Clinton: 10 years to get out of recession, housing crisis

Bill Clinton
President Bill Clinton talks to CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley June 5, 2012 in New York.

Updated 8 p.m. ET

(CBS News) The U.S. is in the midst of an economic recovery that history suggests will take 10 years, former President Bill Clinton said in an interview Tuesday with CBS News.

"Over the last 500 years, whenever there's a financial system collapse, it takes 5-10 years to return to full employment. And if you have a financial collapse and a real estate collapse, it's almost always out there at 10 years," Mr. Clinton said. "So what our government has to do, and our communities and states have to do, is to try to beat that record."

Mr. Clinton, who has strongly backed President Obama and is campaigning for his re-election, suggested that Mr. Obama's economic policies are working and that he deserves a chance to continue.

"I believe we can beat that," Mr. Clinton said. "I just don't think we can do it in four years."

Watch the excerpt below and see more of the interview above from the CBS Evening News:

The former president spoke to CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley about a wide range of issues, including the urgency of solving the European debt crisis. Mr. Clinton said Americans should be "quite concerned" about the financial crisis in Europe.

"The Euro zone is a very big economy. We sell a lot of our exports there. We depend on them to supply some essential things for our economy," he said. "But our biggest exposure is in having some kind of really bad consequence there... just when we're trying to come out of this. In the last 27 months, in spite of the last job report being somewhat disappointing, we've created 4.3 million private sector jobs in the American economy. That's about the same per month as we did in the eight years I was president."

The former president then compared the U.S. economy to the situation in Europe, acknowledging that there have been 14 million laid off during the Great Recession, but touting his support for U.S. actions.

"We are generally thought to be doing better than the Europeans because we went for growth first with a long-term debt reduction plan and they tried to do, in the beginning, too much austerity, which led to higher unemployment and actually increased the government deficits," he said. "So I'm encouraged, actually, by the signals that the E.U. is sending us."

Mr. Clinton supported the idea of European bonds backed by the stronger economies on the continent as one solution to stabilize the economies and boost investor confidence.

"If they could agree to issue these Euro bonds, which could be issued at fairly low interest rates if the Germans and the French and others back them," he said. "If they did that, you could see some growth coming back in and I think investor confidence would grow up... And I think you'd see more investment in the United States too."

But he also called for urgency, painting the European crisis as dire, both for Europe and for the United States.

"It's sort of like a cloud in the background that's holding us back," Mr. Clinton said. "I don't think they have a lot of time. I think, you know, one or two months... I'd try to do it yesterday if I were in their position."