Ayers, will hold that title at Fleet Boston Corp, the company to result from its planned fourth-quarter merger with BankBoston Corp.
Nicholas S. Perna, Fleet's own chief economist since 1995, has decided to pursue teaching and writing opportunities, the company said.
Mr. Ayers joined BankBoston in 1979 and has been its chief economist since 1990. He is also the chairman of the American Bankers Association's Economic Advisory Committee.
Before joining BankBoston he was an economist for the Federal Reserve board of governors in Washington.
Fleet also said that Agnes Bundy Scanlan, its managing director of corporate community development, has taken another newly created job -- managing director of privacy -- at Fleet and will hold that title at the merged company.
In the new post Ms. Scanlan oversees efforts to safeguard customer information. She will also retain the community job until after the merger, continuing to be responsible for Community Reinvestment Act compliance and economic development efforts.
Ms. Scanlan joined the company in 1994 as a senior vice president and director of corporate community development; she was promoted to managing director in 1998.Earlier she was counsel to the Senate Budget Committee.