Loan Collateral, Italian Style : Planet Money An Italian bank chairman has proposed that banks accept high-end prosciutto and wine as collateral for loans. It's not a radical idea -- they already do it with wheels of Parmesan.
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Loan Collateral, Italian Style

A storeroom containing about 2000 wheels of Parmesan cheese in Parma, Italy. cosmos_72/Flickr hide caption

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Twitter pal @snorerot13 sends this delicious economics story from the Guardian. Gianni Zonin, an Italian bank chairman and wine producer, is proposing that banks accept expensive wines and legs of prosciutto as collateral on loans to producers. The quintessentially Italian notion even has the support of Luca Zaia, the Italian agriculture minister. Here's a bit:

"We've done it with cheese, why not with prosciutto and good wines like Brunello di Montalcino and chianti classico?" said Gianni Zonin, chairman of the Banca Popolare di Vicenza and head of wine producer Zonin.

The Italian bank Credito Emiliano has long stored hundreds of thousands of parmesan wheels, worth about 300 euros each, in warehouses as collateral while they age.

Since the bank can sell the cheese if creditors default, it can afford to offer low interest rates to an industry which is suffering from recession and supermarket discounting.

the sort of financial innovation I can get behind. Though that might only be because I've always wanted to walk into a massive bank vault filled with cheese, wine and ham.