Rise from the Ashes – Learning from the ‘Great Depression’

Go Lean Commentary 

This is Summer 2020, the whole world is reeling from the effects of the Coronavirus COVID-19 crisis. There are health and economic repercussions – systemic threats – as the world has never seen.

Or has it?

Have we been here before, where the economic systems completely imploded and there was the need to reboot, rebuild and re-start the economic engines in the global economy?

Yes, indeed. There was the Great Depression.

How bad was the Great Depression?

The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world, lasting from 1929 to 1939. … By 1933, when the Great Depression reached its lowest point, some 15 million Americans were unemployed and nearly half the country’s banks had failed. – Source: History.com.

Traders rush, 1929, October in Wall Street as New York Stock Exchange crashed sparking a run on banks that spread accross the country. – October 1929 was the beginning of the 1929 Stock Market Crash. Within the first few hours the stock market was open, prices fell so far as to wipe out all the gains that had been made in the previous year. The Dow Jones Industrial Index closed at 230. Since the stock market was viewed as the chief indicator of the American economy, public confidence was shattered. Between October 29 and November 13 (when stock prices hit their lowest point) over 30 billion USD disappeared from the American economy. It took nearly twenty-five years for many stocks to recover. (Photo by – / AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

Considering the years 1929 to 1939 means that most of us were not alive to remember this crisis. Fortunately, there are lots of media material to consume, consult and contemplate about that crisis’s origin, duration and resolution. In effect, there are lots of Lessons to learn from the Great Depression.

These desperate times calls for us to open “every cupboard” for knowledge and wisdom to survive this crisis.

There is this urgency for the Caribbean member-states to reform and transform. The 2013 book Go Lean…Caribbean had previously asserted that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste” – referring to the 2007 – 2009 Great Recession. This urging is even more acute now, with this Coronavirus COVID-19 crisis. We must forge permanent change on our Caribbean society, if we want to survive in the near future – otherwise, our citizens will abandon us further. Despite how monumental a task this sounds, it is conceivable, believable and achievable. We can Rise from the Ashes of this crisis and build a better society from the ashes.

We just completed a 6-part series in June on Rising from the Ashes where we considered these dimensions:

  1. Rising from the Ashes – The Phoenix rises from the Pandemic
  2. Rising from the Ashes – One person – Dead or Alive – can make a difference
  3. Rising from the AshesNatural Disasters – The Price of Paradise
  4. Rising from the Ashes – Political Revolutions – Calling ‘Balls and Strikes’
  5. Rising from the Ashes – War – “What is it good for?”
  6. Rising from the Ashes – Wrong Ethos could also rise – Cautionary tale of patriotic German Jews

Now for this continuation, a 7th edition, we consider the lessons from the Great Depression. Let consider this excellent media production:

Title: Looking Back To The 1930s: Lessons From The Great Depression

Looking back to 1930, the year after the start of the Great Depression. What lessons did we learn about how best to move forward with a suffering economy? We look at our current crisis now through the lens of American history.

Guests [for this show]:

From The Reading List

  • Futurity: “The Great Depression proved we need government in a crisis” — “As the world reckons with an economic crisis that the International Monetary Fund anticipates to be the worst recession since the Great Depression, what can we learn from history? How are these two events similar, and how are they different?”
  • NPR: “‘A Lot To Be Hopeful For’: Crisis Seen As Historic, Not Another Great Depression” — “With the U.S. economy in free-fall, a lot of forecasters have been digging deep into the history books, looking for a guideposts of what to expect. Often, they’ve turned to the chapter on the 1930s.”
  • Bloomberg: “How Bad Might It Get? Think the Great Depression” — “As the economic carnage from the coronavirus pandemic continues, a long-forbidden word is starting to creep onto people’s lips: ‘depression.'”
  • The New York Times: “The New Great Depression Is Coming. Will There Be a New New Deal?” — “Until very recently, Andrew Yang thought that the need for a universal basic income would be a big issue in the 2024 election, as ‘many of the trends that I campaigned on were going to become completely clear to more and more Americans’ over the next four years. He was arguing, for example, that between now and then, ’30 percent of our stores and malls were going to close because of Amazon.’ After more than a month of coronavirus lockdowns, Yang’s prediction looks quaintly optimistic.”
  • Vox: “Will the worst downturn since the Great Depression last as long?” — “Weeks of record job losses have left the United States with an unemployment rate that’s widely estimated to be higher than at any time since the Great Depression. That shocking reality naturally invites analogies and raises what is perhaps the most important economic question of our time: How long will the bad times last?”
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer: “Mounting job losses. Fear of the unknown. We’ve seen this before during the Great Depression. Here are some lessons learned.” — “The blunt headlines that appeared sporadically in The Inquirer throughout 1929 hinted at the dark menace of long-term unemployment, a condition that would worsen as the Great Depression unfurled over the next 12 years. ‘Jobless man ends life.’ ‘Man, ill and jobless, is suicide.’ ‘Jobless Darby man a suicide.'”
  • CNN: “We’ve overcome hard times before: What Americans who beat the Great Depression can teach us today.” — “A sudden crisis turns the world upside down. Millions are thrown out of work. People despair and dread the future. That was the grim scenario many Americans faced almost a century ago after the 1929 stock market crash triggered the Great Depression. And many people are experiencing it today as the coronavirus pandemic ravages the US and the rest of the world.”


Source: On Point Posted May 18, 2020; retrieved July 11, 2020 from: https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2020/05/18/great-depression-how-did-we-recover


AUDIO-PODCast – Looking Back To The 1930s: Lessons From The Great Depression – https://dcs.megaphone.fm/BUR6433954311.mp3?key=dae7f9a0936e0993c31cff98fdd7b44e

Looking back to 1930, the year after the start of the Great Depression. What lessons did we learn about how best to move forward with a suffering economy? We look at our current crisis now through the lens of American history. David Kennedy and Jack Beatty join Meghna Chakrabarti.

Alternative PODCast Broadcast on July 3, 2020: https://dcs.megaphone.fm/BUR6433954311.mp3?key=dae7f9a0936e0993c31cff98fdd7b44e

What was the resolution for the United States for the Great Depression?

The New Deal … (Truly, a reboot, “arising from the ashes” of the “Old Deal“).

See full details here …

Lessons from the New Deal. It wasn’t one big package wrapped in political consensus. We look at the real, messy process that pulled the U.S. out of the Great Depression.

What exactly are the lessons for the Caribbean?

  • We need efficient and effective governance.
  • We need economic security provisions – “Safety Nets”.
  • We need to protect the “Weak from being Abused by the Strong”.

Economics, Security and Governance – Yep; these are the 3 societal engines that have been the focus of the movement behind the Go Lean book. As related repeatedly, we must first have a plan …

  • Know where we are
  • Where we want to go
  • How to get there

Rather than a “plan” the Go Lean book call this approach a roadmap; step-by-step directions for taking the whole region – the political Caribbean of 30 member-states – to a destination: a better place to live, work and play.

This theme of organizing the region for a technocratic response – establishing New Guards – has been elaborated upon in a number of previous Go Lean commentaries, before and during this pandemic. Consider this sample list below; but first do realize that this is not just an American retrospective for “Learning from Economic Crises”. No, lessons abound from other countries as well. For example, there are good lessons and bad lessons from a number of European countries in their historicity of managing their recent crises:


Iceland did the heavy-lifting to rebuilding their society and Rising from the Ashes of the Greet Recession. They did not put out the fire; they let it burn:

Lessons from Iceland – Model of Recovery; posted September 23, 2015
During the bad days of the Great Recession – at the precipice of disaster – the country deviated from other troubled regions …

“Iceland let its banks fail in 2008 because they proved too big to save.”

How does it relate to the Caribbean? The Caribbean is at the precipice … now; many of the member-states are near Failed-State status, while others are still hoping to recover from the devastating Great Recession of 2008. Turn-around should not take this long – 7 years. Strategies, tactics and implementations of best-practices to effect a turn-around must be pursued now.

Iceland has now recovered, and complaining about a 2% unemployment rate. What did they do that was so radically different than other locations? For one, they changed course regarding economics, security and governing policies. An ultra-capitalist movement had taken hold of the country and business communities; they pursued an aggressive “boom-or-bust” strategy, that ultimately “busted”, rather than continue on that road, the country – all aspects of society – altered course and returned to a path of sound fundamentals.


Greece, on the other hand, did a poor job of managing their crisis, and suffered as a result:

Pressed by Debt Crisis, Doctors Leave Greece in Droves; posted July 1, 2015
Poor economic conditions are forcing a brain drain among a country’s professionals. Yes, we understand all too well.

This is the crisis for Greece! This is the crisis for the Caribbean, as well!

This is a consistent theme in the book Go Lean…Caribbean. The book posits that the events in Greece are relevant for the Caribbean, North America and the world economy as a whole. What’s worse is that many Caribbean member-states are in the same situation.

Greece is the weak link in the Eurozone; it is inching closer to defaulting on its debt. The country has been in a long standoff with its European creditors on the terms of a multibillion-dollar bailout. If the country goes bankrupt or decides to leave the 19-nation Eurozone, the Greek debt crisis could create instability in the region and reverberate around the globe.


Other previous blog-commentaries referring to the New Guards for the Caribbean specifically are catalogued here as follows:

http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=19409 Coronavirus: Ready for the ‘Clear & Present’ Economic Threat/Danger
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=17358 Marshall Plan – A Lesson in History
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=15996 Good Governance: Stepping Up in an Emergency
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=13999 First Steps for Caribbean Security – Deputize ‘Me’, says the Caribbean Union
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=11759 Understand the Market, Plan the … Reboot and Recovery
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=10566 Funding the Caribbean Security Pact – Yes, we can!
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=10043 Integration Plan for Greater Caribbean Prosperity
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=9038 Caribbean Charity Management: Grow Up Already & Be Responsible
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=7896 The Logistics of Disaster Relief
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=5002 Managing a ‘Clear and Present Danger’

Yes, a New Guard, for Caribbean economic security is vital for our regional survival – we cannot survive on our beauty alone.

We must do the heavy-lifting to reform and transform. We must let the roof on our broken “House of Cards” burn down and then we must build a new stronger house from the ashes on a firmer foundation. Only then will we be able to promise (and fulfill) a viable future of progress and prosperity to our young people.

Yes, COVID-19 was not the first crisis for our region – we can learn so much from the Great Depression – and may not be the last one. So, we must have the New Guards in place to protect our people against systemic threats.

We urged all Caribbean stakeholders to lean-in to this Go Lean roadmap to elevate our regional society. This is how we will make our homeland a better place to live, work and play.  🙂

About the Book
The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), for the elevation of Caribbean society – for all member-states. This CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies.

The Go Lean book provides 370-pages of turn-by-turn instructions on “how” to adopt new community ethos, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to execute so as to reboot, reform and transform the societal engines of Caribbean society.

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Who We Are
The movement behind the Go Lean book – a non-partisan, apolitical, religiously-neutral Community Development Foundation chartered for the purpose of empowering and re-booting economic engines – stresses that reforming and transforming the Caribbean societal engines must be a regional pursuit. This was an early motivation for the roadmap, as pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 12 – 13):

x. Whereas we are surrounded and allied to nations of larger proportions in land mass, populations, and treasuries, elements in their societies may have ill-intent in their pursuits, at the expense of the safety and security of our citizens. We must therefore appoint “new guards” to ensure our public safety and threats against our society, both domestic and foreign. ….

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes … can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.

xxiv. Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

xxv. Whereas the legacy of international democracies had been imperiled due to a global financial crisis, the structure of the Federation must allow for financial stability and assurance of the Federation’s institutions. To mandate the economic vibrancy of the region, monetary and fiscal controls and policies must be incorporated as proactive and reactive measures. These measures must address threats against the financial integrity  of the Federation and of the member-states.

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.

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