- Taschenbuch: 288 Seiten
- Verlag: PublicAffairs; Auflage: Reprint (31. August 2010)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 1586489011
- ISBN-13: 978-1586489014
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 15,2 x 1,7 x 22,9 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: Schreiben Sie die erste Bewertung
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 79.931 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
The Great Depression: A Diary (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 31. August 2010
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“Benjamin Roth has left us a vivid portrait of the Great Depression that is all the more powerful for the similarities and differences with the financial upheavals of today. Roth enables us -- in ways no historian can match -- to immerse ourselves in the sense of despair that Americans of that era felt and their hope that the economy would revive, long before it did. To read the diaries now is both enlightening and chilling.”
Jonathan Alter, The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope
“We imagine the Great Depression at two extremes--Franklin Roosevelt's jaunty smile and the haunting images of Dustbowl destitution. But in between were everyday middle class strivers like Benjamin Roth, trying to sort through the wreckage. FDR and the WPA may be long gone but the professional class remains, and the record of its struggle in the Depression has been thin until now. Roth's incisive diaries are more than a precious time capsule. They speak to our economic hopes and fears directly, and to the bewilderment of our own time."
New York Times
“Mr. Roth’s diaries … are compelling reading, because they force readers to reflect on both the similarities and the differences between then and now…. We’re all a little like Benjamin Roth, asking questions we don’t know the answer to, and wonder, as he did 70 years ago, whether the crisis is, indeed, over.”
“Here are brief, unsentimental, clear-eyed notes of the growing sense of hopelessness that came over Midwestern American life. This moving book is edited by [Roth’s] son Daniel.”
“A fascinating read, and strangely familiar.”
“[Roth’s] entries compellingly detail the everyday”
“Roth’s diary is plainly written and professionally edited. It is a window on another age.”
“There is an honest searching quality to his day-by-day accounts of banks closing, bread lines forming, friends failing. Striving to understand, he provides a remarkable and often engagingly literate discussion of the great Depression’s impact on people like him.”
Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
Daniel B. Roth, son of Benjamin Roth, is the chairman of the law firm of Roth, Blair, Roberts, Strasfeld & Lodge in You
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Beginning in June 1931, Benjamin Roth recorded in a series of notebooks his observations on the events in Youngstown, Ohio. Highlighted are the sad state of his legal practice throughout the depression years, bank closings and reopenings, steel production levels, growth in the ranks of the unemployed, and extreme deflation in the early years of the depression. Though having no investments of his own, Roth recorded stock prices and dividend payments, and much of the discussion surrounds the best way to have invested if he had been able. Roth worries most about a period of strong inflation spurred by the policies of the Roosevelt administration and about middle-class professionals such as him being bypassed by the growing recovery, but also about the anti-Semitism of the campaign by Republican Alfred M. Landon in the 1936 presidential election, Hitler's takeover of Europe, government control, socialism, losing the gold standard and the rise of organized labor, especially when it led to strikes and violent confrontation in Youngstown. He worries, too, about collecting what is due his practice without causing hardship.
I know little about investing, but Roth's progression through the years of the depression is evident. At first, he believes that government bonds would have been the only safe strategy; later fears of inflation push him toward stocks, preferred and common. When the recovery stumbled greatly in mid 1937, he comes to believe that only having a pot of cash available and shifting among different strategies the follow the curve of boom and bust is prudent. In the end, he aligns himself somewhere between the speculators who he blames for the crash and the long-term, bonds-only investor he would have been earlier in the crisis.
Roth's theorizing about investment strategy is nothing more, because he is too short on cash to do anything with his ideas. (While the book offers few details, the late 1940s and following decades were more profitable for Roth and his law office, which is still in operation with his son and editor at the helm. Roth and his wife also left behind the Benjamin W. and Marion B. Roth Foundation, a charitable organization.) What he offers in addition to his hypothetical musings on where to allocate non-existent savings is a picture of depression-era concern and struggle among the middle, professional class -- not the union workers, not the migrant fruit pickers and not the stockbrokers driven to despair by losing everything. It is an important perspective.
The parallels to today are rampant, despite the obvious changes over the years. I find it hard to sympathize when Roth complains that only the working class is getting the benefits of the recovery, this due to federal requirements for shorter work days, increased pay and recognition of unions. The fear of socialism because of government spending I do not share, but many do today; bold government spending is what ended the Great Depression, though only when war gave the administration full license to do so. What I do share with Roth is resentment of those who play with the market as speculators, not as investors. He makes that distinction clear, and the blame is just as evident. Along with deregulation, those speculating in real estate, bad real estate loans and petroleum futures share a great deal of the responsibility for the fact that millions of us now make less money than we did two years ago, and that college graduates cannot find jobs, and that many formerly employed no longer have any job or are working well beneath their abilities. Yet he leaves room in his view of the market for a person not to hide his savings away but to invest it in growing business and government bonds, putting it to work while reaping the benefits -- but in a way that is both responsible and prudent.
I read this book in 24 hours. The format of short diary entries combined with the thrill of following the ups and downs of Roth's community and the country in light of today's situation made it easy. I'd recommend you pick it up and do the same.
I found the book hard to put down and believe that it has great historical value. We have all read histories of the Depression, but to read the day-to-day account of a young lawyer who was living it in real time is unique. It was amazing to me to be able to follow the history as it was being made, and it gave me much greater insight into how the so-called middle class suffered. I give it my 5 star approval.
My father-in-law was born in 1920. He turned out to have a life long hatred of the stock market and refused to ever invest in stocks.
After reading this book, I better appreciate how the Depression experience changed their lives forever.
During the Roaring Twenties, the Dow Jones average grew at a compounded growth rate of 16% a year. It increased from about 100 in 1920 to 381 in 1929. This boom period is similar to the decades of the 1980s and 1990s. In each of these decades, the stock market appreciated at a compounded annual growth rate of about 18%.
It is hard for me to comprehend the stock market shrinking in value by 90%. I first started investing in stock mutual funds in 1980. I lived through the 1-day decline of 22% in 1987, and the roughly 50% declines in both the Tech Wreck of 2000 and the Sub-Prime Crash of 2008. I stayed the course and stayed fully invested through these declines. I am not sure I could stay the course through a 90% decline like in the Depression.
It was interesting to read about Roth's struggles to understand all the economic factors changing around him. It seems that 70 years later in 2008, nobody really understands economics yet. When the first rumbling of troubles in the real estate market surfaced in 2006, I remember an "expert" talking head on TV commenting on the situation. His prediction was that since real estate and construction were less than 10% of the annual GDP, even if we lost the whole sector it would not have much impact on the economy. He did not realize that like the Great Depression, highly leveraged investments implode when the market prices goes down.
I liked Roth's internal struggles to develop an investment strategy that would survive the inevitable boom and bust cycles. He trends towards buying investments at the bottom and selling at the top. He then realizes it is almost impossible to make 2 decisions at exactly the right times (the buy and sell decisions).
The Great Depression prompted other to try to develop a better investment strategy. Benjamin Graham settled in on a portfolio with both stocks and bonds. He suggested the stock portion range from 25% to 75%, with the balance in bonds. He suggested buying stocks when they were selling for less than 50% on the dollar, and selling when they reached 100% of their intrinsic value.
Roth observed that investors with a diversified portfolio did ok. This included blue chip stocks, government bonds, and real estate. None of these should be purchased using borrowed money.
It is too bad the authors did not add a graph of the Dow Jones from 1920 until 1940. This graphic would help readers to understand with an image how high the market went, and how dramatically it declined.
If you are going to attempt to grow your wealth over time, I highly recommend you read this book.
So the chance to read a nunc-pro-tunc account of what daily life was like to a person living in the Great Depression, it's a fantastic historical opportunity to enter a time capsule with such granularity and texture that you feel like you are there.
But what's haunting is the similarities of life then to life today. Phantom ups and downs so the unaware public is being convinced that the worst is over, when in fact, history showed that it was only going to get worse. The government bailouts, and the fear of inflation. In many ways reading this book is like reading today's papers.
Scary and enlightening - it's a great piece of american history.