Muchos historiadores señalan la caída de la bolsa de valores de 1929 como la causa de la Gran Depresión.

La Gran Depresión fue la peor crisis económica en la historia de los Estados Unidos y provocó uno de los peores estados económicos de la historia moderna del mundo. No existe una lista acordada de las causas de la Gran Depresión , en parte porque simplemente hubo muchas causas diferentes. También existía, y sigue existiendo, el deseo de muchos grupos de culpar a otros grupos, y tantas causas posibles son fuertemente impugnadas. Incluso con eso, sin embargo, es posible encontrar una serie de razones importantes en las que al menos la mayoría de la gente puede estar de acuerdo.

Los trabajos eran extremadamente escasos durante la Gran Depresión.

A lo largo de la década de 1920, Estados Unidos prosperó enormemente. Se creó una riqueza inmensa, pero esa riqueza se distribuyó de manera extremadamente desigual en toda la sociedad, tanto en términos de disparidad de clases como entre varios sectores, como los trabajadores agrícolas y los trabajadores industriales. Aunque mucha gente detesta admitirlo, es muy probable que una de las principales causas de la Gran Depresión haya sido esta disparidad en la riqueza. Para 1929, aproximadamente el 0,1% de los estadounidenses más ricos poseían casi el 35% de todos los ahorros en los Estados Unidos, y más del 80% de los estadounidenses no tenían absolutamente ningún ahorro.

La sequía contribuyó a la Gran Depresión, pero no fue un factor principal.

The legal structures set up at the time helped to perpetuate this imbalance. Taxes were slashed drastically, with the wealthiest millionaires seeing their tax burden cut down to a third of what it had been at the beginning of the 1920s. At the same time, laws passed that were meant to protect the lower-classes of the United States were knocked down, such as the 1923 ruling by the Supreme Court that a minimum-wage law was in fact unconstitutional.

At the same time, the stock market was climbing higher and higher, and more and more of the wealth begin created was tied to that market. When the stock market crashed in 1929, it set the stage for a massive economic collapse, and was undoubtedly one of the primary causes of the depression. Between the October crash and the end of the year, the stock market lost more than $40 billion US Dollars (USD), heralding the onset of the Great Depression.

As the stock market crashed, so did people’s faith in the economy. One of the big causes of the Great Depression was this lack of trust in the system, which led people to simply stop buying things. As people stopped purchasing, businesses stopped needing to create things, which led them to downsize, which meant unemployment skyrocketed. This massive unemployment was another of the causes, and at its peak more than one-in-four Americans had no job.

In the early-1930s banks in the United States were uninsured, meaning they were left largely to fend on their own in the case of failure. Through the 1930s more than 9,000 individual banks collapsed, and when they collapsed they took people’s savings with them. Without a Federal insurance system in place to protect those assets, large numbers of people lost everything they had. The bank failures also left surviving banks terrified of the future, and so they became less and less likely to lend money. New businesses and individuals were unable to find funds.

As a response to these many causes of the Great Depression, the government passed brutal laws to try to protect American businesses in the international market. Import taxes went through the roof, and foreign countries as a result stopped doing business with the United States, and in many cases actively retaliated against American policy with protectionist policies of their own.

There were other causes as well, from numerous failed policies instituted by the government to try to avert the crisis, to natural disasters like the Mississippi drought of 1930. Together all of these small reasons added up, and the United States slipped further and further into economic tragedy, eventually dragging most of the world down with it.