An economic depression is a period of falling prices, low production of goods, and high unemployment. The Great Depression of 1929–1934 caused hardship in the United States, in the countries of Europe, and in their overseas empires. Banks closed and firms went out of business.
In 1929, US investors found that their shares of stock had become worthless. All trading ceased on Wall Street, New York City’s financial district, as the New York Stock Exchange crashed. Fortunes were lost overnight and factories laid off workers.
The 1920s and 1930s were already desperate times in Australia and New Zealand, in Great Britain, and across Europe. When an Austrian bank collapsed, chaos spread to central Europe. Germany was struggling, too, as it tried to recover from World War I and pay money to France as reparation for the war.