Text Block (216)

Warren G. Harding's Pro-Business "Normalcy"


Harding's Treasury Secretary, financier Andrew Mellon, cut income tax rates for the wealthiest Americans from 73% to 25%. The capital thus liberated fueled the skyrocketing stock market and helped the Jay Gatsbys of the world to achieve an unprecedented level of material affluence, but it also exacerbated the maldistribution of wealth between rich and poor—by 1929, the richest one-tenth of one percent of Americans owned as much wealth as the bottom 42%9—and may have created an unsustainable financial bubble that led directly to the Great Depression.