• Europe: "Europe is taking highly relevant steps to overcome the problems associated with the design and operation of the Union"
  • Spain: "We face an opportunity to build a new Spain, economically more powerful and sustainable, and to recover our rightful position"
  • Errors with savings banks: "If we want to stop this happening again we must explain what occurred to the Spanish public and place the blame on those responsible — without exceptions"
  • BBVA: "We are overcoming this crisis without public aid, without costing the public a single euro and without selling strategic assets"

BBVA chairman Francisco González believes the "decisive way in which the European Central Bank (ECB) recently backed the stability of the euro-zone's financial markets, without limit, marks the beginning of the end of this crisis." At a conference organized by the ABC-Deloitte Forum in Madrid today he was optimistic: "Those who are betting against Europe and the euro are mistaken."

The European and Spanish economic situation occupied much of the chairman's address. Mr. González said Europe is taking highly relevant steps to overcome the problems associated with the design and operation of the EU. He specifically referred to a credible and irreversible road map for achieving greater fiscal, financial and economic integration.

Progress is slow but this is a wonderful opportunity to shape a new Europe, he said. He believes the "firm way in which the European Central Bank (ECB) recently backed the stability of the euro-zone's financial markets, without limit, marks the beginning of the end of this crisis."

Furthermore Mr. González said recent events showed that "those betting against Europe and the euro are mistaken."
He was also positive about Spain because it is a very solvent country with great economic potential and because the government enjoys widespread support. In his opinion "this government has done much in a short period of time, combining fiscal austerity with reforms that foster growth."

"We face an opportunity to build a new Spain, economically more powerful and sustainable. It's an opportunity for Spain to recover its rightful position," he added.

BBVA's chairman next turned his attention to the present situation of the Spanish financial system. He pointed out that it is dominated by banks that are extremely sound. Only a small part of the system accounts for almost all the capital requirements. For this reason he feels it is important to treat banks according to their individual merits. Those that are not viable should disappear.
His views on the origin of the crisis include deficient regulation and supervision of the system as well as imprudent or fraudulent behavior at many old savings banks. "A company that is not managed along business lines, that has feeble corporate governance and defective control systems will pay the consequences," he suggested.  "If we want to stop this from happening again we must explain what occurred to the Spanish public and place the blame on those responsible, without exceptions. We need more principles and business ethics," he added.

He pointed to the importance of integrity, transparency and prudence at BBVA. Mr. González emphasized that such principles explain why the bank is today stronger than ever, overcoming the crisis without public aid, without costing the public a single euro and without selling strategic assets in any of its high-potential markets.

On the future of the financial industry he says that to be competitive a bank must build a bridge between the physical and digital worlds, create a 21st century customer experience, transform its distribution models and generate new content with new products and services that leverage customer knowledge. In this regard he pointed out that BBVA is already an industry leader in innovation and technology with one of the most advanced banking platforms in the world. In 2011 the BBVA Group spent 44% of its total investments on innovative systems, compared to the European sector average of just 30%.