Two Russian mortgage advisers sit in their Moscow office, just off Red Square. Snow falls in the street as tanks slowly trundle by queues outside empty grocery shops.
Uri: Sergei, have you seen the new decree from our excellent leader?
Sergei: No, what marvellous proposals has our most exalted ruler given us?
Uri: He has said that the people need to be more responsible in their home ownership. He says we must limit how much people borrow when they wish to buy one of our excellent Russian homes.
Uri: Yes, here in this paper, ‘The people’s decree for better, fairer mortgages’ Comrade Stalin says we must not lend mortgages past 95 per cent loan to value. He also says, in his infinite wisdom, that no mortgage should be given to someone that exceeds three times his income. He will make sure to check every financial institution, every day and is asking everyone to keep an eye on each other.
Sergei: But Uri, I am confused. Only a few months ago, Comrade Stalin was telling us how good 100 per cent mortgages were? He said we should sell lots of these mortgages. Why, we sold many 100 per cent mortgages to happy comrades and we were rewarded. See here, our photo with the leader, picking up our mortgage adviser of the year award 1930?
Uri: Sssshh Sergei. Comrade Stalin did no such thing.
Sergei: But here is a letter from our leader, telling us to sell more 100 per cent mortgages in an attempt to help our fellow comrades own homes and reaffirm themselves with the land of mother Russia?
Uri: I think you are mistaken, Sergei. Comrade Stalin would never allow any good Russian to be so reckless with mortgages. See here, in today’s Red Star newspaper, the leader is telling us to not be reckless with our money. He has always told us to be wary of economic boom and busts.
Sergei: But he told us, when we had this picture taken, that boom and bust was dead?
Uri: No he didn’t. Be quiet, Sergei, you don’t know who is listening.