Schreiner, Volksbank: Only time will solve the shattering confidence between banks

The weakening of financial crisis’ impact in Romania would depend heavily upon the new government, whether it will or not take the necessary proactive measures to shore up the economy and the domestic banking system. Moreover, the lack of confidence between banks will be restored in time, through more transparency between banks, said Gerald Schreiner, chairman of Volksbank Romania, in an interview for Wall-Street.

“The lack of confidence will be healed by time only. The shattering confidence must be absorbed back by safety, and this is why we have to work in a more professional and transparent environment. There is nothing to fear, if you have nothing to hide”, said the chairman of Volksbank.

In Austria, Belgium and Holland, large banks were shored up by the State, by pumping liquidities in their capital. “They had to make public their bookkeeping sheets, which means that many risks are now public, and banks more transparent; this is how the confidence will be restored”, Schreiner explained.

Fundamentally, the crisis changes attitudes, mentalities and business patterns. “Generally speaking, there is a cleaning of over-priced markets that now have to face with more realistic scenarios. However, a crisis remains a negative element, as it drains the entire economy and society. People lose their possessions, savings and even jobs”, Schreiner added.

From a personal standpoint, Schreiner said the positive effect of the crisis was the fact that an economic downturn had taught him that nothing was the way he had thought it would be and you always need to adjust to market demands without becoming indifferent or counting on the success you enjoyed in the past.

The crisis and its impacts on Romania will depend upon the measures that the new Government will prompt. “There are many good ideas, discussed by campaigning politicians and even if there will be a proactive approach and if Romania will implement a merely 60% of these activities (in agriculture, and infrastructure) there are still problems unresolved. However, we will probably see a 3-3.5% growth of GDP, which is good compared to other European countries that wait for the recession to outbreak”, said the chairman of Volksbank.

He added that the impact of the crisis had been more visible in the growth rate of loans granted by the banks, which slid to 15-10% from 40%.

Despite the shaky economic ground, Volksbank Romania said it would not change its strategy which was based on long-term loans (3 to 10 years).

“We are among first banks to lower interests for 20,000 loans (19,200 mortgage loans) in euro, whose interests were scaled up in November 2007. Although the financing cost is high due to inter-bank market that lifted margins, we have promised we would cut interests, and now we will do so. This is a proof for the market that although we have no contract-based duty, we have made a promise and we intend on fulfilling it”, Schreiner said.

The lending requirements will soon relax, and interests will decrease, Schreiner thinks.

Lending products in domestic currency will be the breakthroughs of this year. “The measures taken by the Government and by the National Bank of Romania to cut the required reserve ratio will have a positive impact. Relaxing the lending requirements will be an incentive for lending activity in local currency”, Volksbank’s representative added.

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