*noun*; global economic collapse; in the USA, this began in 1929 and persisted to 1939; most other industrialized countries emerged from the Depression earlier.more...
During the Great Depression, unemployment reached over 25% in the USA, and those who had jobs suffered severe wage cuts. The index of industrial output fell over 53% from its high in July '29, while trade and capital markets plummeted to mere fractions of their former levels.
Many people imagine that the Stock Market Crash (Oct '29) and the Great Depression are the same thing. However, it took another three years for employment, bank failures, and declining industrial output to run its course.
In 1929 the USA had 25,000 banks. By 1933, 10,000 had either failed or been merged with another to avoid failure. At this time there was no FDIC, so depositors mostly lost their money.
Another phenomenon was plunging prices: the consumer price index fell 25% during the first four years. For businesses, this was a disaster, and forced them to lay off millions.
The Great Depression made farms in much of the Southwest unviable; ruined farmers fled to California or Washington, and their abandoned farms succumbed to the Dust Bowl. This was the single largest ecological disaster in recorded history.
A simile for getting hit with lightning while in last place in Mario Kart 64.
Getting hit with lightning in last place is like the Great Depression