Global Economic Imbalances: The Impact of World War I and the Great Depression

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Global Economic Imbalances

The United States benefitted hugely from the First World War. None of its land had been destroyed, its human losses were relatively small, and sales of food, weapons, and industrial products to the allies had benefitted it enormously. By the time the war ended, the United States had become the world's leading economic power. Its agricultural production was very high, and its industrial production represented 44.8% of global production. Its higher level of competitiveness opened up international markets to its products, which invaded the global markets that had previously been dominated by European industries. In addition, many European countries were indebted to the United States as a result of the war loans.

In contrast to US expansion, the First World War had impoverished the countries of Europe, whose agricultural and industrial production was declining, and which had to cope with war loans and the devaluation of their currencies. The United States was the greatest economic power at the time. When it was shaken by a terrible economic crisis in 1929, the entire global economy, which was linked to and dependent on the USA, entered a period of economic depression. The effects of unemployment and poverty led to a severe social crisis.

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