Business: A Promise Worth 2

Since 1918, when the Soviets repudiated $75 million worth of czarist gold bonds sold to Americans, the Romanov two-headed eagles have theoretically been worthless. Yet hope springs eternal, and several thousand bonds are annually traded on the American Stock Exchange, where they move up and down according to the temperature of U.S.-Soviet relations. The Nazi-Soviet pact in 1939 sent the $1,000 bonds to $1.86, their bottom; the Yalta honeymoon with the U.S. (1945) raised them to a peak $220. They dropped to $20 in the 1950 cold war, rose to $125 on the strength of last summer's Geneva spirit, are currently...

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