“Europe is extremely sick and must start dealing with its problems extremely quickly, or else there may be an accident,” said David Folkerts-Landau, according to the newspaper.
“I’m no doomsday prophet, I am a realist,” the economist said.
With Italian banks weighed down by €360bn of soured loans, the government has been sounding out regulators on ways to shore up lenders amid a renewed selloff after Britain voted to leave the EU.
Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, a former member of the ECB’s executive board who now chairs Societe Generale, said last Wednesday that Italy’s banking crisis could spread to the rest of Europe.
He said the rules limiting state aid to lenders should be reconsidered to prevent greater upheaval.
“I do not expect a second financial crisis like in 2008,” Mr Folkerts-Landau said, according to Welt.
“The banks are much more stable today and have more equity. What we face this time is a slow, long downward spiral,” he said.
The Bloomberg Europe 500 Banks and Financial Services Index has tumbled 33% this year, falling to the lowest level in more than seven years last week.
Deutsche Bank’s shares have fallen 48% in 2016.
Mr Folkerts-Landau, however, said he had recently bought 100,000 Deutsche Bank shares and was optimistic about the outlook for his employer.
BlackRock vice chairman Philipp Hildebrand said earlier this month the European Commission should allow governments to take temporary equity stakes in their banks, similar to what the US did with its Troubled Asset Relief Program during the 2008 crisis.
Italy’s government has been in conflict with Berlin over the best ways to recapitalise its lenders.