According to the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, the Great Depression was a worldwide occurrence that affected the majority of market-oriented countries, in particular those that were in adherence to the gold standard. The U.S. stock market crash of 1929 precipitated the worldwide Great Depression.
World trade spiraled downward following the U.S. stock market crash, with the depression spreading from country to country and leading to declining levels of imports. During the Great Depression, the U.S. unemployment rate reached 25 percent, while U.K. and German unemployment rates reached 16 percent and 30 percent, respectively. Recovery was very slow, worsening the situation and prolonging the depression.