Friday, September 16, 2011

Gordon Brown fears euro crisis worse than Lehman as 1930s beckon

Gordon Brown says the eurozone crisis will not begin to be resolved until government realise is "a banking problem and a growth problem". Photo: AP

Gordon Brown has warned that Europe's fast-escalating crisis is now more dangerous than the Lehman Brothers disaster three years ago, threatening to tip the West into a 1930s-style slump unless global leaders work together to take dramatic action.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Dalian, China

2:18PM BST 16 Sep 2011

"The euro can't survive in its present form and will have to be reformed drastically," he told a mostly-Chinese audience at the World Economic Forum in Dalian.

The former Prime Minister said EMU's malaise is at root a banking crisis, not a debt crisis. "The European banks as a whole are grossly under-capitalised: they have liabilities far in excess of American banks. We have now got the inter-play with sovereign debt because we socialised the liabilities," he said.

"It has morphed into a sovereign debt crisis, and is more serious than 2008 because governments then could intervene to sort of out banks. Now both banks and governments have problems," he said.

"You cannot begin to solve this unless you realise that it is a banking problem and a growth problem, as well as being a fiscal problem. You have to take co-ordinated action in all three areas," Mr Brown said, echoing the views of the International Monetary Fund.

He added that the €440bn (£385bn) European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) bail-out fund will need "substantially more resources" to cope, with an expanded role for the IMF to shore up the whole EMU system. "People do not believe that Greece can pull through without a default," he said.

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