At the most basic level, many people were ruined. They had borrowed more than they could pay back because they believed that the good times would go on forever. Now they realized that they would not. In Wall Street there were several suicides. But all over the USA, ordinary people, who had been led to believe that the stockmarket was a ‘sure thing’ that could go on forever, found that they had been led astray. Consequently there was an enormous loss of confidence in the American way. If the stockmarket had collapsed, what could be next? No one spent money, so demand for goods fell. Industry declined.
In the USA there was no dole, no state welfare. People were in dire poverty. Ueues at soup kitchens run by charities became a common sight. Cars, furniture and even homes were repossessed because people defaulted on the hire purchase or mortgage repayments. Many people lost their homes. Shanty-towns began to appear on the outskirts of many American cities. They were nick-named Hoovervilles. There appeared to be no way out of the misery and the government seemed not to care. When Hoover was interviewed by a magazine about the effects of the Depression, he commented: ‘Nobody’s actually starving’. Soon people were commenting: ‘In Hoover we trusted, now we are busted’. By 1932 unemployment had reached 13,000,000 and there appeared to be no way out of the problem. This had all happened in the economically most powerful country in the world. If the USA could not protect its people, there appeared to be little hope for the rest of the world.