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D. Complete the text with Past tenses.

I ____ (buy) (1) a new alarm clock the other day in Taylor’s the jewelers, when I ____ (see) (2) an elderly woman shoplifting. I _____ (just/finish) (3) paying for my clock and as I turned round, she ____ (slowly/put) (4) a silver plate into her bag. When she _____ (think) (5) that nobody _____ (look) (6), she dropped an expensive-looking watch into the bag. Before I had a chance to tell the staff in the shop, she ____ (notice) (7) that I _____ (watch) (8) her and _____ (hurry) (9) out. Unfortunately for her, two police officers _____ (walk) (10) past just and she ran straight into them.

E. Choose the correct words in italics.

Steve Fossett (1) was always looking/had always looked for adventure, even as a boy in the 1950s. After some years in business he (2) began/was beginning his well-known adventures, from swimming the English Channel to sailing round the world. But Fossett is best known for his adventures in the air in hot air balloons, gliders and light aircraft. In 2005 he (3) broke/was breaking the record for non-stop flying when he (4) had flown/flew round the world in 67 hours without stopping for fuel. A year later, as he (5) attempted/was attempting to break the record for the longest flight, he had to stop because part of his engine (6) was failing/had failed – but he (7) was breaking/broke the record anyway. Fossett’s adventures often (8) were putting/put him in danger – in 1998, while he (9) travelled/was travelling around the world in a balloon, he almost died (10) while/when the balloon fell from the sky. In the end, it was a routine flight that (11) took /was taking his life – he (12) had flown/was flying a small plane across the Nevada Desert in September 2007 when he (13) disappeared /was disappearing. No one could find him. Then, some months later, a hiker (14) walked/was walking through the mountains in southern California when he (15) noticed /was noticing some personal items which (16) belonged/were belonging to the adventurer, and soon afterwards a search party (17) found /was finding the wreckage of the plane. Some time later, Fossett’s body was found. His adventures (18) was/were over.

F. Complete the text with verbs in Past Simple or Past Perfect:

Leyton stared at the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean in front of him. He (1) ____ (finally/come) to the end of his journey. Several months ago he (2) _____ (not/know) whether the journey would really be possible. After all, he (3) _____ (recover) from his illness only weeks before he (4) _____ (make) the decision – well, it was because of the illness that he (5) ______ (decide) to do this, to prove it was possible. Then, after a few weeks of planning and worrying, he (6) _____ (set out), starting from the northernmost point of the country and walking, on his own, to the southernmost point. And here he was, at the end of his journey – he (7) _____ (achieve) his aim. And he (8) _____ (realize) now that it was the most exciting thing he (9) _____ (ever/do) – and probably ever would do – in his life.

G. Choose the correct words in italics:

a) Her mother had/had had a beautiful voice, both when she sang/had sung and when she talked/had talked.

b) The girls were still there, standing where he saw/had seen them earlier.

c) Liesel’s treat was a ride on a car. She was never/had never been in one before.

d) The man was very pleasant, reminding him that they met/had met at Adam’s wedding.

e) As Joe walked away, he felt/had felt that he said/had said goodbye to his youth.

f) She stepped out of the bath, reached/had reached for the towel the maid left/had left for her and wrapped/had wrapped it around her.

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This is a book devoted to the conversational and grammar practice of first-year students of Saint-Petersburg Institute of Cinema and Television, combining effective up-to-date exercises with intelligible, easy-to-understand explanation of grammar aspects (Present, Continuous, Perfect and Future). This is a book which places students’ needs and interests first and foremost and uses popular actual texts like «Before They Were Stars», «Why Learn English with Movies and Films?», «On Advertising in Movies» «Filmmaking Business In the Making» adapted from modern Internet sources and literature. For everyone who opens its carefully arranged pages it will offer a close acquaintance with the most popular and influential medium of culture.

Detailed study of its tasks will enable students with practical skills of everyday communication. In its section aimed at developing public speaking skills it deals with such burning contemporary topics as: Should an all-expense paid gap year become obligatory for Russian school leavers? (Unit 2) Do you agree that great talkers are little doers? (Unit 4) Will people live without money in the future? (Unit 6). The book helps to transform students into sophisticated urban individuals, able to get themselves across in any situation.

The book is well-designed and expertly illustrated by a group of talented lecturers of Saint-Petersburg Institute of Cinema and Television S. Pankratova and K. Vyalyak. This book is well-structured – it is divided into six thematic parts – personality, travel, work, language, advertising, business and six sup-parts dealing with actual grammar aspects, followed by a conclusion, summarizing main achievements, keys to exercises and a bibliography. Exercises develop lexical awareness, practice collocations, question formation, synonymic choice, word-formation and many aspects of grammar. Authors hope that learners of English will become more competent and knowledgeable in the field of cinematograph with the help of this interesting edition.




Task F.

1.d, 2.c, 3.b, 4.e, 5.a, 6.g, 7.f, 8.i, 9.h, 10.j

Task G.

a) legend, b) indulgent, c) cynical, d) ferocious, e) receptive, f) tough, g) innovative, h) gentle, i) passionately, j) carefully

Task H.

1) on, 2) to, 3) in, 4) for, 5) about / for, 6) to, 7) among, 8) to, 9) at, 10) for

Task I.

1. get through to smb.; 2. get on well with smb.; 3. feel uneasy about smb.; 4. be fed up with smb.; 5. be fascinated by smb.; 6. be very fond of smb.; 7. feel indifferent to smb.; 8. have great respect for smb; 9. have a lot in common with smb.; 10. have love-hate relationship with smb.

Task K.

a) dream, b) fun, c) ideas, d) doing, e) unique, f) forever, g) books, h) dare, i) grow, j) learn


Task A.

1) dream, 2) has, 3) don’t understand, 4) are falling, 5) am planning, 6) wants, 7) find, 8) are looking, 9) are not growing, 10) feel.

Task D.

(1) feel, (2) have, (3) don’t, (4) enjoy, (5) Is, (6) cheer, (7) is going, (8) appear, (9) visit, (10) am seeing, (11) leave, (12) doesn’t like, (13) are always arguing, (like) (14)

Task E.

1) never forgets, 2) isn’t working, 3) smell, 4) am finding, 5) are going up, 6) do you believe, 7) is feeling, 8) meet, 9) don’t understand

Task F.

(1) am watching, (2) are you doing, (3) am phoning, (4) are you cooking, (5) am working, (6) am not cooking, (7) am finding, (8) are always complaining, (9) am not spending, (10) am planning, (11) are always saying


Task F.

a) travel, b) trip, c) journey, d) travel, e) journey, f) trip, g) journey, h) travel, i) travel, j) trip

Task G.

verb noun (person) noun (thing, concept) adjective
1 entertain entertainer entertainment entertaining
2 expect expectation expecting
3 forget forgetfulness forgetful
4 mean meaning meaningful
5 offer offer offering
6 reduce reduction reducing
7 reflect reflection reflective
8 survive survivor survivor surviving
9 translate translator translation translating
10 vary variation various

Task H.

1) entertaining, 2) expectation, 3) forgetful, 4) meaning, 5) offer, 6) reduction, 7) reflection, 8) surviving, 9) translates, 10) variation

Task I.

1) diary/dairy, 2) desert/dessert, 3) immigrants/emigrant, 4) literal/literate, 5) personnel/personal, 6) sensitive/sensible, 7) shadow/shade, 8) surgeon/sergeant, 9) vacation/vocation, 10) wandered/wonder

all, found, sky, speak, wrong, found


Task A.

1) hasn’t snowed, 2) have given up, 3) got up, 4) worked, 5) have done, 6) laid, 3) worked, 4) didn’t pass, didn’t study, 5) haven’t read, 6) wrote

(1) haven’t done, (2) have already chosen, (3) haven’t you, (4) haven’t seen, (5) Have you been, (6) haven’t been, (7) ’ve never bought, (8) have just sent, (9) Have you ever tried, (10) don’t really know, (11) ’ve never bought

Task E.

1. have you known Caroline; 2. I’ve known her; 3. since March; 4. ten lessons so far; 5. I failed it twice before; 6. I’ve had proper lessons; 7. for several days

(1) has just announced, (2) made, (3) have not been able, (4) have been, (5) have overcome, (6) recharges, (7) has not given, (8) have already tested, (9) first designed, (10) have adapted, (11) invited, (12) were

(1) have just fallen, (2) have you done, (3) has been, (4) has given, (5) happened, (6) has decided, (7) have got, (8) told, (9) was, (10) have used


Task F.

1. d, 2. c, 3. e, 4. a, 5. b, 6. g, 7. f, 8. j, 9. h, 10. i

a) firefighter, b) lifeguard, c) janitor, d) delivery boy, e) bouncer, f) fitness instructor, g) hotel receptionist, h) gas station attendant, i) rent collector, j) flight attendant

sell badly, pretend not to notice, hire by telephone, develop slowly, find fault with, test on animals, work hard, be famous as smb., be immune to smth., get on one’s nerves

1) selling, 2) pretended to be, 3) hired on, 4) developed, 5) finding, 6) tested, 7) works on, 8) be famous, 9) immune to, 10) get the meaning

man – human being, mankind – human race, spaceman – astronaut, chairman – chairperson, waiter/waitress – waitperson, barman – bartender, fireman – firefighter, stewardess – flight attendant, policeman – police officer, girl/boyfriend – partner

1) gender unknown / masculine; 2) feminine / gender unknown; 3) gender unknown / masculine; 4) masculine / gender unknown; 5) masculine / gender unknown

blood, strong; Chorus: debt, store; mine, soul; Chorus: died, will; name, line;

a blue-collar job


1) haven’t smoked, 2) has been blowing, 3) has been accumulating, 4) have been swimming, 5) have known, 6) have been trying, 7) have been stopping, 8) has won, 9) has spent, 10) has just gone

Task D.

a) have been, have you been, b) has been watching, has he been doing, c) hasn’t been working, d) have not been feeling well, e) have you been studying, f) have you been using

(1) ’ve been learning, (2) ’ve really been enjoying, (3)’ve been having, (4) ’ve had, (5) ’ve been going, (6) ’ve already spent, (7) took, (8) ’ve been trying, (9) ’ve been suffering, (10) ’ve been taking, (11) ’ve never driven

(1) have you been working, (2) ’ve been doing, (3) ’ve been trying, (4) haven’t seen, (5) ’ve just got, (6) has been living, (7) ’ve looked, (8) haven’t found, (9) have you tried, (10) ’ve already looked, (11) ’ve been waiting, (12) ’ve heard

1) has always lived, 2) ’ve called, 3) ’ve been waiting, 4) ’s been living, 5) ’ve been decorating, 6) j’s just turned, 7) l’s been studying, 8) ’ve known, 9) j’ve marked, 10) haven’t tried, 11) ’ve never liked


Task F.

1. b, 2. d, 3. a, 4. e, 5. c, 6. h, 7. f, 8. g, 9. j, 10. i

Task G.

1) fluently, 2) native, 3) silly, 4) authentic, 5) hilarious, 6) mental, 7) complicated, 8) sad, 9) valuable, 10) literally

Task H.

«Hope to see you at the party later. Jo. Lots of kisses.»

«Had a great time. Thanks for your present. See you tomorrow.»

«In the beginning God created heavens and the Earth.»

«Text you later» a poem by Aislinn O’Loughlin:

“The great thing about text messaging conversations

Is that you can use these abbreviations.

You stop spelling words the way they ought to

And drop some vowels too, if that makes the word shorter.

But what if you’re so busy being so clever

You forget how to spell normal words altogether?

Because with all that letters and strife we’re losing

Don’t you think reading this poem was confusing?”

Task J.

(1) being interrupted, (2) hinted, (3) debating, (4) express, (5) announced, (6) confess, (7) phrasing, (8) recite, (9) preach, (10) comments, (11) lecture, (12) dictate, (13) chatting, (14) gossiping, (15) message, (16) declare, (17) claim, (18) refer, (19) quote, (20) suspect, (21) mention, (22) recount, (23) tell, (24) dry up, (25) blurt out, (26) arguing, (27) contradicting, (28) rambling, (29) sticking, (30) spit, (31) explanation, (32) illustration, (33) account, (34) descriptions, (35) recommendations


Task A.

1) am meeting, 2) ’ll show, 3) is, 4) am leaving, 5) don’t eat, 6) will go, 7) will burn, 8) will return, 9) are going to, starts, 10) ’ll have

Task D.

(1) ’m, (2) ’ll go, (3) ’m taking, (4) ’re going to see, (5) ’ll come

Task E.

(1) are you leaving, (2) ’re getting,(3) Are you staying, (4) are flying, (5) ’re staying, (6) won’t, (7) ’re, (8) ’re having, (9) see, (10) ’re going to, (11) going to get, (12) probably, (13) Shall, (14) ’ll get

Task F.

1) book, provide, 2) take, will add, 3) sounds, leave, 4) eat, ’ll give, 5) require, can, 6) require, can, 7) check out, don’t forget

Task G.

(1) gets,(2) will steal, (3) don’t, (4) might, (5) might confuse, (6) allow, (7) will be able to, (8) don’t have, (9) buy, (10) doesn’t, (11) won’t, (12) tell, (13) is, (14) might not

Task H.

a) come, b) see, won’t, c) will you be, am, d) is, e) will wait, are, f) will be, gets


1. c, 2. d, 3. a, 4. e, 5. b, 6. j, 7. f, 8. g, 9. h, 10. i

Task G.

a) frank, b) props, c) insufferable, d) commercial, e) revenue, f) pervasive, g) smorgasbord, h) stirring, i) woven, j) signature

1) marketing, 2) advertising, 3) advertising, 4) advertise, 5) marketing, 6) advertising, 7) advertising, 8) marketed, 9) advertising, 10) advertised


Task A.

1) spoke, could get, 2) would get on, didn’t live with, 3) wouldn’t, paid, 4) would, met, 5) would not, loved, 6) would look, painted, 7) would be, wore, 8) had no, would travel, 9) would, were, 10) stopped, would feel

a) move, would go, b) was, would, c) wouldn’t, were, d) were no, wouldn’t, e) wouldn’t, was, f) asked, would, g) could, would

(1) took, could, (2) wouldn’t, didn’t, (3) would, were, (4) wouldn’t, treat, (5) were, wouldn’t, (6) would, spoke, might, (7) speak, will be able

1) had applied, might’ve got, 2) hadn’t spent, could’ve afforded, 3) had noticed, wouldn’t have got, 4) hadn’t broken, could’ve become, 5) hadn’t eaten, wouldn’t have been

(1) hadn’t been rude, (2) wouldn’t have fired, (3) wouldn’t have got, (4) hadn’t bought, (5) hadn’t been, (6) wouldn’t have taken, (7) hadn’t gone, (8) wouldn’t have recognized, (9) had admitted, (10) might not have called, (11) had asked, (12) wouldn’t have happened

a) hadn’t left, b) would you do, c) had cancelled, d) wouldn’t have bought, e) wouldn’t have married, f) hadn’t got married, couldn’t enjoy


Task F.

1. e, 2. c, 3. d, 4. b, 5. a, 6. g, 7. i, 8. f, 9. j, 10. h

Task G.

a) government funding, b) fall into, c) dolly grip, d) cinematographer, e) to track down, f) tax advantages, g) crowd funding, h) target audience, i) envision, j) subscribers

1. g. 2. e. 3. b. 4. f. 5. c. 6. d. 7. h. 8. a. 9. i. 10. k.


Task A.

1) was getting, went, 2) arrived, had broken, 3) took, had finished, 4) got, had sent, had never replied, 5) started, was checking, 6) came, was showing, 7) realized, had met, 8) reported, had found, 9) guessed, cheated (had cheated is OK too), 10) went, was feeling

(1) was buying, (2) saw, (3) had just finished, (4) was slowly putting, (5) thought, (6) was looking, (7) noticed, (8) was watching, (9) hurried, (10) were walking

(1) was always looking, (2) began, (3) broke, (4) flew, (5) was attempting, (6) had failed, (7) broke, (8) put, (9) was travelling, (10) when, (11) took, (12) was flying, (13) disappeared, (14) was walking, (15) noticed, (16) belonged, (17) found, (18) were

(1) had finally come, (2) didn’t know, (3) had recovered, (4) made, (5) had decided, (6) had set out, (7) had achieved, (8) realized, (9) had ever done

a) had had, sang, talked, b) had seen, c) had never been, d) had met, e) felt, had said, f) reached, had left, wrapped


1 Bangs David H. Practical Marketing. A Step-by-Step Guide to Effective planning. Hampshire 2007. – 56 р.

2 Collins Cobild English Grammar. Harper publishers. Fulham, London 1990. – 486 p.

3 Cutting Edge Intermediate. Cunningham S., Moor P. Pearson Education Limited. Edinburgh Gate, Harlow, Essex, England, 2005. – 175 p.

4 Eckler A.Ross, Names and games. Onomastics and recreational language. An anthology of 99 articles. London, 1986.

5 Goddard A. The language of advertising. London, New York, 2002.

6 Heineman ELT English. Macmillan Heinemann English Language Teaching. Oxford, Macmillan Publishers Limited, 20011. – 266p.

7 Heilman R.M. Creativity and the brain. – New York and Hove, Psychology press, 2005. – 203 p.

8 Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. Pearson Education limited. – Harlow, England, 2001.

9 Longman Essential Activator. Addison Wesley Longman Limited, Hadley, Essex. 1997. – 997 p.

10 Macmillan English Dictionary for advanced learners. Oxford, 2007. – 1748 p.

11 Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of current English by A.S. Hornby. Oxford university press, 2020. – 1780 p.

12 Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English language. Portland house, New York, 1989. – 2078p.

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Проверено экспертом

1. The new road has been under construction for a long time now.
2. The horse had been in training (for the race) for over a year.
3. The issue has been under discussion in Parliament.
4. The criminal had been under observation for the past two weeks.
5. This plane has been in use for over 25 years now.
6. The Cyborg D423 robot has been in development for over ten years.

1. It is said that Bali is a beautiful island.
2. It is thought that life won’t be found on Mars.
3. Christmas is (generally) said to be too commercialised.
4. It is (often) argued that prison doesn’t work.
5. It has been suggested that the school should start to produce a magazine.
6. Crocodile is said to taste like squid.
7. The Vikings are said to have discovered America before Columbus.
8. Heart disease is thought to be caused by eating the wrong things.

The European Diet

1. was
2. was
3. by
4. are
5. were
6. were
7. been
8. had
9. was
10. was
11. had
12. got
13. were

Вариант 21

Раздел 1. Аудирование

Вы услышите четыре коротких диалога, обозначенных A, B, C и D. Определите, где происходит каждый из диалогов. Используйте каждое место действия из списка 1-5 только один раз. В задании есть одно лишнее место действия. Вы услышите запись дважды. У вас есть 20 секунд, чтобы ознакомиться с заданием.

Нажмите , чтобы прослушать запись

1. In a swimming pool

3. In a shopping centre

5. In a classroom

Вы услышите пять высказываний. Установите соответствие между высказываниями каждого говорящего А-E и утверждениями, данными в списке 1-6. Используйте каждое утверждение из списка 1-6 только один раз. В задании есть одно лишнее утверждение. Вы услышите запись дважды. У вас есть 30 секунд, чтоб ознакомиться с заданием.

Нажмите , чтобы прослушать запись

1. The speaker explains how to get to his/her school.

2. The speaker describes a classroom in his/her school.

3. The speaker talks about his/her favourite school subject.

4. The speaker comments on the school’s sports facilities.

5. The speaker presents his/her ideas about the school of the future.

6. The speaker complains about too much homework.

В заданиях 3-8 в поле ответа запишите одну цифру, которая соответствует номеру правильного.

Нажмите , чтобы прослушать запись

Harry is in the medical centre because

1) he has a problem with his leg.

2) he has taken his granny to see the doctor.

3) he has to take a blood test.

The sport Harry does currently is

2) roller skating.

Monica’s sister works as

1) a hospital nurse.

2) a chess teacher.

3) a swimming coach.

1) Harry’s classmate.

2) Harry’s relative.

3) Harry’s neighbour.

Harry’s favourite school subject is

2) Physical Education.

Harry wants to have a career in

Раздел 2. Чтение

1. Projects for the near future

2. How the space station is arranged

3. The example of global cooperation

4. They cannot have it in orbit

5. How it started

6. Space research to improve our life

7. Training astronauts

8. Visiting space for pleasure

A. The international space station has been in orbit for more than fifteen years. The idea was first introduced in the agreement on space exploration signed by Russia and the USA. Since then scientists and engineers from sixteen countries have contributed to the project. Thus, the station can be called the result of technology from all over the world.

B. Like Rome, the international space station was not built in a day. The space exploration project began with small manned orbital stations designed by Russian engineers in the 1960s. Later, the bigger modules Salyut and Mir appeared. They successfully worked in orbit from the 1970s till the 2000s. The space station, which is currently in orbit, was formed from Zaria and Unity, autonomous space modules, in 1998. It is regularly used for international space missions.

C. Inside the two modules there is equipment that provides astronauts with atmosphere, energy, and communications. Also, some radiators, fuel tanks and solar batteries are outside. Special screens protect all the elements of the station from meteors. The main control area is concentrated in the third, modernized module. Astronauts and all necessary goods reach the station in space ships.

D. Crews of astronauts carry out different studies and experiments in orbit. They monitor numerous space objects as well as the atmosphere, volcanoes and water resources of our planet. The results are recorded in reports that astronauts send to the Earth regularly. Science experiments are done in biology, medicine and physics. Thanks to space discoveries, scientists and engineers are able to invent new materials, medicines and technologies for people.

E. It is very important for the astronauts to have regular meals. However, their menu is very specific. All food is prepared in a special way and stored in vacuum containers. There are also foods that cannot be used in orbit at all. Bread is one of them. It is banned at the station because bread crumbs are difficult to collect. The astronauts miss bread very much and nowadays the engineers are designing a space bakery to make a special type of bread.

F. The international space station is a unique destination for space tourism. Since 2020, eight non-professional astronauts have visited it to enjoy the amazing views of the Earth. Although this type of travel costs millions of dollars, the interest to space tourism is constantly growing all over the world. Every new tourist is selected carefully because the health requirements are rather high. The journey takes ten days, including the way to and from the station.

G. At present, mass space travel to other planets is a common theme of science fiction films. Meanwhile the real space exploration scenarios are much more exciting. There are several projects for setting up stations on the Moon and to build human settlements there. A manned expedition to Mars doesn’t look like a crazy idea any more. And of course, scientists continue looking for other life in the universe.

Прочитайте текст. Определите, какие из приведённых утверждений 10–17 соответствуют содержанию текста (1 – True), какие не соответствуют (2 – False) и о чём в тексте не сказано, то есть на основании текста нельзя дать ни положительного, ни отрицательного ответа (3 – Not stated). В поле ответа запишите одну цифру, которая соответствует номеру правильного ответа.

At the parking lot near the Hermitage in St. Petersburg there is an unusual road sign. It says Cats crossing. It was introduced to protect the cats living on the territory. The Hermitage cats have become an attraction of their own and a special attraction for young visitors. The museum director keeps saying that the cats interest journalists even more than the exhibits themselves!

He is right. Even the ravens of the Tower of London could envy the fame of the Hermitage cats. Firstly, each one has a passport and a personal plate and a collar. Secondly, they undergo regular vet check-ups. Their meals are cooked in a special kitchen in the basement. Finally, they are welcomed on the annual Cats’ Day celebrated in May and are honorable guests there.

Kindly called the hermics, the cats feel at home inside the museum. They are free to go wherever they like, within some reasonable limits of course. In fact, there are classes inside the animal community. The most privileged are allowed into the halls and stairs, others live in the basement and in the yard. The tradition of cats’ privileges goes back to the 18th century. The first cats brought to the Winter Palace were divided into indoor and outdoor ones.

At that time, the Winter Palace was occupied by rats. The hungry creatures were destroying the royal food stores and belongings. By the order of Empress Elizabeth I, 30 cats were brought from Kazan to help the situation. They were carefully selected among the many cats as the strongest and the quickest rat-hunters. In time, the children of the Kazan cats became the pets of the royal family. The hardest time for cats in the Hermitage was the Siege of Leningrad during World War II. There were almost none of them left in the city. The rats multiplied enormously and a cat became worth its weight in gold. The authorities used the old method and ordered four carriages of cats from Yaroslavl. Five thousand male hunters arrived to save the museum. And they succeeded in their mission! Now there are about 60 cats in the museum and each of them has a name. The names come from painters, cities and states, and there is a legend about one of them, Vaska, the Lawyer. This cat was the hero of the battles against the rats in the 1960s. His second name came from the Law Department that Vaska enjoyed visiting.

Having lost interest in law, the cat settled at the front entrance to the Hermitage. There he played a more important role as a porter and got more food. Every morning half an hour before opening, he called the guards to the doors with a loud mew. When the first visitors entered the hall, he would lay by the stairs to get more attention.

Among the visitors there were many volunteers to help take care of the cats. Today the museum covers the cats’ living expenses. Also, there are sponsors eager to take part. On Cats’ Day visitors are allowed into the basement to watch the cats’ everyday life. Some cats are available for adoption and people are happy to take them home as a symbol of the Hermitage.

Riding high
America’s expansion is now the longest on record

What could bring it to an end?

A ROUND THE world investors, businesses and central bankers are grappling with a startling fact: at the end of July America’s economy will have been growing for 121 months, the longest run since records began in 1854, according to the NBER, a research body. History suggests there will be a recession soon. And plenty of people are gloomy. Bond markets have been sounding the alarm, as long-term interest rates sink below short-term ones, often a harbinger of a downturn. Manufacturing firms are wary; indices of business confidence are tumbling. Yet equity investors are still buoyant. The stockmarket is going gangbusters, rising by 19% so far this year. And in June America’s economy created a whopping 224,000 new jobs, more than twice as many as needed to keep up with the growth of the workforce. The result is a puzzle that matters a great deal. America’s economy accounts for a quarter of global output, so if it stumbles the world will, too. But if it proves able to extend the cycle a lot longer, it may be time to rewrite the rules for how all rich economies behave.

The conflicting signals reflect an unusually sluggish and stretched expansion. Some of that is to be expected after the worst financial crisis in 80 years, but as our briefing explains, it is also owing to deeper changes in America’s $21trn economy. Growth is slow but more stable as activity has shifted to services and intangible assets. Thanks to new regulations and the recent memory of the bust, there are few signs of wild mortgage lending, over-investment or reckless financial firms. Inflation is remarkably subdued. These forces mean that a placid expansion can continue well beyond historical norms, but also suggest that the way it will eventually end will be different. Recessions used to be triggered by housing bubbles, price surges or industrial busts. Now you should worry about globally interconnected firms, a financial system addicted to cheap money and a political system that is toying with extreme policies because living standards are not rising fast enough.

Average GDP growth during this expansion has been a mere 2.3%, much lower than the 3.6% that was seen in America’s three previous expansions. That reflects some deep malaises. The workforce is ageing. Big firms hoard profits and invest less. Productivity growth has been slow. Robert Gordon, an economist, worries that America’s genius for innovation is flagging. Emojis and bitcoins are no substitute for breakthroughs such as jet engines or the internet.

That is the bad news. The good news is that the economy may be less volatile. A third of America’s 20th-century recessions were caused by industrial slumps or oil-price shocks, according to Goldman Sachs. Today manufacturing is just 11% of GDP and each dollar of output requires a quarter less energy than in 1999. Services have become even more vital, at 70% of output. Instead of fickle factories and Florida condos, investment has shifted to intellectual property, which now accounts for more than a quarter of the total. After the searing experience of 2008, the value of the housing stock is 143% of GDP, well below the peak of 188%. Banks are rammed full of capital.

Most remarkable of all is very low inflation, which has averaged 1.6% over the course of the expansion. In many past downturns the jobs market overheated, causing inflation and leading the Federal Reserve to hit the brakes. Today the dynamics are different. The unemployment rate has fallen to 3.7%, close to the lowest in half a century, but wage growth is only a tepid 3%. Workers have less bargaining power in a globalised economy. The Fed’s credibility helps, too—most people believe that it can keep long-run inflation at about 2%. Given that racing prices are less of a worry and that it lacks the ammunition to deal with a serious downturn, the Fed is being more active at signalling that it will ease policy when growth dips. This week the Fed signalled it would soon nudge rates down from today’s 2.25-2.5%, to keep growth going.

All this supports the idea that the familiar triggers for recession are still absent and that the moderately good times can roll on for years yet. The trouble with this logic is that, just as the economy has changed, so have the risks. Inevitably it is hard to identify exactly what might go wrong, but three new kinds of problems loom large.

First, America’s glossy corporate champions have unfamiliar vulnerabilities. Although fewer make physical goods, most rely on global production chains that are being shaken by the trade war (see article). This is depressing investment and could yet produce a shock—imagine if Apple was cut off from its factories in China. Tech firms, meanwhile, now account for a third of all investment by listed firms, including intellectual property. Other businesses outsource their need for IT services to a few giants. One of them, Alphabet, spent $45bn in the past year, five times more than Ford. But 85% of its sales come from advertising, which has been cyclical in the past. It and other tech firms also face a regulatory storm.

The second risk is financial. Although house prices and the banks have been tamed, total private debts remain high by historical standards, at 250% of GDP. An edifice of asset prices and borrowing rests on the assumption of permanently low and stable interest rates, making it more fragile than it looks. If rates rise there will be distress among some firms, and trouble in debt markets—there was a sell-off in late 2020. If, by contrast, the Fed has to cut rates to near zero for a prolonged period to sustain growth, it could weaken the banks, as Europe has found.

A recession made in Washington?

The last danger is politics. As the economy has trodden a narrow path, the boundaries of economic policy have been blown wide apart, partly out of frustration at a decade of sluggish wages. President Donald Trump has tried to gin up growth, by cutting taxes and attacking the Fed. Most Democrats are keen to let rip on government spending. More extreme policies hover in the wings. On the left, modern monetary theory (a kind of money printing) and massive state intervention are popular. One of Mr Trump’s new nominees to the Fed board supports a gold standard. The greatest threat to America’s long and placid expansion is that a new era of wild policy may be just beginning.

This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline “Riding high”

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