Lend out the Pieta to the Louvre?

Asher Meir writes to me:

You wrote once that Italy doesn’t have to sell the Pieta to pay off its debts. But maybe it could create a lot of credibility by putting it in hock. In general, a country could create a lot of credibility by issuing bonds backed by various cultural treasures that they would find it plausibly inconceivable to forgo.

Italy could sell “Pieta bonds”.

Of course it could never work, even though it makes economic sense.  Italy would feel it is being taken advantage of.  Which is precisely the problem behind a lot of other proposed deals too.  Under what conditions could the French government actually keep the Pieta and find the benefits from keeping higher than the benefits from sending back?

The entire “tighter sanctions against the fiscal violators” approach, now on the table, encounters exactly this problem.  It’s already the case that the eurozone is unwilling to pull the plug on Italy.


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