WATERVILLE VALLEY, N.H. -- Ten state treasurers are among the more than 80 investment advisers and financial consultants planning to visit the Soviet Union together this fall, an investment banker helping to put the venture together said yesterday.
"If there's going to be economic reform, if they're moving rapidly toward a market economy, they'll need us," said Philip Schafer, a managing director at Bear, Stearns & Co., between panel discussions at the National Association of State Treasurers conference being held here.
Mr. Schafer said the group was still waiting for an official invitation and that recent events in the Soviet Union meant many of the details of the trip still had to be worked out, but he thought it would be held sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
"Free trade with the Soviet Union is very important to our economy," said Michael L. Fitzgerald, Iowa's treasurer.
He would be interested in discussing grain exports while there, the Iowan said. "We're going to let people over there know that we want to do business with them."
He added that the treasurers would also share various public finance techniques and government accounting systems with the Soviets.
Few details of the trip were immediately available, but the treasurers of Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Idaho, as will as Iowa, are known to be interested in the eight-day visit.
No single issue had dominated discussion among the 525 attendees at the treasurers' 16th annual conference.
Edward Alter, Utah's treasurer, said there were few hard issues topping the agenda; he noted that the organization was "working with the Anthony Commission" in Washington "to get what we can." The commission last year put together a slate and local issuance of tax-exempt bonds.
Several women treasurers apparently put forth a motion to move or boycott the group's 1994 meeting, now scheduled for New Orleans, in light of Louisiana's consideration of laws restricting abortion.
"It was brought up, the choice issue," said Mary Ellen Withrow, Ohio's treasurer and 1992 president of the group. "But in 1994, we're going to New Orleans."
Bankers at the conference in interviews and conversations have expressed support for further issuer disclosure. They also have expressed some disappointment with the recent scandal involving Salomon Brothers Inc.'s operations in the Treasury market, saying it blackened Wall Street's eye.
"I feel like I've been had," said one banker. "Here I've been spending the last few years going to Washington to help gain credibility for the Street, and this happens. It sets the effort back."
But mostly, the bankers assembled here were interested in one thing. As one banker put it: "Clients! I'd like to talk with you guys, but I have to see about talking to some clients. It's what I do, you know."
Allen Sinai, chief economist of the Boston Co., gave them all cause for some cheer at today's lunch. Mr. Sinai told the treasurers he thought "borrowing costs will stay low, and you can save a lot of money by refinancing." He predicted that the Bond Buyer Index will finish the year at 6.72%, and that tax-exempt volume would be "a little heavier than last year."
Staff reporter Ted Hampton contributed to this article.