Benjamin Roth kept a diary throughout the Great Depression. His diary was turned into the book The Great Depression: A Diary which offers a unique take on the time period from a financial perspective.
Roth realized early that he was witnessing a major financial crisis and wanted to learn from it. So he started journaling in 1931. He jotted down his thoughts on stories he heard from clients and events he observed. He tracked the stock market, local stock prices, and the economy both locally and nationally.
Three big things in Roth’s diary stood out.
First, one thing Roth repeated over and over was the lack of cash to buy bargain stocks. Nobody had money. The combination of a 90% market decline and widespread bank failures destroyed people’s savings.
Even the banks that didn’t fail basically froze their customer’s savings accounts. Limits were set on how much money a customer could withdraw in a day. In some cases, it was as low as 5% of the money in their account. Continue Reading…