20th Century Political Economy Cycles 1890-2016
An Interaction of Politics and Economics
Return to 20th Century U.S. History
5/21/19         Please link to, use to educate and Share! 

1890- 1920 A Very Painful Coming of Age

1920-1929 Let the Good Times Role

1930-1945 Century's Most Difficult Period

1946-1960 Economic Prosperity Eases Accepting a Changing World

1961-1984 Living in Turmoil caused by changing Society Mores

1985-2000 The Great Moderation

2001-2018 A contentious Time


Period Summary

Rest of the Story

A Very Painful Coming of Age

Panic of 1893 was a serious economic depression in the United States because of railroad overbuilding based on shaky financing. This set off a series of bank failures.  A run  on the gold followed.

The resulting shortage of currency forced President Cleveland to borrow
 $65 million in gold from Wall-Street banker 
J.P. Morgan and
Rothschild Banking Family of England.

Scarlet Fever deaths
peaked at close to 5,000 and
 then slowly dropped thanks to penicillin.  

US Yellow Fever epidemic killed only 20 US as public misquote control eliminated the main cause, raw sewerage. A 1936 vaccine ended disease.

1907 Panic created another banking panic and J. P. Morgan led a group
of Wall Street bankers to saved the day with a large shot of bank liquidity.

Federal Reserve Act of 1913 eventually solved liquidity problems
 by acting as a the lender of last resort.
The problem which had grown too big for a few rich guys.
Some would ask if eventually is here yet?

1916 Measles kills 12,000 children


1918 Flu Pandemic kills 500,000

Terror Begins With the 1919 Red Scare

Immigration Acts-1917 returns Nativism as
barred Asians and a 1918 deportation was without due process.


It was a period of social activism and political reform beginning in the 1890s and continuing to the early 1920s. Exposing political machines to eliminate government corruption was an important progressive goal.

Progressives began a never ending struggle with ups and then down control oligopoly power. Progressives also sought regulation of monopolistic trust corporations through antitrust laws which were seen as a means to promote consumer benefit through fair competition.

A mixed economy was growing with public sector help for individuals and private industry. A problem like the hookworm parasite, which made many southern workers and students tired was solved , by the Rockefeller Foundation.  Its massive public-health campaign, working with government, radically changed the economic landscape of the Southeastern United States
Progress was slow, sometimes stagnate, always continuous.

They hoped to create a more democratic federalist republic by putting election reform high on their agenda. Post WW I Communists and unions created fears of anarchy so conservative government returned. A second Red Scare followed WW2. Then the War on Drugs. Then 9/11 created a  climate fear made more severe when Bush 2 coining the brand War on Terrorism. Then climate fear. Are politicians and media warmongers making us paranoid?

Economic Wellbeing would slowly but continuously increase.


Let the Good Times Role

but not before a Short Post WW1 Recession

Republican Led Expansion

WS Dominates

Constitutional amendment allowed for
a federal income tax, the direct election on US senators,
prohibited sale of alcohol, women to vote.

Stock Market Crashed   

Wall Street and Business flourished and both provided the financing to Help Rebuild Europe.

Century's Most Difficult Period

Great Depression

Dust Bow

Scottsboro Racial Injustice Signifies Continues.

Bonus Army Disaster
symbolizes laissez faire government

Memorial Day Massacre
10 strikers die, government still supports business

War II4  
Over 400,000 Americans Died


Keynes won the battle with classical economists, or did he?

Scottsboro most famous of many publically allowed atrocities.

WW 1 should have been avoided especially since the unintended consequence was WW 2

Russia stopped "the" Fascists
 thank to Western aid.
 22,000,000 died and
her attempt at Communism
allowed the West to unify behind
US controlled Geopolitics.

Economic Prosperity
Changing World Difficulties

Cold War Begins with Churchill's Iron Curtain Speech

Berlin Blockade

US Sponsored Iranian Coup
Sets Middle East Terror in Motion

McCarthyism creates Second Red Scare

57,628 Polio cases with 21,000 paralyzed
Vaccine followed and Polio is now about gone

Asian Flu 70,000 die

Racial Turmoil yields Civil Rights Improvements


Marshal Plan
rebuilt Europe and helped U.S economy

Truman Doctrine

hoped to contain fears of communism

Lack of Global Competition
grows the US middle class.

Living in Turmoil

caused by changing Society Mores

4 Assassinations 
JK, MLK, RK and Malcolm X Assassinated

Social Unrest
Church Bombing  Watts Riots    Kent State

Carter Administration creates a Hostage Crisis

Stagflation from Unfinanced Vietnam War and 2 Oil Crises Cured by a Fed Sponsored Seriouse Recession

Ronald Reagan Cut Taxes, Increased Military Spending and began a long deregulation era

1970's middle income stagnation  
Pain was eased by home equity loans,
government deficit spending plus increased entitlement.

Expected governme t retirement liabilities explod.


Immigration redirected away from nationality discrimination and toward families and skilled immigrants.

Elderly hurt by Inflation and an inadequate safety net was shoveled by 1983 reform act

1985-2000 The Great Moderation

Aids kills 200,000

"Contract with America" gives Republican the1994 congress.


created low wage job competition for American workers.

Real Minimum Wage Continues Down

Continued strong economy

Republican sponsored

Government Shutdown
elects a contention President Clinton.

Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act Anti regulation ends

Glass Steagall Act control of Wall Street excesses.  

2001-2018 A contentious Time


This periods benefited from an end to previous period turmoil.

2000 Millennium Time Change
 causes needless apprehension

9/11 Terror attack
declared war by Bush 2 creates terror

Medicare Part D, Tax cuts
, 2003, then spending on two Terror Wars Iraq and Afghanistan increased the debt .

The 2007 Financial Meltdown
 ends when the Fed guarantees all worldwide debt
except that of Russia then buys it to ease pain.





Great Recession Ended Quickly, recovered slowly.

White middle class consternation caused extensive net, gender role difficulties

Voters continued to demand all government activities helping them and wanted cuts in other programs to lower the deficits.

Both parties gladly provide the first and continued to ignore the second

Sources A Very Brief U.S. History   Don't  Know Much About History  

20th Century Decade Evaluation   Brief History US Banking

History Turning Points 2   History Turning Points 3  

Prepared by Walter Antoniotti   Send Suggestions to antonw@ix.netcom.com    


You Should Know

Health Problems Solved
1902 Scarlet Fever deaths peaked at close to 5,000 and then slowly dropped thanks to penicillin.  
1905 Last Yellow Fever epidemic killed 20 in US as misquote control eliminated cause. 1936 vaccine ended disease.
1916 Measles 12,000 mostly children died. Vaccine finally eliminated most cases by early 1980's.
1918 Spanish Flu 500,000 died in US. This could have been the cause of the post WW 1 recession.
1921 Diphtheria 206,000 cases, 15,520 deaths, mostly children died.
1943 Penicillin  1,000,000 lives be saved during the 20th century.
1953 Polio 57,628 cases with 21,000 paralyzed Vaccine followed and Polio is now about gone. 
1957-58 Asian Flu  70,000 died in US.
1968-69 Hong Kong Flu 34,000 died in US.
1973 US ends Conscription
1985-95+ AIDS killed ten to twenty thousand per year in 1970's.  Annual  deaths peaked at 41,699 in mid 1990's
and then they quickly dropped due to super drug development and availability. Total US deaths were 658,507. 
2011 TB From a 50% kill rate in 1900 cases dropped from 86,304 in 1959 the first year of data availability to 10,528 in 2011. 529 died in 2009.
By the 1960's Measles, Mumps,  Rubella and a 1995 Chicken Pox vaccines made childhood safer and more enjoyable 
Return to Top as did seat belts, infant safety seats, bicycle safety helmets, and 1962 began the era of government sponsored child protective services.

US Deaths from Infectious Disease source

 Evidence of impact of chlorination on U.S. public health. Crude death rate for infectious diseases in the United States, 1900-1996. Source: Armstrong et al. 1999.

4U.S. Cost of War
Nineteen-month World War 1 killed 116,516 from all causes with 204,002 wounded in action. The resulting  peace treaty severely penalized Germany and divided the Ottoman Empire among the winners. These winners continued their 19th Century Western Colonialism, which planted the seeds for Arab Unrest.

Four year World War 2 killed 405,399  from all causes  
with 670,660 wounded in action. Losers were not punished.  Russian Bear having suffered
26.6 military and civilian deaths used their newly occupied eastern European territory to provide a protective buffer.

Three year Korean War killed 36,574 with 103,284 wounded in action. South Korea remained free. Japan felt safe and used a small defense budget to build industrial capital and rejoined the developed world.

The very long Vietnam War2 killed 58,220 with over 
153,303 wounded with few important positive results.

As of 12/31/14 Afghanistan War killed 2,312 with 20,026 wounded with few important positive results.

As of 5/29/12 Iraq War killed 4,425 with 32,223  wounded with few important positive results.

5Cold War 
After WW 2 the Russian Communists seized power in Poland, closed access to Berlin and the Western Allies countered with an airlift. Russia exploded an atomic bomb. Communists won the Chinese Communist Revolution.

The 1950-53 Korean War had UN forces fighting against North Korean Communists invaders.

Russia exploded a Hydrogen bomb, put down revolts in Poland and Hungary, and launched 2 Sputniks.  

The 1956 Suez Canal Crisis caused tension between Western allies.  

Military and political advisors wanted to use nuclear weapons in the Korean War against China and again wanted them used against China in reference to Taiwan and Formosa. Ike didn't listen. The US 1960 U-2 Spy Plane Incident  ended the Eisenhower Administration's chess game with Communism and it also ended the very brief Paris Peace Conference. Ike had been trying unsuccessfully for eight years to control a renegade CIA. He had wanted the expose the missile gap fear created by the CIA.

JFK didn't listen to his advisors who also wanted to use nuclear weapons in relation to the 1961 Cuban Missile Crisis. A more peaceful blockade settled the crisis.

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Recent Bailouts
1975 New York City $1.3b paid back + interest
1979 Chrysler Motors $1.5b paid back + interest
1982 Oklahoma-based Penn Square Bank $65m
1984 Continental Illinois Bank bailout $14b
1980's Savings and Loan Bailouts $124.6b [2]
2009-10 Great Recession TARP cost $24b, Detroit cost $16b Positive results GM and Chrysler workers kept their jobs. Quick action by two administrations helped create a quick US economic recovery while Europe still
dilly dallies.  At 2% additional economic growth per year the higher GDP is worth about $300 billion/year.

Determinates of U.S. Individual Well-Being
1) Society's accumulations are key to the well-being of its citizens. 
    Think how the public safety net has steadily increased since the
    1930's and the successes of the federal Children's Bureau.
2) Scientific achievements have continuously added to citizen well-being.
    Think disease control, smart phones, streaming audio/video, Gillette
    Stadium...See great achievements
3) Personal Income which is a function of nature and nurture has
     increased continuously if not always rapidly. Think Russia, China, 
     and Europe's really slow recovery from the Great Recession  ...


A pro-slavery mob attacking the offices of the Alton Observer in Illinois.
The attack killed anti-slavery editor and proprietor, Elijah Lovejoy.
 (Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Why Violence Against Journalists
Ran Rampant in 19th-Century America 7/2/18