City National Bank has hired a veteran of the Bush and Reagan administrations as consulting economist for its trust and investment management division.

Michael R. Darby, who was under secretary of commerce for economic affairs from 1989 to 1992, joined the Beverly Hills bank last month.

Mr. Darby, currently a professor at University of California, Los Angeles, also served in the Reagan administration's Treasury Department.

At City National, Mr. Darby is advising portfolio managers, providing monthly economic forecasts and interest rate and capital-flow projections, and meeting with key clients.

"He's able to present his findings and analysis not only to a group like the Federal Reserve, but also to the astute lay investor," said Vernon C. Kozlen, executive president of City National Investments.

City National administers $7 billion for wealthy clients, middle market businesses, and other institutional investors.

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