Speaking at the annual Technology, Entertainment, Design 2009 conference in California last night, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates predicted that the US economy would suffer another three to four "very tough" years.
Despite the hardships of the economic crisis, however, Gates called on world governments to continue investing in sectors such as education and healthcare.
"We're going through a period ... where a 50-year credit expansion has moved to contraction," said Gates. "You're going to have a number of years where aggregate demand is low."
Gates, the richest person in the US for 15 years running, also spoke about how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was continuing to pour resources into health issues, especially malaria.
In a stunt which elicited surprise from the crowd, Gates released a jar full of mosquitoes inside the conference hall to draw attention to the third world's battle against the disease. "Not only poor people should experience this," he said.
The Foundation has spent $3.3bn (£2.2bn), more than five per cent of its assets, each year on AIDS care, malaria research and other health-related programmes.
Gates, who retired from Microsoft in June 2008, noted that the Foundation intended to increase that spending to $3.8bn (£2.6bn), or seven per cent of assets, this year.
According to Gates, whose Foundation is actively working on a malaria vaccination, the disease could be totally eradicated within the next 20 years.
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