Thursday, January 28, 2010

The debt that would not disappear

There are sometimes papers you just cannot put down only because they are so well crafted, even though your are not really interested in their topic. I just read one of those, by François Velde.

The French government is still honoring an annuity dating back from 1738, yielding annually €1.20 to be distributed to 58 people. That seems to be a very inconsequential amount, but this particular debt, which survived several kings and political regimes, just does not die. I do not want to reveal too much about the story here, as Velde does a remarkable job at trying to understand where this annuity comes from, how it survived various challenges and how its current amount was established. Along the way, we learn a lot about politics and economics through almost three centuries of French history. A true page turner.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are still a considerable amount of U.S. War Bonds from World War II that have never been cashed and still floating around in closets, attics, basements, garages, and safe boxes throughout the world. I believe everything should have have an expiration date attached to them. Most of the orginally owners have long since perished from this earth. If they didn't think it was important to redeem them, why should their heirs?

It makes great history but little financial sense.

Danny L. McDaniel
Lafayette, Indiana