Weekend Edition: Collateral

September 15, 2009 by Guest Contribution

Cheese-loan collateral

By W.L.:

No I’m not talking about Tom Cruise’s movie, but the bank Credito Emilainos’s temperature controlled vault. Why the vault is temperature controlled, you may ask? Because instead of gold bars or lots of great smelling cash, they’re holding parmesan cheese. That’s right, they don’t just hold any kind of cheese: Parmigiano Reggiano.

Surprisingly the bank has been accepting parmesan cheese as collateral for loans since WWII, more specifically 1953. Originally the banks were thinking of taking prosciutto or olive oil as collateral, they hold art from time to time, but the cheese outdid both in ease of storage and maintenance. Basically, the bank offers loans up to 24 months, which is the time it takes parmesan cheese to age. The loan amount is equal to up to 80 percent of the market value of the cheese.

“Parmesan cheese has been used for financial operations since the Middle Ages,” said Leo Bertozzi, head of the Parmigiano-Reggiano Producers’ Association. “This is both due to its value, since each compact wheel holds the equivalent of 550 liters of milk, and the fact that aging takes years, making financing necessary until the product can be sold.” (NY Times link)

The vault is now estimated to be worth $187.5 million, made up of 440,000 wheels of cheese.  Each wheel weighs 80 kilograms and is worth around €300. So precious they are that after being checked upon for a year they are branded with the parmigiano-reggiano logo and serial numbers and tags for security reasons.

This system might seem meagre when comparing it with other bank activities (it accounts for 1% of revenues), but it’s protecting the heritage and image of the region which is most important to them. That and the fact that it’s such a low risk investment, if the loan is not given back, the cheese is sold. Bada-bing, badda-boom.

*The article is based on a NY Times article. You can read it here.

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13 Responses to “Weekend Edition: Collateral”

  1. farah says:

    wow that was interesting!


  2. Saud says:

    great post!
    haha I never thought cheese can be used for purposes other than eating


  3. Adel says:

    Very intriguing!

    I guess Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is way better than money. You can’t PRINT cheese.


    Saud Reply:

    it’s a safe investment ;)


  4. W.L. says:

    Thanks for the feedback! I’d hoped it would be as interesting to you as it was to me.


  5. AAA+ says:

    Wow cheese as collateral, that way you can have your cheese and eat it too

    good article


  6. AD says:

    lol nice


  7. [...] at Russian banks! On September 15, guest contributor W.L. wrote an intriguing article about Parmesan cheese used as collateral in Italy. Although plausible, it was comprehensible. But pigs? Lingerie? That is way above and [...]

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