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Last weekend, the French government announced it had agreed to issue a state guarantee for Crédit Immobilier de France, a major cooperative-owned mortgage lender for low-income households. The bank ran into severe liquidity problems because of its structural dependence on what was cheap financing from the credit market. The new soicialist government’s move was widely portrayed as a rescue of the troubled mortgage lender. But nothing could be further from the truth, argues Mediapart’s economics and finance correspondent Philippe Riès. CIF is to be run down, with serious consequences for jobs and modest house-buyers, while the real winners of the guarantee are the big banks. For they have escaped helping in a bailout and are now sure their loans to CIF will be repaid.
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