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While European Shares Slide, British PM Pledges to Borrow Out of Crisis


Taking their lead from Asia, the European markets are kicking off the week in another gloomy mood. Meanwhile, Britain's prime minister has been defending his plans to increase government borrowing in an effort to combat the economic downturn. For VOA, Tom Rivers in London reports.

Worries about a looming global recession are again dragging European shares down. This comes on the back of big losses in Asia with Japan's Nikkei dropping 6.4 percent to a 26-year low while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index tumbled nearly 13 percent.

Among the biggest losers, the mining, energy and banking sectors.

With those recessionary storm clouds building, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in London he plans to boost government spending during this time of economic downturn.

"Even in these difficult times, let me say the investment that is necessary for the future will continue," he said. "The long-term decisions that require investment that have to be made are being made and will be upheld because that is the only way that we can benefit from what is as I have described, the new global age."

While not everyone agrees with Mr. Brown, he says it is the right medicine to bring about recovery and he adds, for those countries that take the correct measures now, the long-term picture will look good.

"If we are able to solve these problems, then I believe the prospects for Britain and for countries that have dynamism and talent and able to produce the new products and the new goods and services that the world wants, the prospects are very good indeed," he said. "The world economy, whichever way we look at it, will double in the next 20 years."

As he sees it, Brown says opportunities will also double over that time span and he predicts that by then one billion more people around the world will join the ranks of the middle class.

But there will be more short-term pain before any kind of a turn around can even begin. The British leader and the Governor of the Bank of England predict the next quarter's figures will again show economic contraction. That would be the second-consecutive quarter of negative growth, and by definition Britain will be in a recession.