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Harvard Can Wait: In a Surprise Move Gita Gopinath to Remain at the IMF as First Deputy Managing Director

Harvard Can Wait: In a Surprise Move Gita Gopinath to Remain at the IMF as First Deputy Managing Director

  • The first woman to serve as chief economist at the financial institution, she replaces Geoffrey Okamoto, who will leave the Fund early next year.

Gita Gopinath, Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund, has been named the financial institution’s new first deputy managing director. The IMF announced on Dec. 2, that Gopinath, the first woman to serve as its chief economist, replaces Geoffrey Okamoto, who will leave the Fund early next year. 

The move comes as a surprise, due to an October announcement by Gopinath informing her return to Harvard University in January to retain her tenured facility post after three years of public service. Before her appointment at IMF, she was the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Economics at Harvard University.

“I am honored to become the IMF’s First Deputy Managing Director,” Gopinath tweeted. “With the pandemic, the work of the Fund has never been more important. I look forward to working with my brilliant colleagues to help our membership face these important challenges.”

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, in a statement, expressed her happiness on Gopinath’s decision to stay and accept the new responsibility. “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,” Georgieva said. “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.”

At IMF Gopinath has worked on several initiatives including authoring the “Pandemic Paper” on how to end the COVID-19 pandemic. “This work led to the creation of the Multilateral Task Force to help end the pandemic,” as well as the “establishment of a working group with vaccine manufacturers to identify trade barriers, supply bottlenecks, and accelerate delivery of vaccines to low- and lower-middle-income countries,” IMF says. She also helped set up a climate change team inside the IMF “to analyze, among other things, optimal climate mitigation policies.”

The India-born Gopinath is a U.S. citizen and an Overseas Citizen of India. She received her Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University in 2001 after earning a B.A. from Lady Shri Ram College and M.A. degrees from Delhi School of Economics and University of Washington. 

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Apart from being a professor at Harvard, Gopinath was a visiting scholar at both the IMF and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. She was also a member of the economic advisory panel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, economic adviser to the Chief Minister of Kerala, and member of the Eminent Persons Advisory Group on G-20 Matters for India’s Ministry of Finance. Before joining Harvard in 2005, she was an assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

She is married to Iqbal Singh Dhaliwal, the global executive director at Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at the Department of Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The couple has a son named Rohil.

(Top photo, Gita Gopinath with her husband Iqbal Singh Dhaliwal and son Rohil.)

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