Igor K. Klioutchnikov has a vision of what the future should be for Soviet businesses.
He wants them owned not by the state but by stockholders. He wants not socialism but "socialization."
Klioutchnikov is the head of the newly formed Leningrad Stock Exchange. He was with a delegation of 12 Soviet officials who visited Baltimore during the past several days as part of an exchange program with the Friendship Force, an organization designed to promote peace and understanding of world cultures.
Next week, the soft-spoken professor at Leningrad State University hopes to visit the New York Stock Exchange and see for himself one of the world's great trading floors.
The fledgling Leningrad Stock Exchange is not yet trading stocks, but Klioutchnikov hopes that it will be by next summer. The transition from communism to capitalism takes time, even in Leningrad, which he said has one of the most progressive local governments in the Soviet Union.
Klioutchnikov was named by Leningrad's mayor to head the Leningrad Stock Exchange in September. For the past few months, a team in charge of setting up the exchange has been trying to learn as much as possible about how a stock exchange should work.
The Leningrad exchange faces the challenges of operating in a society where profit has been a dirty word. There are no brokerage firms, insurance companies, investment banks and, most importantly, no public understanding of how a stock market works.
There also is a shortage of stocks.
Currently, the few companies that have moved from state
ownership are offering bonds, which are loans, rather than shares of ownership. The Leningrad Commercial Bank is currently the only entity in the city offering public bonds, but 30 companies, which now are offering bonds to their employees, are expected to soon follow with public bond offerings.
Leningrad officials hope to privatize half of the city's firms.
The first obstacle toward creating a stock exchange in the Soviet Union, Klioutchnikov said, is that Soviet people don't understand how a stock market works. So one of the first steps will be educating the people about the stock market through television and radio programs, he said.