Gita Gopinath has been named as Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), becoming the second Indian to be appointed to the position. Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan had served as Chief Economist of the IMF.
Gopinath would succeed Maurice (Maury) Obstfeld, who is to retire at the end of 2018, the IMF said in a statement Monday. Currently, Gopinath is the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Economics at Harvard University.
Earlier in 2016, her appointment as financial advisor to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had generated controversy as some communist leaders questioned the CPM-led state government for roping in a person who was more into market economy and liberal policies.
"Gopinath is one of the world's outstanding economists, with impeccable academic credentials, a proven track record of intellectual leadership, and extensive international experience," IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said.
"All this makes her exceptionally well-placed to lead our Research Department at this important juncture. I am delighted to name such a talented figure as our Chief Economist," Lagarde added.
Gopinath did her PhD in economics from Princeton University in 2001 and she was guided by Kenneth Rogoff, Ben Bernanke and Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas. The economist joined the University of Chicago in 2001 as an Assistant Professor before moving to Harvard in 2005. She became a tenured Professor there in 2010.
She is the third woman in the history of Harvard to be a tenured professor at its esteemed economics department and the first Indian since the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen to hold that position.
According to the IMF statement, Gopinath who is a US citizen and an Overseas Citizen of India, is co-editor of the American Economic Review and co-director of the International Finance and Macroeconomics Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).
She is co-editor of the current Handbook of International Economics with former IMF Economic Counsellor Kenneth Rogoff. Gopinath has authored some 40 research articles on exchange rates, trade and investment, international financial crises, monetary policy, debt and emerging market crises.
Born in December 1971 to Malayalee parents, Gita had her schooling in Calcutta and graduated from the Lady Shri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi. She did Masters from the Delhi School of Economics as well as from the University of Washington.
In 2014, she was named one of the top 25 economists under 45 by the IMF and was chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2011. Her father, T V Gopinath is a farmer and mother is a homemaker. Both hail from Kannur district in Kerala.
Gita is married to Iqbal Singh Dhaliwal, who is an executive director at Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at the Department of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.