But against this apparent backdrop of economic prosperity and welcome social change were more ominous changes. The distributions of income and wealth became less equal. Farmers burdened by excessive debt lost their farms. Banks failed. Consumers financed their new cars and electrical appliances by taking on unprecedented levels of debt. Racial strife increased. Anti-immigrant fervor swept the nation. And of course, the 1920s served as prelude to the Great Depression which began as the decade concluded. It was, in short, a contradictory time.