Sunday, 30 November 2014

From Wealthy to Nothing

The Great Depression

This is an image of Walter Thornton, a stockbroker who lost all of his money when the stock market crashed on Black Tuesday. This image was probably used to invoke some sense of empathy, as I'm sure Walter is selling off his auto-mobile for what I assume to be a relatively small amount of money. I chose this image due to the underwhelming amount of knowledge that I have on people who where considerably wealthy before the Depression and what happened to them afterwards, I naturally just assumed that they suffered like everyone else. However, although the man in this image appears to be in some sense of turmoil, apart from the pricing of his auto-mobile, nothing in this image really indicates that he was greatly impacted.
 Many of the wealthy in fact where not greatly impacted by the depression as only 40% of the country were hardly affected, although it could be argued that Walter was only impacted because he attempted to trade on the stock market and it fell through. I look at this image as a comment on how many people where lured into a false sense of security during the roaring twenties and despite the many 'mini' recessions that happened during that time, the American aspect of capitalism encouraged people to risk more, to want more until there was nothing left to give, ending up with people like Walter who risked all their money on the stock market, hoping that the strength of the American dollar would surely lead them to even more success and fortune. However, this was not the case and like Walter many people lost everything.

During the 'Great' recession in 2008 Lehman Brothers a global financial services firm filed for bankruptcy. before filing for bankruptcy, Lehman Brothers was the fourth  largest investment bank in the US. I chose this image due to that fact that the sign the men are carrying into Christie's, used to hold so much respect and prestige within investment banking. however, after the recession hit, the sign became a joke, a symbol of failure and collapse. The fall of Lehman Brothers Inc was seen to be a significant part of the recession and is thought to have played a major role in the unfolding of the late 2008 recession.
In comparison to the picture above from the Great Depression, it could be interpreted as a symbol of the flaws of capitalism. Two years after the recession a court case found that many executives at the bank used cosmetic accounting gimmicks at the end of each quarter in order to make its finances appear less shaky then they already were, encouraging more people to give away their money and invest it under a false sense of security. Also, in comparison to the picture above, this picture shows people willing to sell anything in order to make money, just like Walter Thornton in the picture above who is selling his auto-mobile, the two men in the picture below appear to be carrying the Lehman Brothers sign into Christie's for an auction to sell it.

Both of these images do show that regardless of public speculation, it is not only the less fortunate who suffer, on both circumstances people who would normally be considered as wealthy can be just as affected as those who are less fortunate.

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