India born Gita Gopinath to become IMF number two

Gita Gopinath
Gita Gopinath; photo credit: Harvard University

First woman Chief Economist in IMF history, Gopinath “is the right person at the right time,” says IMF chief

India born IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath is set to take the number two position at the Washington-based crisis lender next month instead of returning to her academic position at Harvard University.

Gopinath will succeed Geoffrey Okamoto as first deputy managing director, serving under IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva — the first time two women have held the top leadership roles at the International Monetary Fund.

Gopinath, a US national and overseas citizen of India, was appointed to her current role in October 2018. She was due to return to Harvard in January, but will now leave the university and start in her new job as FDMD on Jan 21, 2022.

Read: Gita Gopinath to leave IMF and return to Harvard University in January (October 20, 2021)

Describing Gopinath as “the right person at the right time,” Georgieva, said in a surprise announcement Thursday, “I am sad to see Geoffrey go but, at the same time, I am delighted that Gita has decided to stay and accept the new responsibility of being our FDMD.”

“Especially given that the pandemic has led to an increase in the scale and scope of the macroeconomic challenges facing our member countries, I believe that Gita—universally recognized as one of the world’s leading macroeconomists—has precisely the expertise that we need for the FDMD role at this point.”

“Indeed, her particular skill set—combined with her years of experience at the Fund as Chief Economist—make her uniquely well qualified. She is the right person at the right time,” she said.

“I am honored and humbled to become the IMF’s next FDMD,” said Gopinath on her new appointment. “Over the past three years I have had the opportunity to experience first-hand and be a part of the hugely important work done by the IMF at the intersection of rigorous economic analysis and public policy.”

“It has been so gratifying to see the positive impact of our work on economies and on the lives of so many people worldwide,” she said. “As the pandemic continues its grip on us, the work of the Fund has never been more critical and international cooperation never more important.”

“I am very thankful to Kristalina and the Board for this opportunity, and so look forward to collaborating closely with all the incredibly brilliant and committed colleagues at the Fund, working with whom has been an absolute privilege,” Gopinath said.

Georgieva noted that Gopinath’s contribution to the Fund’s work has already been exceptional, especially her “intellectual leadership in helping the global economy and the Fund to navigate the twists and turns of the worst economic crisis of our lives.”

Read: Indian American Gita Gopinath named IMF Economic Counselor and Director of Research (October 1, 2018)

She also said that Gopinath—the first female Chief Economist in IMF history—has “garnered respect and admiration across our member countries and the institution, with a proven track record in leading analytically rigorous work on a broad range of issues.”

Georgieva observed that under Gopinath’s leadership, the IMF’s Research Department had gone from “strength to strength,” particularly highlighting its contributions in multilateral surveillance via The World Economic Outlook.

She described it as a new analytical approach to help countries respond to international capital flows, the integrated policy framework.

Georgieva also praised Gopinath’s recent work on a Pandemic Plan to end the COVID-19 crisis by setting targets to vaccinate the world at feasible cost.

Gopinath, she said, will take the lead on surveillance and related policies, oversee research and flagship publications and help foster the highest quality standards for Fund publications.

“I could not be more pleased that Gita has decided to accept this new role as FDMD. I value highly her sound judgment, good counsel, and unwavering support,” Georgieva said. “I am excited for all of us at the Fund as we look forward to continue to benefit from working closely with her in the years ahead.”

The Indian government has awarded Gopinath the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, the highest honor conferred on overseas Indians.

From 2016-18, she was the Economic Adviser to the Chief Minister of Kerala state in India. She also served as a member of the Eminent Persons Advisory Group on G-20 Matters for India’s Ministry of Finance.

Born in India, Gopinath received her PhD in economics from Princeton University in 2001 after earning a BA from Lady Shri Ram College and MA degrees from Delhi School of Economics and University of Washington.

Currently the Economic Counsellor and Director of the Research Department, Gopinath is on leave of public service from Harvard University’s Economics department where she is the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and of Economics.

Gopinath’s research, which focuses on International Finance and Macroeconomics, has been published in many top economics journals.

She has authored numerous research articles on exchange rates, trade and investment, international financial crises, monetary policy, debt, and emerging market crises.

She is the co-editor of the current Handbook of International Economics and was earlier the co-editor of the American Economic Review and managing editor of the Review of Economic Studies.

She had also previously served as the co-director of the International Finance and Macroeconomics program at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and member of the economic advisory panel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Gopinath is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Econometric Society, and recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Washington.

Read: Gita Gopinath To Become IMF No. Two Official In Surprise Move (December 3, 2021)

In 2021, the Financial Times named her one of the 25 Most Influential Women of the Year. In 2019, Foreign Policy named her one of the Top Global Thinkers, in 2014, she was named one of the top 25 economists under 45 by the IMF and in 2011 she was chosen a Young Global Leader (YGL) by the World Economic Forum.

Before joining the faculty of Harvard University in 2005, she was an assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Read: US-China trade war will hurt India: Gita Gopinath (March 26, 2018)

Read: Gita Gopinath’s appointment sparks row in Kerala (July 25, 2016)

Read: Harvard Professor Gita Gopinath appointed financial advisor to Kerala Chief Minister (July 22, 2016)

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