DESPITE their budding economic partnership with the Soviet
Union, the world's seven industrial powers remain skeptical about
rescuing their beleaguered capitalist convert.
Meeting during the weekend in Bangkok, the finance ministers and
central bank governors from the major industrial nations agreed to
accelerate efforts to salvage their free-falling former rival.
But the financiers, gathered for the annual meeting of the World
Bank and the International Monetary Fund, avoided immediate
commitments to new loans, debt-payment deferrals, or a huge capital
infusion to transform the Soviet economy.
They agreed to send a team of deputies to work out a bailout
with Moscow and the republics but underscored their stern
conditions for rescue. The Group of Seven (G-7) includes Britain,
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States.
The G-7 wants to see an economic reform program and a clear
delineation of financial responsibilities to be borne by the
disintegrating Soviet center and the republics. The industrialized
countries also want to know how the Soviets will repay $70 billion
in foreign debt, and they want better statistical information about
the Soviet economy.
"What we are seeing here," said Alan Greenspan, chairman of the
US Federal Reserve Board, "is really for the first time the Soviet
Union engaging the West in a level of detail which is
unprecedented." US Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady labeled the
plan "a prescription for progress." (Soviets agree on treaty, Page
3; wrangle over debt, Page 4.)
"October will be a very famous month in the history of the
Soviet Union," said Viktor Gerashchenko, chief of the Soviet
Behind the rhetoric of summitry, however, deep doubts remained
over prospects for resolving differences between Moscow and the
Soviet republics, maintaining debt payments, transforming the ruble
into a convertible currency, and holding the Soviet Union to
reforms that can keep ahead of the country's deepening divide.
In the meeting with officials of the industrialized countries,
Grigory Yavlinsky, the top Soviet economic planner and head of the
Soviet team here, painted a bleak picture of rapidly falling gold
reserves and a limited capacity to make debt payments during the
next two months. "The situation from a social and political point
of view will become harder and harder," he added at a seminar
yesterday on the Soviet economy.
The Soviet Union is seeking more than $10 billion to avoid
bankruptcy into early 1992, and experts estimate the country will
need as much as $200 billion to overhaul the economy.
But before that level of assistance materializes, "we need
ratification and implementation of the economic treaty," said
Canadian finance minister Donald Mazankowski. …