At the opening of the Davos forum on Wednesday, Putin gave an acid speech in which he stressed the faults of the US economic system and cautioned against state power -- a reference to US bank and insurance nationalisations.
"I'm glad to hear Prime Minister Putin come out for free enterprise. I hope it works for him," Clinton said to laughter in the conference hall here, poking fun at Putin's credentials on the subject.
The former Russian president presided over a transfer of power from the private sector to the state during his eight years as head of state, consolidating the energy and other strategic sectors in Kremlin hands.
The moves were seen as a response to the chaotic privatisations of Russian industry at the beginning of the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.