On the list of Madoff victims published in both the New York Times and Bloomberg is an organisation who are given as having a paltry $1.4m exposure. This is the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC).
La Caisse is a pioneer - founded in 1816 it has evolved into France's sovereign wealth fund with €221bn of assets at end 2007. Its business review highlights some of its noble missions: provision of public housing, paying for university and hospital renovations, financing small and medium sized French businesses, undertaking renewable energy projects and so forth. Or as President Sarkozy put it in January this year to a press corps more interested in his wooing of Carla Bruni:
"The Caisse des Dépôts is an instrument of this policy of defending and promoting the nation's primordial economic interests"
But just what are some of the investments supporting these primordial economic interests? And readers ought to know before the partial answer below that there is surely no nation on earth that takes its leisure time as seriously as France (c/f the 35 hour week).
So look no further* than a wide assortment of ski, holiday and leisure resorts (Parc Asterix included) when giving thanks to the good works of the CDC. These investments, though labelled "regional development services" by the CDC, are arguably much more consistent with the enduring labour rights legacy of the remarkable architect of modern French socialism Léon Blum (note to Madame Aubry: he stopped at a 40 hour week).
As for Madoff, the CDC say that they carry no direct exposure: the $1.4m sat in fund of funds. Which, considering CDC has €16bn in mutual funds (as at year end 2007), is an amazing piece of fortune. Or skill.
Joyeuse fêtes et vive la France.
*OK, there is more.