Unemployment is at nearly 2.5 million, and the world cannot agree on a solution to global poverty, climate change and the banking system – but Gordon Brown has sought to reassure Britain he is in control with a series of "fireside chats" inspired by Franklin D Roosevelt.
The PM has recast himself in the mould of the Great Depression-era president who delivered informal radio broadcasts when US unemployment was at its highest. As if those parallels were not enough, FDR also tried to explain the crisis triggered by the 1929 Wall Street crash and his massive works programme, the New Deal.
Mr Brown's first "fireside chat" broadcast – in the 21st-century medium of a podcast – yesterday focused on the coming week's key events, including the United Nations General Assembly in New York and the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh.
Downing Street sources explicitly compared the move to FDR's "fireside chats". But eyebrows were raised in Westminster that the broadcasts were audio – so listeners would have no idea whether Mr Brown was sitting by the fireplace or not. It follows Mr Brown's performance on YouTube earlier this year which was ridiculed by Hazel Blears, the then Communities Secretary.
Mr Brown said: "There are many pressing issues facing the world as we enter the most testing time for international co-operation. The meetings at both the UN and G20 are the chance to secure a way forward on these five challenges. People are still losing their jobs, their homes and – in some cases – their hope. And we must not fail them.
"Leadership, vision and courage are required. It will not be easy. Tough negotiations lie ahead. But be clear – my priorities will be ensuring that people's jobs are protected and created, that the recovery happens and that we build a safer, fairer and greener Britain."