BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Former President Jimmy Carter said on Friday the "atrocious economic policies" of the Bush administration had caused the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Carter told reporters on a stopover in Brussels that "profligate spending," massive borrowing and dramatic tax cuts since President George W. Bush took office in 2001 were behind the market turmoil and economic crisis.
"I think it's because of the atrocious economic policies of the Bush administration," said the 84-year-old Democrat, who served in the White House from 1977-1981 during a period of high inflation and energy crisis.
Whoever wins next month's U.S. presidential election would inherit economic problems that would force them to postpone implementing some of their proposed reforms, he said.
"The economic situation is an entrenched problem. It is going to take years to correct what has been done economically," Carter said, adding he hoped Democrat Barrack Obama would win and immediately improve Washington's image in the world.
Eight years ago, the United States had a budget surplus, low inflation and a stable, strong economy, he said.
Carter said he was astonished that the United States now owed China "in the neighborhood of $1 trillion."
Deregulation and what he called a withdrawal of supervision of Wall Street had encouraged irresponsible elements in the U.S. financial system, enabling banks to borrow 30 times their value.
Carter was on his way back from a private peace mission to Cyprus with fellow elder statesmen Lakhdar Brahimi of Algeria and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, intended to give a push to talks between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders on a settlement to reunite the divided island.
Reporting by Paul Taylor; editing by Sami Aboudi