Whether they’re students or businesses, lots of people have to take out loans from the bank. For cheese farmers, there’s a bank in Italy that will literally accept *cheese* as collateral for loans. This is the story of three men and millions of dollars worth of that proverbial cheddar.
The vaults of the regional bank Credito Emiliano hold a pungent gold prized by gourmands around the world — 17,000 tons of parmesan cheese.
The bank accepts parmesan as collateral for loans, helping it to keep financing cheese makers in northern Italy even during the worst recession since World War II. Credito Emiliano’s two climate-controlled warehouses hold about 440,000 wheels worth €132 million, or $187.5 million.
Once the bank accepts cheese as collateral it oversees the aging process, which includes turning the wheels several times a week and checking periodically for cheeses that have gone soft.