It’s perhaps part of the human condition to forget the lessons of history. It’s particularly true when more than a century passes and the generations that both caused as well as were affected by an event are long gone. Unfortunately and as a result, history often ends up repeating itself.
So it’s no surprise that even the experts have compared and contrasted the economic downturn of 2008-09 to the next closest relative, the “Great Depression” of the 1930’s. Neither are, however, unique events in the history of the United States. They are simply the latest sequels to cyclical, incremental manipulations of the economy that result in a perfect storm that hits hardest the working class. The only thing that has really changed is scale as now we talk in terms of the global economy vs. merely that of one country or the other. Here are some examples of similar crisis over the last century and a half, all brought on by similar root causes.
The Panic of 1907 – The New York Stock Exchange fell almost 50% from its peak the prior year.
The Panic of 1893 – brought on partially by railroad over speculation and shaky financing. As a result, many banks failed and businesses went bankrupt, sound familiar?
The Panic 0f 1873 – A warm up for the Panic of 1893 partially brought on by similar forces and a trade deficit following the American Civil War.