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Thursday, February 12, 2009 4:09 AM

Worst Recession In 100 Years

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In the UK, Gordon Brown's closest ally says 'This is the worst recession for over 100 years'.

Ed Balls, the PM's closest ally, warns that downturn is ferocious and says impact will last 15 years.

In an extraordinary admission about the severity of the economic downturn, Ed Balls even predicted that its effects would still be felt 15 years from now. The Schools Secretary's comments carry added weight because he is a former chief economic adviser to the Treasury and regarded as one of the Prime Ministers's closest allies.

Mr Balls said yesterday: "The reality is that this is becoming the most serious global recession for, I'm sure, over 100 years, as it will turn out."

He warned that events worldwide were moving at a "speed, pace and ferocity which none of us have seen before" and banks were losing cash on a "scale that nobody believed possible".

The minister stunned his audience at a Labour conference in Yorkshire by forecasting that times could be tougher than in the depression of the 1930s, when male unemployment in some cities reached 70 per cent. He also appeared to hint that the recession could play into the hands of the far right.

"The economy is going to define our politics in this region and in Britain in the next year, the next five years, the next 10 and even the next 15 years," Mr Balls said. "These are seismic events that are going to change the political landscape. I think this is a financial crisis more extreme and more serious than that of the 1930s, and we all remember how the politics of that era were shaped by the economy."

Philip Hammond, the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said Mr Balls's predictions were "a staggering and very worrying admission from a cabinet minister and Gordon Brown's closest ally in the Treasury over the past 10 years". He added: "We are being told that not only are we facing the worst recession in 100 years, but that it will last for over a decade – far longer than Treasury forecasts predict."
European bank bail-out could push EU into crisis

A Telegraph headline once read "European banks may need 16.3 trillion bailout" (note the link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/financialcrisis/4590512/European-banks-may-need-16.3-trillion-bail-out-EC-dcoument-warns.html), but it has since been changed to European bank bail-out could push EU into crisis although the link remains the same. Let's take a look.
A bail-out of the toxic assets held by European banks' could plunge the European Union into crisis, according to a confidential Brussels document.

“Estimates of total expected asset write-downs suggest that the budgetary costs – actual and contingent - of asset relief could be very large both in absolute terms and relative to GDP in member states,” the EC document, seen by The Daily Telegraph, cautioned.

"It is essential that government support through asset relief should not be on a scale that raises concern about over-indebtedness or financing problems.”

The secret 17-page paper was discussed by finance ministers, including the Chancellor Alistair Darling on Tuesday.

National leaders and EU officials share fears that a second bank bail-out in Europe will raise government borrowing at a time when investors - particularly those who lend money to European governments - have growing doubts over the ability of countries such as Spain, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Britain to pay it back.

The Commission figure is significant because of the role EU officials will play in devising rules to evaluate “toxic” bank assets later this month. New moves to bail out banks will be discussed at an emergency EU summit at the end of February. The EU is deeply worried at widening spreads on bonds sold by different European countries.
Was $16.3 trillion a typo? The reference is now gone.

In Washington, the amount of certainty you have is in reverse proportion to how stubborn you are and how angry you get: John Oliiver

"MK" who sent a link to the video pointed out a clip towards the end.

John Stewart: "It sounds like no matter what I say, no matter what we do, you're saying...we lose."

Oliver: "Exactly!"

"MK" Wrote ... I almost jumped out of my chair. It's your Economic Zugzwang theory entering the Zeitgeist via John Stewart.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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