Part of complete coverage on
Parisians pawn furs, antiques to make ends meet
May 11, 2012 -- Updated 1051 GMT (1851 HKT)
- Some Parisians using their belongings as security against loans
- Credit Municipal has operated as pawn brokers since the 17th century
- Around 40% more people pawning objects at Credit Municipal in last five years
Paris (CNN) -- While the French electorate has put its faith in a new president to turn around the country's economic fortunes, some cash-strapped Parisians are turning to time-honored methods to make ends meet.
Nicole Rocher is among the crowds of Parisians that line up daily up to pawn their wares at the famous Credit Municipal, which has operated in the city since the 17th century. She is hoping to offload some of her possessions, including furs and a clock, for cash to boost her dwindling retirement fund.
"We are going through a difficult time," says Rocher. "My husband and I are retired so there are periods which are sometimes hard and we need to pay the rent."
Parisians have been going to Credit Municipal for centuries to take out low-cost loans against their belongings to make ends meet. They bring anything with a minimum value of €30 as security against a 12-month loan equal to half the object's value.
Tough economic times have seen around 40% more people turning up here in the last five years -- 700 people a day, compared to 550 a year ago.
We are quite a good barometer of the economy and we are slightly ahead of it.
Bernard Candiard, director Credit Municipal
"We are quite a good barometer of the economy and we are slightly ahead of it, because our 30% increase in trade between 2007 and 2008 was before the crisis," says Credit Municipal director Bernard Candiard. "So the crisis began with us four months before it happened to the markets."
Credit Municipal was set up as an alternative to moneylenders demanding interest rates of between 100% and 300%. Today, clients pay between 4% and 9% interest and can extend the loan as long as they wish. The average loan is €1,000.
Nine out of 10 people who come here do recuperate the objects they have pawned. But in the economic downturn it is taking them twice as long to do that -- around two years. If they can't pay back the loans the objects they have brought in are sold at auction.
If anything goes for a profit, the original owner pockets the takings after commission and administrative costs.
Rocher's fur was rejected, but she cashed in on the clock. She says it's not what she hoped for, but it is something -- and something that the oldest financial institution in town can do to help down-on-their-luck Parisians through these tough economic times.
Part of complete coverage on
January 16, 2014 -- Updated 1631 GMT (0031 HKT)
Marketplace Europe visits Latvia to see how the Baltic country has made its transition to the Euro from the Lat.
January 16, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
CNN's Nina Dos Santos visits Latvia to speak to the country's outgoing Prime Minister and the prospects for the eurozone's 18th member.
January 2, 2014 -- Updated 1640 GMT (0040 HKT)
Malta is the gateway to Europe and on the frontline of the immigration flows. Isa Soares reports from a detention center on the Mediterranean island.
January 2, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
CNN's Isa Soares speaks with people on the streets of Valletta who say their country can't cope with more migrants from Africa and the Middle East.
January 9, 2014 -- Updated 1006 GMT (1806 HKT)
Malta cannot afford to continue supporting migrants from war-torn countries in its over-crowded detention camps, the country's foreign minister has told CNN.
December 26, 2013 -- Updated 2123 GMT (0523 HKT)
Slow recoveries, bailouts, and youth unemployment. Richard Quest speaks to Europe's top CEOs about the issues of 2013.
December 26, 2013 -- Updated 2114 GMT (0514 HKT)
CNN's Richard Quest speaks to economist Bob Parker about defining moments of 2013 and about what to expect in 2014.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 1815 GMT (0215 HKT)
Estonia is setting the pace for other European nations with a thriving economy and its tech industry, according to the Baltic nation's leader.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 1903 GMT (0303 HKT)
The Baltic nation of Estonia is developing its oil shale energy reserves in a bid to become energy self-sufficient.
November 29, 2013 -- Updated 0925 GMT (1725 HKT)
Europe must stop being nationalistic if it wants to help a lost generation of workers, the regional boss of U.S. conglomerate General Electric says.
November 14, 2013 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
Peer at the windows and you'll spot big colorful chairs, plastic plants and a huge bed, but this is no department store.
November 19, 2013 -- Updated 1006 GMT (1806 HKT)
There once was a time, many years ago, when the sounds of bagpipes struck fear into the stomachs of Englishmen.
November 11, 2013 -- Updated 1116 GMT (1916 HKT)
Greece is on the way to economic recovery as investor faith returns to the recession-ridden eurozone nation, an executive at Greece's largest bank has told CNN.
November 8, 2013 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Could Greece's famous spice help the country's farmers through a four-year long economic crisis.
November 1, 2013 -- Updated 1307 GMT (2107 HKT)
One of the masterminds behind the euro says Europe would have suffered a far worse fate if the single currency had never been created.
October 31, 2013 -- Updated 1741 GMT (0141 HKT)
Nina Dos Santos visits the Dutch city where the European treaty carrying the city's name came into force 20 years ago.
October 25, 2013 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
As Spain continues its drive to slash budgets and cut spending, one of the nation's favorite pastimes is under threat as ministers look for ways to boost productivity.
October 24, 2013 -- Updated 1617 GMT (0017 HKT)
The high commissioner of Brand Spain talks about getting the country back on its fee and attracting business.
Today's five most popular stories