A 375-Year-Old French Bank Forgives Debts of Paris’ Poorest
"I'm very happy, it's the first time I get something for nothing,"
- Geneviève, Recipient
Just as France was being chastised for excessive national borrowing with a sovereign debt downgrade, thousands of lucky French people had their financial obligations forgiven after the country's oldest bank decided to simply wipe their slate clean.
Granted, it's a small slate. The 3,500 clients who benefitted from the bank’s largesse had debts of 150 euros or less (about $190) with the Crédit Municipal de Paris, also known as the "Mont-de-piété," the bank of the poor, which has for centuries allowed the needy to get loans against their valuables—a kind of ethical pawnshop, or the original microlender. The small kindness was welcome for many.