MADRID (AFP) – The global economic crisis could lead to dangerous social upheaval if certain steps are not taken, World Bank chief Robert Zoellick warned in an interview Sunday.
“If we do no take measures, there is a risk of a serious human and social crisis with very serious political implications. The stimulus measures could be the decisive factors,” Zoellick told the Spanish daily El Pais.
“What began with a big financial crisis and has become a profound economic crisis is drifting today towards a crisis of unemployment.”
Zoellick suggested creating the infrastructure to get people back to work was a good way to combine short-term unemployment challenges with a longer-term strategy to beat the recession.
“In my opinion, in this context, nobody really knows what is going to happen and the best one can do is be ready for any eventuality.”
Zoellick gave a geographical run-down that showed how different regions have been affected by the crisis.
“Latin America has remained reasonably stable, even if Mexico and Central America are under pressure because they rely a lot on the North American market.
“Eastern Europe is in a tricky situation, particularly the Baltic countries like Romania,” said Zoellick.
The American World Bank chief warned that protectionism and private debt in the developing world were further dangers that could exacerbate the current economic crisis.
“There is also what I call the ‘X-factor’, that one can not foresee, such as the (swine) flu,” he said.
The economic recovery “will be weak for a prolonged period” and “unemployment will continue to rise,” he warned, stressing that while another Great Depression was not likely, it was at least a possibility.