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WORLD ECONOMYThe three newly independent Baltic states are attending the annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund for the first time since the two agencies were formed almost half a century ago. Their representatives are discussing their applications for membership at the meeting, which opened Oct. 15 in Bangkok. Germany's Bundesbank president, Helmut Schlesinger, said there was an agreement among the G-7 (leading industrial nations) that the economic situation in the Soviet Union had to be cl arified and that a team of senior G-7 financial officials would be going to the Soviet Union to investigate options for helping. The IMF has estimated that the extra demands for cash for reconstruction of the Gulf and economic reforms in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union could run as high as $100 billion per year. IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus said such help can be financed only if nations live up to their promises to cut budget deficits, especially by reducing military outlays and agriculture su bsidies. MIDDLE EAST The kidnappers of Western hostages in Lebanon told UN envoy Giandomenico Picco, a top aide to UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, they are concerned for their own safety once the captives have been released, Muslim sources said. The kidnappers are thought to be pressing demands for international guarantees for their safety. These demands are thought to be one of the hurdles holding up a comprehensive exchange.

UNITED STATES A survey on Oct. 13 showed that three out of every four Americans paid close attention to the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill controversy over the past weekend. An ABC News poll released Oct. 14 found that 54 percent of Americans believed that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had not sexually harassed law professor Anita Hill. Some 37 percent were inclined to believe Hill's claim.... Professor Ronald Coase, professor emeritus in economics at the University of Chicago's Law School, has won the 1991 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. A British native, he was honored for clarification of the significance of transactions costs and property rights for the functioning of the economy.

OTHER WORLD NEWS The republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina approved moves toward independence from Yugoslavia Oct. 15, and fighting raged in Croatia, pushing the Balkan federation closer to collapse.... In Moscow, a government committee declared Oct. 14 the notorious system of residence permits was unconstitutional and ordered it formally abolished at the beginning of next year. The permits dictate where Soviet citizens can live and work.... Five Salvadoran leftist guerrilla chiefs were flown out of battle zones to Mexico City Oct. 14, the third day of a renewed round of UN-sponsored peace negotiations.

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