Downturn 'Worst for 100 Years': UK Minister

Brown ally says current crisis surpasses Great Depression
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2009 5:53 AM CST
Gordon Brown and Ed Balls at a school visit in London. The prime minister's ally called the current economic downturn the worst in a century.   (AP Photo/Dylan Martinez, Pool)
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(Newser) – The current economic crisis will be the worst in a century, surpassing even the Great Depression, according to Gordon Brown's closest political ally. Ed Balls, a minister sometimes tipped as a future British leader, said that the downturn would be "more extreme and more serious than that of the 1930s." Balls' office has tried to downplay the remarks, which have been seized upon by political opponents and the media.

His comment comes days after Brown, in an apparent slip of the tongue, spoke of a British "depression" and not recession. Brown's spokesman insisted that Balls was only talking about the financial sector, not the real economy, but one political opponent mocked Balls for painting "this doom-laden picture of Armageddon." After enjoying a poll bounce for Brown's handling of the crisis, Labour has slipped again and is now 14 points behind the Tories.