EBF’s Mustier warns: 'We cannot avoid a financial crisis'
UniCredit chief is confident that if banks focus on protecting employees, clients and capital, they can play a crucial role in the economic rescue.
Jean Pierre Mustier, chief executive of UniCredit and chairman of the European Banking Federation, has led the industry’s support for the European Central Bank’s request last Friday that banks should suspend dividends and share buybacks until at least October.
Mustier – speaking to Euromoney earlier this week – gives a stark warning to those who do not support the measure. “We cannot avoid a financial crisis, although it is too early to say in what form,” he says. “There will be a lot of SMEs with problems and the cost of risk of banks will increase.”
New programmes of state guaranteed loans – worth hundreds of billions of euros in some countries – could reduce the increase of banks’ loan loss provisions by two thirds. Despite this, he emphasizes that “we need to plan and act as if the worst will happen, and if it doesn’t, it will be good news.”
For the moment, front and centre of everyone’s mind is the humanitarian tragedy – and UniCredit, based in Milan, is at its core – as even advanced health systems such as Lombardy’s are proving incapable of handling the number of people needing care.