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It's the way he tells them

Reading economic reports can be a chore, even for the committed. So it is hardly surprising that those who write them try to liven them up. Some opt for catchy titles, but at Bankers Trust in London economist Ian Amstead goes that little bit further.

Since joining from Chase in 1992, Amstead has introduced a degree of sardonic comedy into his reports. "There are some subjects you have to avoid," he says. "But having a dig at some of western Europe's central banks and governments is an indulgence I enjoy."

An ongoing theme is to mock European monetary union, but his favourite is a variant he concocted for April Fool's day a couple of years ago. "I wrote that George Soros, among others, was sponsoring monetary union for eastern Europe. It was unbelievable how many people swallowed it."

It's not just work-related events which appear, though. His favourite of all time is the story of a cruise which he and a colleague took in 1993. The two bankers placed bets on how many pensioners would die on the cruise, and the prize for guessing correctly was a jeroboam of champagne - which went uncollected.

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