IMF’s Chief Economist Gita Gopinath will leave her job in January next
year and return to the prestigious Harvard University, according to the
global financial institution.
The 49-year-old prominent Indian-American economist had joined the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the Chief Economist in January 2019.
She was the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and
Economics at Harvard University when she joined the Washington-based
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Tuesday announced that the
search for Gopinath’s successor would begin shortly.
Gita’s contribution to the Fund and our membership has been truly
remarkable – quite simply, her impact on the IMF’s work has been
tremendous, Georgieva said.
Mysuru-born Gopinath is the first-ever woman Chief Economist of the IMF.
Harvard University had extended her leave of absence on an exceptional
basis by one year, which has allowed her to serve as Chief Economist at
the IMF for three years.
She made history as the first female Chief Economist of the Fund and we
benefited immensely from her sharp intellect and deep knowledge of
international finance and macroeconomics as we navigate through the
worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Gita also won the respect and admiration of colleagues in the Research
Department across the Fund, and throughout the membership for leading
analytically rigorous work and policy-relevant projects with high impact
and influence, Georgieva said.
The IMF said that as part of her many significant initiatives, Gopinath
co-authored the Pandemic Paper on how to end the COVID-19 pandemic 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, the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation
and the World Health Organisation to help end the pandemic and 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, the IMF said in a statement.
Among her other key accomplishments, Gopinath helped set up a Climate
Change team inside the IMF to analyse, among other things, optimal
climate mitigation policies.
I would like to express my personal appreciation to Gita for her
impressive contributions, her always wise counsel, her devotion for the
mission of the Research Department and the Fund more broadly, as well as
her widely recognised inclusive and accessible approach to colleagues
and staff, Georgieva added.
Born in December 1971 to Malayalee parents, Gopinath had her schooling
in Kolkata 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.
Gopinath did her Ph.D in economics from Princeton University in 2001 and
she was guided by Kenneth Rogoff, Ben Bernanke and Pierre-Olivier
She joined the University of Chicago in 2001 as an Assistant Professor
before moving to Harvard in 2005. She became a tenured Professor there
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.