Volcker weighs advising Russian bank No formal offer yet, ex-Fed chief says

February 08, 1992|By New York Times News Service

MOSCOW -- Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, said yesterday that he was considering becoming an adviser to the Russian Central Bank.

But he emphasized that he had not been formally invited and that he did not know enough about Russia's economic situation to respond to such an offer if it was made.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Volker said the subject was broached with Russian officials when he visited Moscow this week.

Mr. Volcker's prestige among international bankers, stemming from his stint as chairman of the Federal Reserve in the 1980s, presumably would help the government of President Boris N. Yeltsin in negotiations over payment of Russia's foreign debt and membership in the International Monetary Fund.

"If I had any role over there, I would want to do this very quietly," Mr. Volcker said in a telephone interview from his office in New York. He returned home at midweek after 36 hours in Moscow, where he met with Yegor T. Gaidar, the deputy prime minister, and Georgi Matyukhin, chairman of the central bank, among others.

Some of the prime minister's American advisers had urged Mr. Volcker to visit Moscow, and he did so en route home from an international economic conference in Davos, Switzerland. "I was a little curious to see it," he said.

Mr. Gaidar, Mr. Yeltsin's economic chief, and Mr. Matyukhin have been at odds over how to revive Russia's economy.

Mr. Gaidar's team argues that before the economy can grow, it must be stabilized through austerity measures, among them a sharp reduction in government spending and a reduction in bank lending at giveaway interest rates.

The central bank has encouraged this lending through loans to Russia's growing commercial bank sector.

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