Little Bird Said to Tell G-20 Finance Chiefs That Time Is Up

  • Southwest Germany’s famed cuckoo clock keeps speaker schedule
  • Region has been making the timepieces for around 300 years

The finance chiefs of the world’s biggest economies will be racing against the clock when they speak on Friday -- and not just any clock. A cuckoo clock.

The avian-themed timepiece is intended to make sure finance ministers and central bankers don’t overrun their slot at this week’s Group of 20 meeting in Baden-Baden in southwest Germany. And not only was it welcomed with laughter at Thursday’s gathering of deputies, it succeeded in keeping them on schedule, said two people familiar with the matter, who asked to remain anonymous because the time isn’t right yet.

In The Third Man, Orson Welles disparagingly said that in 500 years of peace, the only thing Switzerland produced was the cuckoo clock. Yet the real home of the horological wall-mounted device may be Germany’s Black Forest area, near Baden-Baden, which has been making the spring-loaded singing-bird clock since the early 18th century.

But time, as any attendee of G-20 meetings will testify, can drag. Which means that while the clock might have been effective on the first day of the gathering, when negotiators haul themselves into the final session on Saturday the repeated admonitions might no longer be music to the ears.

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