Gita Gopinath, the India-born, first female chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is set to take over from Geoffrey Okamoto as the multilateral institution’s number 2 official in early 2022.
The elevation to the post of first deputy managing director (FDMD) came just months after Gopinath had said she intended to re-join Harvard University in January 2022 to retain her tenured facility post after completing three years at the IMF.
In a statement late on Thursday the IMF said “some realignment in the roles and responsibilities of the fund’s senior management team is being undertaken”.
Okamoto plans to return to the private sector.
Some analysts say the first deputy managing director is usually nominated by the US and appointed by the IMF’s managing director.
Gopinath, as first deputy managing director, “will take the lead on surveillance and related policies, oversee research and flagship publications and help foster the highest-quality standards for fund publications”.
IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said, “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 recognised 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,” Georgieva added.
As its chief economist, Gopinath led the IMF’s research department through the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis and a global economic meltdown, the worst peacetime debacle since the Great Depression.
Gopinath joined the IMF at the start of 2019, replacing Maury Obstfeld, after having taught in Harvard’s economics department since 2005.
As part of her initiatives, Gopinath co-authored the “Pandemic Paper” on how to end the Covid-19 crisis that set globally endorsed targets for vaccinating the world. This work led to the creation of the multilateral task force made up of the leadership of the IMF, World Bank, WTO and WHO to help end the pandemic. It also helped set up a working group with vaccine manufacturers to identify trade barriers, supply bottlenecks, and accelerate delivery of vaccines to low-and lower-middle income countries, according to the IMF.
She holds a doctorate in economics from Princeton University, where former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke was among her advisers (before he became the Fed chief).