British Prime Minister: U.K., U.S. Recession Likely

Prime Minister Gordon Brown acknowledged Wednesday that the world economic downturn is likely to cause a recession in the United Kingdom, the U.S and other countries.

LONDON (AP) -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that the world economic downturn is likely to cause a recession in the United Kingdom, the U.S and other countries.

Brown's comments during his weekly question-and-answer session at the House of Commons followed a warning Tuesday from Bank of England Governor Mervyn King that Britain is probably entering a recession as a result of a squeeze on pay, a lack of available credit and a likely prolonged slowdown in domestic demand.

Britain's Office for National Statistics is expected to report formally on Friday that the U.K. economy shrank for the first time since 1992 during the July to September quarter.

Two consecutive quarters -- or six months -- of negative growth is the usual definition of a recession.

Accounting firm Ernst & Young published a report Monday arguing that Britain has been in a recession since July, and predicting the country won't see economic growth again until 2010.

Economists at Swiss bank UBS AG said Wednesday that Britain and the United States will be hardest hit by a global recession, but they predict it will last only into the middle of next year.

Britain's economy is likely to lose around 1.4 percent of gross domestic product, the UBS AG report said.

"Having taken action on the banking system, we must now take action on the global financial recession which is likely to cause recession in America, France, Italy, Germany, Japan and -- because no country can insulate itself from it -- Britain too," Brown said.

Main opposition Conservative Party leader David Cameron said Brown must shoulder some blame for Britain's downturn. "He claimed the credit in the boom, why won't he take responsibility in the bust?" Cameron asked.

Addressing business leaders in the northern England city of Leeds on Tuesday, King also used the word recession for the first time in reference to Britain's economic difficulties.

Many central bank governors around the world have avoided the word, fearing they could further undermine consumer confidence.

Both Britain's housing market and manufacturing industry have shown signs of suffering from the slowdown, while the country's jobless total has risen sharply.

Britain's unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent in the three months to August compared with 5.2 percent in the previous three months, the Office for National Statistics recently said. A total of 1.79 million Britons are unemployed, it said.

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