Italian banks may soon accept high-end prosciutto and wine as collateral for loans. The Italian agriculture minister is into the idea. Apparently, it's not as far-fetched as it sounds. From The Guardian:
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.
Legs of cured ham, or prosciutto crudo, weighing about 10kg, can sell for hundreds of euros after months of curing in controlled conditions, while bottles of Brunello di Montalcino are regularly snapped up for the same amount.
"We may start off with accepting wine as collateral, but I would prefer the Italian banking association to launch an industry-wide scheme which involves a range of products," said Zonin. "This will help producers in times of crisis as well as when the economy picks up."