When President Barack Obama took office in early 2009, the nation's economy was on its knees. More than 11 million Americans were without work -- and the number would only climb. The financial system was on the brink of collapse. The housing market was in turmoil. Banks were failing every week.
In Merced, a growing homeless camp on the edge of town, an unemployment rate hovering around 20 percent and soaring foreclosures were signs of the times. Things were not looking good.
Almost 80 years earlier, another president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, took office in early 1933 at the height of a depression far more dire than today’s. Like now, the Roosevelt administration faced an uphill battle to restore a very sick economy. At the time, 14 million Americans were without work, and the nation’s population was half what it is today. Banks were failing at an alarming rate. Soup kitchens and "Hoovervilles" were common sites.
Even the local similarities to today are striking.