From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:
Note: A considerable part of the public debt of Great Britian, which had been contracted in the form of annuities yielding various rates of interest, was, in 1757, consolidated into one fund at 3 per cent interest, the account of which is kept at the Bank of England. This debt has been diminished and increased at different times, and now constitutes somewhat more than half of the entire national debt. The stocks are transferable, and their value in the market constantly fluctuates; the price at any time being regarded as a gauge of the national prosperity and public confidence.
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