Prominent Indian-American economist Gita Gopinath has joined as the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, becoming the first woman to occupy the top post at the global lender. Gopinath, 47, joined last week at a time, when she believes the world is experiencing a retreat from globalisation, posing challenges to multilateral institutions. The John Zwaanstra professor of International Studies and Economics at Harvard University, Gopinath, a US citizen, succeeds Maurice (Maury) Obstfeld as Economic Counsellor and Director of the IMF’s Research Department.
Obstfeld retired December 31. The 11th chief economist of the IMF, Mysore-born Gopinath in a recent interview to The Harvard Gazette described her appointment at the IMF as a “tremendous honour” and said the appointment of the first ever woman for this position speaks highly of IMF’s Managing Director Lagarde. Identifying some of her top priorities at the IMF, Gopinath told The Harvard Gazette that she would like the IMF to continue to be a place that provides intellectual leadership on important policy questions. Most countries invoice their trade in dollars and borrow internationally in dollars. This is a central part of the international price system and the international financial system and it will be exciting to explore its consequences in greater depth with the IMF, she said. “The one (biggest issues being faced by the IMF) that is absolutely clear and present is that we are seeing the first serious retreat from globalisation. This has not happened in the past 50 or 60 years, when the world moved toward lower tariffs and increasing trade across countries,” she told the prestigious Harvard publication.