The humble ruble may be a step closer to joining the ranks of fully convertible currencies. On Apr. 27, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Yegor T. Gaidar announced plans for a single, market-determined currency-exchange rate by July 1. While Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont has suggested linking the ruble to the ECU, the Russians want to peg their money to the dollar--but with a twist. Although Western officials prefer a fixed rate, the Russians want the value of the ruble to slide 7.5% above or below a target rate to the dollar. Russian officials talk about a 50 ruble-to-the-dollar rate--though that may be unrealistic given today's rate of roughly 140 rubles to the dollar. Still, expect an overhaul of Russia's confusing patchwork of four separate exchange-rate systems by this summer. Such a change would help attract foreign investment and meet a major precondition for Western aid.

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