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Major European Banks Blame U.S. Economy

Two of Europe's biggest banks are reporting big losses related to the subprime mortgage crisis in the United States.

The Swiss bank UBS announced write-downs of $19 billion so far this year in addition to the $18.4 billion it wrote off last year. This makes UBS the European bank most damaged by the U.S. subprime crisis.

Bank officials said they plan to create a new business to handle the bank's U.S. property assets, which are now reportedly close to being worthless. They explained this would permit the bank to focus on strengthening its core operations.

Losses were also reported by Germany's biggest bank. Deutsche Bank said it expects a first quarter write off of $3.9 billion, saying "conditions have become significantly more challenging during the last few weeks."

Madeleine Brand talks to Adam Davidson about what the losses mean for the European markets.

From NPR and wire reports

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