Europe in depression Throughout 1929 and even some way into the following year, few people appreciated that the world was on the point of experiencing one of the worst depressions in history. Even after the dramatic collapse of the American stock market in October 1929 and the sharp check to economic activity in many countries in the latter half of that year, there were still many people, especially in America, who were prepared to believe that these events represented merely a temporary and modest break in the rate of expansion, a view that gathered some force in the rst half of 1930, when the US economy showed some signs of revival. Two years later, all such illusions had been well and truly shattered. After nearly three years of precipitous decline and severe nancial crises in Europe and America, no one could be in any doubt about the gravity of the situation. At that point, the burning question was ‘When was recovery going to take place?’ It was not long before this question was answered.