US Economy Booms, But What about Britain?

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Graph: The Dow Jones Index is quickly rising, but will it all come crashing down?

September 3  1929

Today it is expected that the New York stock market will reach an all-time high, with stock prices expected to keep rising.

Wall Street is proving easy money for willing investors, who take out large loans to buy shares in successful companies which quickly gain value. The shares are sold and the loan is payed back with interest and investors keep the hefty profit. This process, named ‘Buying On The Margin’ seems fool proof, given the constant economic growth in the US.

A US journalist, John Jaskob, who has heavily invested in the stock market, claims that by investing fifteen dollars a month in stocks and shares it would be possible to make $80,000 over the next twenty years – a claim that is yet to be proven false.

But where is Great Britain’s share in these riches? Simply put, the US financially benefited from the Great War with several countries paying back loans and buying materials from US factories to rebuild their own. Great Britain is still recovering from war damage and with Germany defaulting on their debt, it seems that our situation is far from that in America. However, because of the world’s interconnected financial systems, there is a possibility that Britain could slightly benefit from the American boom.

But while we look on in envy at the effortless riches being made elsewhere, it is possible that the current US economic boom is too good to be true, but only time will tell.

Source:  http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAwallstreet.htm

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/wall_street_crash.htm

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MacDonald is Back after Narrow Labour Victory

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Photograph: A joyous James Ramsay MacDonald waves to the crowd

June 5, 1929

After winning the most seats, but not the most votes, Britain’s original Labour Prime Minister is back at number ten Downing Street, this time, leading a minority government.

In the first British general election where women under thirty could vote, the somewhat controversial Scottish born leader was re-elected, after his first term in 1924, which abruptly ended as a consequence of the Zinoviev letter, which  falsely destroyed MacDonald’s anti-communist position .

James Ramsay MacDonald is the first British Prime Minister to come from working class up-bringing, leading unions to hope that he has the workers of Great Britain in mind. He first joined The Independent Labour Party in 1893, but lost his seat in 1918, after his public criticism for Britain’s involvement in The Great War, famously stating that “We hear war called murder, It is not; it is suicide.”

In a historic turn of events, Mac Donald will appoint Ms Margaret Benfield as a minister, making her the first female to be assigned such a position.

With our country’s slow recovery from the war, we can only hope that MacDonald’s leadership will send Britain into a new decade filled with prosperity.

sources: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PRmacdonald.htm
https://www.gov.uk/government/history/past-prime-ministers/james-ramsay-macdonald

This Decade’s ‘New Woman’

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Photograph: A group of youthful aristocrats show off their controversial style in London.

November 11, 1928

Ten years after the end of The Great War, Britain in overcoming its war time blues with a new group of youthful trendsetters emerging.

Bright Young Things, as they have been called, are the sons and daughters of London’s richest. Many of them have a flair for fashion, with short skirts, fur, silk and jewels being their preferred styles and are known to drink heavily at their fancy dress parties.

The newfound female confidence has stemmed from the woman’s involvement in the war, and their growing importance in society. Next year’s election will see women under thirty voting for the first time in a general election, and women are still prominent in the work force. This decade has already seen the rise of the ‘Flapper’ a young girl who is willing to take risks and is known to smoke cigarettes.

These new-age women are adopting a much different dress code to that of the past. A short cut hairstyle named a ‘bob’ has replaced the fashion of long hair and the dress is worn loose, tightening at the hips to allow movement.

This new group of flamboyant youngsters is a sign that the sadness of war has been long forgotten, and Britain has truly moved into a new era. And if the war has taught the ‘Bright Young Things anything, it’s that life is short.

Sources: http://history1900s.about.com/od/1920s/a/flappers_2.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bright_young_things

 

Trade Union Congress Calls General Strike For Two Million Men To Support Miners

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photograph: Angry miners and union members in protest

May 4 1926

Disgruntled miners in North England took a stand yesterday morning on enforced pay cuts- the latest in a string of pay disputes that started during the Great War. The dispute escalated into Great Britain’s first ever general strike after printers at our rival newspaper The Daily Mirror refused to print articles that criticised trade unions.

Since then, railwaymen, Dockers and power-station workers have stopped work to strike with the hope of attracting the government’s attention to the cause of the miners. One marching train driver told The Sun he was striking because ‘miners deserve better’.

It has been suggested that The British Communist Party played a major role in organizing the marches, and communists were a prominent group among the thousands that were arrested.

The strike is a reminder that Great Britain is economically lagging behind our competitors, such as the US, with increased unemployment and predicted negative economic growth this fiscal year. We can only hope that the economic boom of other countries will positively affect Great Britain.

At present, London’s transport and electricity networks are being staffed by volunteers with the help of the military. Hyde Park has been turned into a food and milk depot for the volunteers keeping our city alive. It is expected that the strike will last until the government agrees to the demands of those striking. Until then, authorities are suggesting to use less electricity to reduce the strain on volunteers.

Sources:

20th Century London.” General Strike 1926. Exploring 20th Century London, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.
UK Economy in the 1920s.” Economics Blog. Economics Help, 16 Oct. 2012. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/history/mwh/britain/generalstrikerev1.shtml

http://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/sections/britain/history.htm

Germany and Allies Sign Dawes Plan

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Photograph: Charles G. Dawes and Owen D. Young in Berlin, prior to the release of the Dawes Plan.

April 1924

A new plan, formulated by American banker Charles G. Dawes will shortly be put into action. The plan, named the Dawes plan after its creator, will financially connect all of the world’s major powers.

Since Germany’s failure to pay its reparations and its hyperinflation crisis, the Allied Reparations Commission has been searching for a way to ensure its payment and it seems the Dawes plan may be the answer to their prayers.

The plan is centralized around the United States, and involves The Allies repaying war debt to the US, The US loaning money to Germany, and then Germany successfully paying its reparations to the Allies as agreed to in The Treaty of Versailles.

The plan also takes into consideration The Gold Standard, which is a group of countries who have committed to basing the value of the currencies on a specified amount of gold in an attempt to prevent the overvaluation of their respective domestic currencies.

As expected, the German government is unimpressed with the plan, as it does not reduce the amount that needs to be paid, and takes partial control of their economic system. However, it is expected that the plan will lead to decreased unemployment in the US and a guarantee that German reparations of 132 million Gold Marks will be paid for the next five years.

Sources:  http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERdawes.htm

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/dawes_plan_1924.htm

http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/GoldStandard.html