Friday, February 20, 2009

Money, money, money...

If I hear the words crise économique or le crédit crunch one more time, I think I might just become Michael Douglas's character in the movie 'Falling Down'. These are definitely not words that sound more romantic in French.

I've just been to my accountant's office for my annual bilan, and let's just say there was a certain amount of pity in her eyes as she went over my accounts from last year. My eyes used to glaze over when I had to listen to this stuff back in Accounting 101 in high school, so you can imagine my enthusiasm when I have to go through it all in French. I always finish with one of these meetings by getting my checkbook out and asking, 'Donc, c'est combien?'.

The RSI, which is the organization that I pay all of my social security payments to, is in absolute chaos at the moment. I used to pay my medical to one organization, my retirement to another, and everything else to another. But last year the RSI took over all of these various payments, so I now just pay one lump (and fairly lumpy at that) sum to one place. They are obviously going through major teething problems and the entire country is feeling the effects.

Nobody quite knows what is going on, including my accountant, which is both frightening and reassuring at the same time. But I guess it's pointless to continue waiting for a reimbursement check from them.

Money and banking are always serious business in France. Bouncing rubber checks is not a condoned sport here, in fact, it's a pretty serious no-no. A recent article in my local paper, Le Midi Libre, shows just how serious it is- Interdit bancaire pour un impayé de 59,80 € ! Basically, a small sign printing company has been blacklisted from their bank and every other bank in the country for 5 years for having insufficient funds to pay a check presented to their account for 59.80 euros. A company would find it pretty hard to operate without a bank account, so effectively this would put them out of business.

It sounds like they are getting some help in over-turning this blacklisting, but it just shows how strictly the French banking establishment enforce overspending regulations.

In the current economic crisis, can you even believe I just typed that last sentence? Sure, close the account if they go 60 euros overdrawn, but it's okay to keep it open if it's, say, 60 billion overdrawn...

3 comments:

Sarah said...

Lol, I am soooo sick of hearing about THE ECONOMIC CRISIS, like it's some sort of looming doomsday. My husband and I watched the economy closely for the last few years and though "how on Earth can this possibly sustain itself?" It amazes me that it takes the rest of the population a stock market crash and inflation to even consider looking at the economy. And then they treat it like some sort of disease that can be treated overnight.

Sigh.

Rant over.

At least you get to hear the terms in French, though. Doesn't that make it a little more tolerable?

poppy fields said...

I got on the blacklist once because of a check I wrote for a pizza, something like 10€. Over a year later we closed that bank account, and I just assumed all the checks had cleared because we hadn't used the account for months and months. When the pizzeria reopened the following summer, they found my check stuck in their books and cashed it and it bounced because we had closed the account. It took days of running around to unfreeze my accounts and the pizzeria guy was sorry for all the trouble he'd caused me.

Sally's Chateau said...

Oh I can believe you wrote that last sentence.....