We're not complacent on economy, says Brown

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Indy Politics

Gordon Brown insisted today that he was "never complacent" about the economy after one of his key ministers sparked controversy by claiming that she had seen the "green shoots of recovery".

The comments by Business Minister Baroness Vadera yesterday, a day when thousands more jobs went to the wall, triggered a bitter political row over the Government's response to the economic crisis.

At a news conference today in Berlin, where he was holding talks with German chancellor Angela Merkel on the economic situation, Mr Brown sought to defuse the controversy.

He insisted that the Government had already taken a series of measures to ease the crisis.

"We are vigilant in every respect about the economy, never complacent," he said.

"We have further announcements to make that show that in every area where there are problems that people feel in their everyday lives, where real help is needed for businesses and families, we will not stand by on the other side. We will be ready to help."

With US President-elect Barack Obama due to take office next week, Mr Brown called for a "reinvigorated" transatlantic alliance between Europe and America to tackle the global recession.

He welcomed Mr Obama's promised measures to cut taxes and boost spending in an effort to revitalise the struggling US economy.

"The scale of global challenges that we face mean that in 2009, I believe we must also strengthen the transatlantic alliance for this new age and for new purposes," the Prime Minister said.

"A reinvigorated transatlantic alliance, Europe working with America for the global age, what we can do together and particularly what we can achieve in partnership on stimulating the economy, will be greater than any single country or continent can achieve on its own."

Mr Brown said that after international efforts to recapitalise the banks and provide a "fiscal stimulus" to the global economy, the next step was to secure the reopening of frozen financial markets.

He said the action would be needed to deal with the so-called "toxic" or "impaired" assets held by the banks as a result of the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market in the US.

"We must secure the widest possible transparency and the necessary renewal of trust in the banking system. That is an essential element of rebuilding the global financial system," he said.

"It will also require us to take action on impaired assets in the banking system and it will mean that we will have to have new standards of surveillance and supervision for global financial institutions."

His comments came as fears of further losses in the banking sector helped to drive down stock markets around the world.

Mr Brown said that while governments were able to take action to help small and medium companies in their own countries, the largest companies needed access to international capital.

"This is not just helping the financial markets, this is about jobs and securing growth for the future," he said.

Mr Brown's meeting with Mrs Merkel was intended to help lay the ground for the G20 summit of leading economies in London in April. The Prime Minister held similar talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy last night in Paris.