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The normally humourless financial section of the Erzgebirgskreis Zeitung – everywhere referred to as the ‘Zgebirgs Zeitung, or in abbreviated but narcoleptic form, the ZZ – occasioned a rare moment of mirth among its readers this week. Reporting on trading in outstanding Russian loans at the Kaffeehaus in Dresden, the ZZ observed that prices had fallen dramatically when the coffeehouse owner was heard to announce that the Czarina was massing forces “on the never-never”. (This term, believed to be English in origin, refers to financing something on long-term credit.) Traders, who had assumed that the Czarina’s Treasury would be able to fund at least fifteen months of conflict without resort to fresh borrowings, pushed the prices of existing loans down by as much as 13%. Prices later recovered when traders recalled that the coffeehouse owner, Jürgen Baristein, has a pronounced stutter. Baristein confirmed that he had intended to say “on the Neva”.

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