Chilean economics lesson embarrasses UK’s Brown

SANTIAGO, (Reuters) – Chile’s President Michelle  Bachelet unwittingly embarrassed British Prime Minister Gordon  Brown yesterday when she said Chile had put aside money during  good economic times to help it through the downturn.

Standing next to Bachelet at a news conference in Santiago,  Brown heard Bachelet extol economic policies that Brown’s  Conservative opponents at home have repeatedly said he should  have followed before the global financial crisis.

“I would say that because of our decision during … the  good times in copper prices, we decided to save some of the  money for the bad times and I would say that policy today is  producing good results,” Bachelet said in English.

Brown has pumped extra money into the British economy to  help counteract the downturn. But the Conservatives say his  maneuvering room is limited because he failed to “fix the roof”  when the sun shone.

“Gordon Brown is getting lessons from the Latin Americans  about sound public finances. You couldn’t make it up,” said  Conservative finance spokesman George Osborne.

“The president of Chile is right to point out, as we have  done, that countries that put aside money in the good years are  the ones that can afford to spend that money now without adding  recklessly to national debt.”

Britain went into the downturn with a budget deficit that  is now swelling rapidly.

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