West German Central Bank President Karl Otto Poehl, said yesterday he "has no intention" of urging lower U.S. interest rates "simply because that would make life easier for us.
In a conversation with Washington Post editors and reporters, Poehl -- here to meet members of the Reagan administration and discuss monetary problems with Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker -- said the recent weakness of the German mark can be traced to the strength of the dollar, in turn largely a reflection of unusually high American interest rates.
Political leaders in West Germany, including Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and Finance Minister Hans Matthoefer, have openly indicated concern about the high level of interest rates here, and to some extent they have been critical of American policy responsible for those rates.
In his wide-ranging talk, Poehl:
Said "it is crucial" for the Reagan administration to continue to support, as did the Carter administration, an enhanced and strengthened role for the International Monetary Fund, which helps poor countries meet their balance of payments problems. "More and more countries are reaching or approaching the limits of their credit-worthiness," he said.
Predicted that the wealthy oil-exporting countries would be willing to lend large amounts of money to the IMF. Saudi Arabia, "which really is a very reasonable country" will cooperate fully with the IMF, assuming that the industrialized nations also increase their lending and that the Saudis achieve a greater role in the IMF power structure. "They want to become a respectable member of this 'club,' and I think they are absolutely justified."
Expressed sympathy with the administration's apparent intention to let exchange rates fluctuate without too much intervention: "I was never in favor of heavy intervention [to prop up currency prices] like [former Treasury undersecretary] Tony Solomon advocated."
Forecast that the 30 percent depreciation of the mark against the Japanese yen would soon give German products a new competitive edge.
Poehl indicated that he, too, would be happy to see American interest rates come down, but said, "I fully understand that as long as you have this high rate of inflation in the U.S. the Federal Reserve has no choice except to keep the monetary aggregates under control. And that means high rates of interest . . . which creates a lot of problems for other countries, no way of denying that."
The central bank president offered the view, also, that the high value of the dollar in international markets at the moment is due to the "expectation, right or wrong, justified or not, that the new [American] administration will pursue policies that will be good for the economy and good for the dollar." It remains to be seen, he added, whether President Reagan's policies actually will produce the desired results.