All the companies, except the Nord, have at one time or another had to take advantage of the guarantee, and the fact that the Ouest had been one of the most persistent and heavy borrowers in this respect was one of the reasons that induced the government to take it over as from the 1st of January 1909.
Borrowers must repay 2% of their principal half-yearly, and may repay as much more as they choose.
It should be borne in mind that in early times the larger values, such as minae, would be transmitted by commerce, while after the introduction of coinage the lesser values of shekels and drachmae would be the units; and this needs notice, because usually a borrowed unit was multiplied or divided according to the ideas of the borrowers, and strange modifications thus arose.
The legal rate should be a very little above the lowest market rate; sober people will then be preferred as borrowers to prodigals and projectors, who at a higher legal rate would have an advantage over them, being alone willing to offer that higher rate.
Some of the states have usury laws giving relief to borrowers in cases where circumstances have compelled them to agree to extortionate rates; but other states have no such laws, except that a contract in writing is invariably required in all cases where the "legal rate" is exceeded.