the first place.  Your notions about self sufficiency are quaint but not based in reality.  I support a large family on 5 acres and it's in a subtropical area with a year-round growing season, plentiful gravity fed irrigation and it's all in production and I barely am able to.

The public lands in an unfragmented condition are critical for large wide-ranging animals like elk, deer and antelope.   Back to the drawing board FMJ.

Escrava Isaura's picture



Exactly. Year around self sufficiency  can’t be achieved in most of the US and definitely not Canada.



crazzziecanuck's picture

Tell that to all those who lived in the USA and Canada for the last three hundred years.

Yes, you can easily feed people on five acres, even in Canada.  However, you will no longer be able to buy fresh strawberries in January or have coffee anytime you feel like it.  You will have to pickle and preserve items and radically change the diet.  The result (some wil argue requirement) in huge drop in the standard of living.  Since such a drop is unwelcome (but imposed upon) for those at the bottom, it's unacceptable for those parasites (aka 'capitalists') at the top who live by skimming off the work of others. 

Tarzan's picture

100s of thousands would starve before they ever learn to survive like our forefathers. 

Staking out a plot of land in the wilderness and living off it is not for the weak minded dependents who would hurl at the sight of skinning an animal, let alone grow a sustainable crop to feed their family.

Yet, after chaos, a good portion would thrive, If Tyrants fell, if the chains were ever lifted!

Government needs you to pay taxes's picture

We'd get rid of a LOT of free shitters in that survival-of-the-fittest period.  There are no EBT card readers to swipe out in the wilderness  (or bananas/coconuts to pick).

vollderlerby's picture

You nailed it. Natural selection is as important to our species as free markets are to our economy.  Both mechanisms have been disabled and so we're skitting into the 90 degree turn up ahead at 300 miles an hour.

unrulian's picture

you have no idea what you're talking about. we're two generations from when many lived in Canada off very small homsteads. On the east coast our winters are warmer than anywhere in the midwest US and on the ocean it's even easier. It's called a root cellar  

cnsteph's picture

This is incorrect.  There is a guy in Colorado growing tropical fruit and vegetables in his greenhouse.  Mangos, bananas, limes, lemons, etc.   You just have to know how and how to set it up.  


Check out the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute


tmosley's picture

We have more advanced technology now. Indoor, robotic farms are the future. No need for pesticides. Everything harvested at the right time. Etc.


Many more to come soon.

Tech like this is available to individuals as well, and will be more so in the future.

Takaway is--you would be surprised at what you can do with modern technology.

Ignorance is bliss's picture

Hate to tell you this, but there is not a lot of nutrition in hydroponics. A lot of plants need 5-7 key minerals and they look great. A human needs 50 minerals that we are aware of to be healthy. Look around at your average American. Nutrition is a real problem even outside of a deep depression.

tmosley's picture

Your name is the opposite of the truth. Your ignorance has you afraid of your own shadow.

Fear the future, because Alex Jones told you to.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Looks like Luddites don't approve of your message.

OverTheHedge's picture

>>Everyone gets a homestead exemption for a modest 1500 sq. foot house a 5 acre parcel.

1500 square feet is pretty damn big for a "modest" house; try heating that when all you have are hand-tools.

There is a reason why pre-industrial houses were smaller (or communal living for several families).

Another question: if the entire population are to become gardeners, where does the seed-stock come from? We're all doomed!

Finally, without fertilizer, (and LOTS of it), nothing will grow. I have proved this conclusively over the last 10 years or so; and finally rescinded organic status, so I can actually have some product to sell. It is hard, verging on impossible, to get enough organic material into your system to be productive, which is exactly why we have fossil-fuel based farming. If this stops for any reason, wave goodbye to most of the world's population in short order.

Other than that, by all means get everyone back on to the land. The US has something like 250 square kilometres per person to share out. The UK has about 250 people per square kilometre, so YMMV

zhandax's picture

I am calling bullshit and it sounds like you are lazy.  I suppose you never have any corn shucks to throw away.  Your lawn never needs cutting.  You have no leaves that fall at the end of season.  You never have any steak fat that you cut off, shrimp shells that you peel, or turkey  innerds that you don't use for giblet gravy?  All that is compost.  You know anyone who raises horses?  Ever ask them what they do when they clean out the barn?  That is all pure organic fertilizer, and the best available. 

Even a lazy fuck can determine that Milorganite is nothing more than processed, dried shit.  I only use it on the grass and not the garden because of suspected pharmacologicals, but it is organic fertilizer.

As far a seed stock;  I hate Montsanto more than most, but they admittedly have not messed with most of the garden vegetables.  I was buying seed about a month ago and the bell pepper seeds cost more than than the cost of whole peppers on sale from Kroger.  I just bought the peppers, and germinated the seed.  They are growing fine as we speak.  These are the California Wonders that have been around for 80 years.  The same for dried Guajillo chilies I bought at a local market.  I have Thai Dragon and Bhut Jolokia seeds which I grew two years ago and saved which I germinated and are growing today. 

Since you have led us to believe you are in the UK, there are probably enough spoiled fish from markets to fertilize every allotment in the UK twice over.  Just bury them a foot down before you plant.

OverTheHedge's picture

Not lazy, just working to a slightly larger scale than household waste can cater for. I need many tons of manure (which we buy from neighbours, but it still isn't enough), but if we are talking about true self-sufficiency, then it becomes truly difficult. For most of the middle-ages, corn yields were less than double the planted amount; ie plant one ton of seed, harvest a bit more than one ton, but put the one ton (plus extra for rats & spoilage) in the barn for next year. You get to eat the surplus. They call it subsistence farming for a reason.

Oh, one comment WAS bullshit: the US has one square kilometre per person, not the 250 I suggested (brain-fart, sorry)- make the most of it

cnsteph's picture

You should look into something called permaculture.  It teaches you how to "grow" good soil so you don't need fertalizers, pesticides, or additivies.  It teaches you how to work with what you have and to be more productive.  There are people growing enough for two families on .3 acres of land.  http://resiliencehub.org/2012/07/31/eat-the-suburbs-a-13-acre-permacultu...   Just because YOU don't know how to survive doesn't mean others don't.  Maybe you should do a little more research and less complaining. 

Sanctuary2's picture

good idea bud, but we have to many bombs, tanks, choppers and useless jet fighters to build-as well a the payola to keep governments "on our side"

nscholten's picture

Dude..The NWO is in the process of accumilating more land, not selling or giving to the US citizens.

We all know the solutions.  The fact of tha matter is the elite will tatke and take until they are stopped.