What the 21st century can learn from the 1929 crash | Larry Elliott

It was the biggest setback to the global economy since the dawn of the modern industrial age. But did the world’s reaction worsen the effects of the 1929 Crash? And have we learned from those mistakes?

As the summer of 1929 drew to a close, the celebrated Yale university economist Irving Fisher took to the pages of the New York Times to opine about Wall Street. Share prices had been rising all year; investors had been speculating with borrowed money on the assumption that the good times would continue. It was the bull market of all time, and those taking a punt wanted reassurance that their money was safe.

Fisher provided it for them, predicting confidently: “Stock markets have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” On that day, the Wall Street Crash of October 1929 was less than two months away. It was the worst share tip in history. Nothing else comes close.

There are similarities between now and the 1930s, in the sense that you have a declining superpower

If Keynesian and monetarist economists agree on one thing, it is the disastrous consequences of deflationary policy

The Great Depression ushered in isolationism, protectionism, aggressive nationalism and totalitarianism

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Are the 2010s really like the 1930s? The truth about life in the Great Depression

Record unemployment, costly healthcare, a massive north-south divide, rat-infested slums – and movie palaces, dance halls and lidos. Juliet Gardiner kicks off our special focus on the 1930s with a look at daily life in Britain

Commentators often point to parallels between the current era is and the 1930s – whether they are discussing geopolitics, state benefits or even “alternative facts”.

There are many striking similarities, but significant differences, too – as the Guardian’s special focus on the 1930s will demonstrate, by re-examining the key events, disputes and cultural trends of what the poet WH Auden termed “a low, dishonest decade”.

By the 1930s, cinema had taken over from theatre and music halls as the most popular entertainment

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