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Britain – The Economy, 1918-39

4. 1932-35: Recovery

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In this module we think about the performance of the British economy in the period 1932-35, focusing in particular on: (i) the relatively mildness of the Great Depression in Britain compared to Germany and the United States; (ii) the extent to which the Great Depression had bottomed out by 1932; (iii) the opportunities provided by the abandonment of the gold standard in September 1931; (iv) the impact of a reduction in interest rates; (v) the housing boom of the early 1930s; (vi) the extent to which the collapse in food prices was good for the British economy; (vii) the impact of Britain’s investment in high-growth industries including light engineering, electrical engineering and (in particular) motor vehicles; (viii) the implementation of protectionist measures, including a tariff of 10% on all imports in 1931, and the imposition of greater tariffs in particular industries, e.g. steel, motor vehicles; (ix) the impact of the Ottawa Conference and the establishment of ‘imperial preference’; (x) the disconnect between the balance of payments and the value of the pound; and (xi) the disconnect between how well the economy was doing on a national level and the experience of people ‘on the ground’.


In this course, Dr Christopher Price (York St John University) explores the development and performance of the British economy between 1918-39. In the first module, we consider the state of the British economy in the immediate aftermath of the First World War (1914-18), and the major differences between the pre- and post-war economy. In the four modules that follow, we look at four distinct periods in the performance of the British economy – the difficulties of the 1920s, the Great Depression, recovery in the first half of the 1930s and rearmament in the lead-up to war. In each case, we think about the economic and political considerations that informed economic policy, as well as the extent to which the international situation shaped the British economy in this period.


Dr Christopher Price is a Senior Lecturer in History at York St John University. His research interests encompass political, economic and military history with a particular focus on British and US history in the period surrounding the Great Depression and the two World Wars. His most recent publications in 2014 and 2015 explore the scientific and mathematical bases of British performance in twentieth century conflicts. His earlier publications investigated the performance of the British and US economies in the interwar period and the economic and financial basis of Anglo-American relations in the re-armament period before the outbreak of war in 1939.

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APA style

Price, C. (2021, January 14). Britain – The Economy, 1918-39 - 1932-35: Recovery [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Price, C. "Britain – The Economy, 1918-39 – 1932-35: Recovery." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 14 Jan 2021,

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