Edited by Gerald Boerner
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Copyright©2010 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved
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Quotations Related to HERBERT HOOVER
“Blessed are the young for they shall inherit the national debt.”
— Herbert Hoover
“Children are our most valuable natural resource.”
— Herbert Hoover
“About the time we can make the ends meet, somebody moves the ends.”
— Herbert Hoover
“America – a great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far-reaching in purpose.”
— Herbert Hoover
“Competition is not only the basis of protection to the consumer, but is the incentive to progress.”
— Herbert Hoover
“Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity.”
— Herbert Hoover
“Economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement. Economic wounds must be healed by the action of the cells of the economic body – the producers and consumers themselves.”
— Herbert Hoover
“It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own.”
— Herbert Hoover
“Black Tuesday” and the Great Depression — Economics of Herbert Hoover
The Wall Street Crash of 1929 (October 1929), also known as the Great Crash, and the Stock Market Crash of 1929, was the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States, taking into consideration the full extent and duration of its fallout. The crash began a 12-year economic slump that affected all the Western industrialized countries and that did not end in the United States until the onset of WWII at the end of 1941.
“Anyone who bought stocks in mid-1929 and held onto them saw most of his or her adult life pass by before getting back to even.”
The Roaring Twenties, the decade that led up to the Crash, was a time of wealth and excess. Despite caution of the dangers of speculation, many believed that the market could sustain high price levels. Shortly before the crash, economist Irving Fisher famously proclaimed, "Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." However, the optimism and financial gains of the great bull market were shattered on "Black Tuesday", October 29, 1929, when share prices on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) collapsed. Stock prices plummeted on that day, and continued to fall at an unprecedented rate for a full month.
The October 1929 crash came during a period of declining real estate values in the United States (which peaked in 1925) near the beginning of a chain of events that led to the Great Depression, a period of economic decline in the industrialized nations.
In the days leading up to "Black Thursday" (called "Black Friday" in Europe due to the time difference) and "Black Tuesday" the following week, the market was severely unstable. Periods of selling and high volumes of trading were interspersed with brief periods of rising prices and recovery. Economist and author Jude Wanniski later correlated these swings with the prospects for passage of the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act, which was then being debated in Congress. After the crash, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) partially recovered in November–December 1929 and early 1930, only to reverse and crash again, reaching a low point of the great bear market in 1932. On July 8, 1932, the Dow reached its lowest level of the 20th century and did not return to pre-1929 levels until November 1954.
After a six-year run when the world saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average increase in value fivefold, prices peaked at 381.17 on September 3, 1929. The market then fell sharply for a month, losing 17% of its value on the initial leg down.
Prices then recovered more than half of the losses over the next week, only to turn back down immediately afterward. The decline then accelerated into the so-called "Black Thursday", October 24, 1929. A then-record number of 12.9 million shares were traded on that day.
At 1 p.m. on the same day (October 24), several leading Wall Street bankers met to find a solution to the panic and chaos on the trading floor. The meeting included Thomas W. Lamont, acting head of Morgan Bank; Albert Wiggin, head of the Chase National Bank; and Charles E. Mitchell, president of the National City Bank of New York. They chose Richard Whitney, vice president of the Exchange, to act on their behalf. With the bankers’ financial resources behind him, Whitney placed a bid to purchase a large block of shares in U.S. Steel at a price well above the current market. As traders watched, Whitney then placed similar bids on other "blue chip" stocks. This tactic was similar to a tactic that ended the Panic of 1907, and succeeded in halting the slide that day. In this case, however, the respite was only temporary.
Over the weekend, the events were covered by the newspapers across the United States. On Monday, October 28, the first "Black Monday", more investors decided to get out of the market, and the slide continued with a record loss in the Dow for the day of 13%. The next day, "Black Tuesday", October 29, 1929, about 16 million shares were traded. The volume on stocks traded on October 29, 1929 was "…a record that was not broken for nearly 40 years, in 1968". Author Richard M. Salsman wrote that "on October 29—amid rumors that U.S. President Herbert Hoover would not veto the pending Hawley-Smoot Tariff bill—stock prices crashed even further". William C. Durant joined with members of the Rockefeller family and other financial giants to buy large quantities of stocks in order to demonstrate to the public their confidence in the market, but their efforts failed to stop the slide. The DJIA lost another 12% that day. The ticker did not stop running until about 7:45 that evening. The market lost $14 billion in value that day, bringing the loss for the week to $30 billion.
An interim bottom occurred on November 13 with the Dow closing at 198.60 that day. The market recovered for several months from that point, with the Dow reaching a secondary closing peak (i.e., bear market rally) of 294.07 on April 17, 1930. The market embarked on a steady slide in April 1931 that did not end until 1932 when the Dow closed at 41.22 on July 8, concluding a shattering 89% decline from the peak. This was the lowest the stock market had been since the 19th century.
The crash followed a speculative boom that had taken hold in the late 1920s, which had led hundreds of thousands of Americans to invest heavily in the stock market. A significant number of them were borrowing money to buy more stocks. By August 1929, brokers were routinely lending small investors more than two thirds of the face value of the stocks they were buying. Over $8.5 billion was out on loan, more than the entire amount of currency circulating in the U.S. at the time. The rising share prices encouraged more people to invest; people hoped the share prices would rise further. Speculation thus fueled further rises and created an economic bubble. The average P/E (price to earnings) ratio of S&P Composite stocks was 32.6 in September 1929, clearly above historical norms. Most economists view this event as the most dramatic in modern economic history. On October 24, 1929, with the Dow just past its September 3 peak of 381.17, the market finally turned down, and panic selling started.
In 1932, the Pecora Commission was established by the U.S. Senate to study the causes of the crash. The U.S. Congress passed the Glass-Steagall Act in 1933, which mandated a separation between commercial banks, which take deposits and extend loans, and investment banks, which underwrite, issue, and distribute stocks, bonds, and other securities.
After the experience of the 1929 crash, stock markets around the world instituted measures to suspend temporarily trading in the event of rapid declines, claiming that the measures would prevent such panic sales. Even more severe than the crash of 1929, however, was the one-day crash of Black Monday, October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 22.6%.
Effects and Academic Debate
Together, the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression formed "…the biggest financial crisis of the 20th century." "The panic of October 1929 has come to serve as a symbol of the economic contraction that gripped the world during the next decade." "The crash of 1929 caused ‘fear mixed with a vertiginous disorientation’, but ‘shock was quickly cauterized with denial, both official and mass-delusional’." "The falls in share prices on October 24 and 29, 1929 … were practically instantaneous in all financial markets, except Japan." The Wall Street Crash had a major impact on the U.S. and world economy, and it has been the source of intense academic debate—historical, economic and political—from its aftermath until the present day. "Some people believed that abuses by utility holding companies contributed to the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Depression that followed." "Many people blamed the crash on commercial banks that were too eager to put deposits at risk on the stock market."
"The 1929 crash brought the Roaring Twenties shuddering to a halt." As "tentatively expressed" by "economic historian Charles Kindleberger", in 1929 there was no "…lender of last resort effectively present", which, if it had existed and were "properly exercised", would have been "key in shortening the business slowdown[s] that normally follows financial crises." The crash marked the beginning of widespread and long-lasting consequences for the United States. The main question is: Did the "’29 Crash spark The Depression?", or did it merely coincide with the bursting of a credit-inspired economic bubble? Only 16% of American households were invested in the stock market within the United States during the period leading up to the depression, suggesting that the crash carried somewhat less of a weight in causing the depression.
However, the psychological effects of the crash reverberated across the nation as business became aware of the difficulties in securing capital markets investments for new projects and expansions. Business uncertainty naturally affects job security for employees, and as the American worker (the consumer) faced uncertainty with regards to income, naturally the propensity to consume declined. The decline in stock prices caused bankruptcies and severe macroeconomic difficulties including contraction of credit, business closures, firing of workers, bank failures, decline of the money supply, and other economic depressing events. The resultant rise of mass unemployment is seen as a result of the crash, although the crash is by no means the sole event that contributed to the depression. The Wall Street Crash is usually seen as having the greatest impact on the events that followed and therefore is widely regarded as signaling the downward economic slide that initiated the Great Depression.
True or not, the consequences were dire for almost everybody. "Most academic experts agree on one aspect of the crash: It wiped out billions of dollars of wealth in one day, and this immediately depressed consumer buying." The failure set off a worldwide run on US gold deposits (i.e., the dollar), and forced the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates into the slump. Some 4,000 banks and other lenders ultimately failed. Also, the uptick rule, which "…allowed short selling only when the last tick in a stock’s price was positive," "…was implemented after the 1929 market crash to prevent short sellers from driving the price of a stock down in a bear run."
Economists and historians disagree as to what role the crash played in subsequent economic, social, and political events. The Economist argued in a 1998 article, "Briefly, the Depression did not start with the stockmarket crash." Nor was it clear at the time of the crash that a depression was starting. On November 23, 1929, The Economist asked: "Can a very serious Stock Exchange collapse produce a serious setback to industry when industrial production is for the most part in a healthy and balanced condition? … Experts are agreed that there must be some setback, but there is not yet sufficient evidence to prove that it will be long or that it need go to the length of producing a general industrial depression." But The Economist cautioned: "Some bank failures, no doubt, are also to be expected. In the circumstances will the banks have any margin left for financing commercial and industrial enterprises or will they not? The position of the banks is without doubt the key to the situation, and what this is going to be cannot be properly assessed until the dust has cleared away."
Many academics see the Wall Street Crash of 1929 as part of a historical process that was a part of the new theories of boom and bust. According to economists such as Joseph Schumpeter and Nikolai Kondratieff the crash was merely a historical event in the continuing process known as economic cycles. The impact of the crash was merely to increase the speed at which the cycle proceeded to its next level.
Milton Friedman’s A Monetary History of the United States, co-written with Anna Schwartz, makes the argument that what made the "great contraction" so severe was not the downturn in the business cycle, trade protectionism, or the 1929 stock market crash. But instead what plunged the country into a deep depression, was the collapse of the banking system during three waves of panics over the 1930-33 period.
Herbert Hoover & the Great Depression
Herbert Clark Hoover (1874 – 1964) was the 31st President of the United States (1929–1933). Hoover was a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted government intervention under the rubric "economic modernization". In the presidential election of 1928, Hoover easily won the Republican nomination, despite having no previous elected office experience. To date, Hoover is the last cabinet secretary to be directly elected President of the United States, as well as one of only two Presidents (along with William Howard Taft) to have been elected President without electoral experience or high military rank. The nation was prosperous and optimistic at the time, leading to a landslide victory for Hoover over Democrat Al Smith.
Hoover, a trained engineer, deeply believed in the Efficiency Movement, which held that government and the economy were riddled with inefficiency and waste, and could be improved by experts who could identify the problems and solve them. When the Wall Street Crash of 1929 struck less than eight months after he took office, Hoover tried to combat the ensuing Great Depression with volunteer efforts, none of which produced economic recovery during his term. The consensus among historians is that Hoover’s defeat in the 1932 election was caused primarily by failure to end the downward economic spiral. As a result of these factors, Hoover is ranked poorly among former US Presidents.
Hoover’s stance on the economy was based largely on voluntarism. From before his entry to the presidency, he was a proponent of the concept that public-private cooperation was the way to achieve high long-term growth. Hoover feared that too much intervention or coercion by the government would destroy individuality and self-reliance, which he considered to be important American values. Both his ideals and the economy were put to the test with the onset of the Great Depression. At the outset of the Depression, Hoover claims in his memoirs that he rejected Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon’s suggested "leave-it-alone" approach, and called many business leaders to Washington to urge them not to lay off workers or cut wages. Lee Ohanian from UCLA has argued that President Hoover adopted pro-labor policies after the 1929 stock market crash that "accounted for close to two-thirds of the drop in the nation’s gross domestic product over the two years that followed, causing what might otherwise have been a bad recession to slip into the Great Depression.". This argument is at odds with the mainstream view of the causes of the great depression, and is strongly contested by both Keynesians and monetarists, for example Prof. Brad DeLong of U.C. Berkeley.
Calls for greater government assistance increased as the US economy continued to decline. Hoover rejected direct federal relief payments to individuals, as he believed that a dole would be addictive, and reduce the incentive to work. He was also a firm believer in balanced budgets, and was unwilling to run a budget deficit to fund welfare programs. However, Hoover did pursue many policies in an attempt to pull the country out of depression. In 1929, Hoover authorized the Mexican Repatriation program to combat rampant unemployment, the burden on municipal aid services, and remove people seen as usurpers of American jobs. The program was largely a forced migration of approximately 500,000 Mexicans and Mexican Americans to Mexico, and continued through to 1937. In June 1930, over the objection of many economists, Congress approved and Hoover signed into law the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. The legislation raised tariffs on thousands of imported items. The intent of the Act was to encourage the purchase of American-made products by increasing the cost of imported goods, while raising revenue for the federal government and protecting farmers. However, economic depression now spread through much of the world, and other nations increased tariffs on American-made goods in retaliation, reducing international trade, and worsening the Depression.
In 1931, Hoover issued the Hoover Moratorium, calling for a one-year halt in reparation payments by Germany to France and in the payment of Allied war debts to the United States. The plan was met with much opposition, especially from France, who saw significant losses to Germany during World War I. The Moratorium did little to ease economic declines. As the moratorium neared its expiration the following year, an attempt to find a permanent solution was made at the Lausanne Conference of 1932. A working compromise was never established, and by the start of World War II, reparations payments had stopped completely. Hoover in 1931 urged the major banks in the country to form a consortium known as the National Credit Corporation (NCC). The NCC was an example of Hoover’s belief in volunteerism as a mechanism in aiding the economy. Hoover encouraged NCC member banks to provide loans to smaller banks to prevent them from collapsing. The banks within the NCC were often reluctant to provide loans, usually requiring banks to provide their largest assets as collateral. It quickly became apparent that the NCC would be incapable of fixing the problems it was designed to solve, and it was replaced by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.
By 1932, the Great Depression had spread across the globe. In the U.S., unemployment had reached 24.9%, a drought persisted in the agricultural heartland, businesses and families defaulted on record numbers of loans, and more than 5,000 banks had failed. Tens-of-thousands of Americans who found themselves homeless and began congregating in the numerous Hoovervilles (also known as shanty towns or tent cities) that had begun to appear across the country. The name ‘Hooverville’ was coined by their residents as a sign of their disappointment and frustration with the perceived lack of assistance from the federal government. In response, Hoover and the Congress approved the Federal Home Loan Bank Act, to spur new home construction, and reduce foreclosures. The plan seemed to work, as foreclosures dropped, but it was seen as too little, too late.
Prior to the start of the Great Depression, Hoover’s first Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon, proposed and saw enacted, numerous tax cuts, which cut the top income tax rate from 73% to 24% (under Presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge). When combined with the sharp decline in incomes during the early depression, the result was a serious deficit in the federal budget. Congress, desperate to increase federal revenue, enacted the Revenue Act of 1932, which was the largest peacetime tax increase in history. The Act increased taxes across the board, so that top earners were taxed at 63% on their net income. The 1932 Act also increased the tax on the net income of corporations from 12% to 13.75%.
The final attempt of the Hoover Administration to rescue the economy occurred in 1932 with the passage of the Emergency Relief and Construction Act, which authorized funds for public works programs and the creation of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC). The RFC’s initial goal was to provide government-secured loans to financial institutions, railroads and farmers. The RFC had minimal impact at the time, but was adopted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and greatly expanded as part of his New Deal.
Please take time to further explore “BLACK TUESDAY”, the GREAT
DEPRESSION, and HERBERT HOOVER by accessing the Wikipedia
articles referenced below…
Other Events on this Day:
The Otter of Boston, the first ship from the Atlantic coast to anchor in a California port, arrives at Monterey.
The first store opens in the frontier town of Denver, selling goods to gold minors.
"Black Tuesday" hits the New York Stock Exchange; stock prices collapse and thousands of investors lose their savings, helping to ignite the decade-long Great Depression.
In France, the 100th/442nd fights to rescue the “Lost Battalion.”
At the age of 77, Sen. John Glenn, who became the first American to orbit Earth in 1962, returns to space as a payload specialist aboard the space shuttle Discovery. To date, Glenn is the oldest person to travel in space.
Al Jazeera broadcasts excerpts from a videotape in which Osama bin Laden admits for the first time that he is responsible for ordering the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Dates and events based on:
William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)
Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:
Wikipedia: Wall Street Crash of 1929…
Wikipedia: Herbert Hoover…
Wikipedia: Great Depression in the United States…
Brainy Quote: HERBERT HOOVER Quotes…