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Mysuru-born Gita Gopinath joins IMF as its first female chief economist

Washington, Jan 9 (PTI): 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.

Announcing her appointment on October 1, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde described her as “one of the world’s outstanding economists with impeccable academic credentials, a proven track record of intellectual leadership and extensive international experience.” The 11th chief economist of the IMF, Mysuru-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.

“She is phenomenal, not just in her leadership of the IMF but as a role model for women around the world,” she said.

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.

“Among the research issues that I would like to push, one would be understanding the role of dominant currencies like the dollar in international trade and finance. We could do more on the empirical side to try to understand countries’ dollar exposures and on the theoretical side in terms of the implications for international spillovers, consequences of dollar shortages, etc,” she said.

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.

Gopinath considers the perceived retreat from globalisation as one of the top challenges being faced by the IMF.

“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.

“Over the past several months, we have the US-imposed tariffs and retaliation to them from China and other nations. There is in general growing uncertainty about trade policy, including the one arising out of Brexit (the British move to leave the European Union).

“While the trade has reduced global poverty and raised livelihoods, its consequences for inequality, and on whether the rules of engagement are fair, are real concerns that need to be addressed,” she said.

Gopinath said there is also a concern about whether there is the right multilateral institutions and frameworks in place to make sure everybody feels that there is fairness in trade. “And the same goes for capital flows,” she added.

“Foreign direct investment (FDI) was always viewed very favourably by countries. But because most of the FDI is now in tech-heavy firms, there are growing concerns about national security and international property theft. So I believe this retreat from globalisation and this retreat from multilateralism is quite unique to the times we are living in,” Gopinath said.

Another important concern, she said, is the health of emerging markets as the US continues to normalize its interest rates.

The capital flows to several markets have reversed, putting pressure on their exchange rates and consequently on inflation, and on balance sheets, given that several emerging markets borrow heavily in dollars, said the IMF chief economist.


Comment on this article

  • Rita, Germany

    Thu, Jan 10 2019

    It is great honour to our country in the first place,second to as a woman honoured in USA to get a highest position.Wish her all the best.India on the other hand lost such a good well educated ,top economist ,.sad.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Ranga Nayak, Shimoga

    Wed, Jan 9 2019

    Congratulations to you Gita Gopinath. It's only because of USA you gained this position. If it was in India, BJP would have searched for a Male economist to report Chaiwala.

    DisAgree [6] Agree [15] Reply Report Abuse

  • Prashanth, Bangalore

    Wed, Jan 9 2019

    She was rejected by Kerala govt

    DisAgree [4] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • abdulla, india

    Wed, Jan 9 2019

    Time to bring the Cream back into india.Give them the charge..portfolio..and leave them alone.... to function independently with their Profession...position.
    Too many illiterates interfering is causing the KUCHIMBAR in our Political circles...
    We need less of Bureaucrats.. who just warm the SEATS.. and go by the figures fed to them...rather than being practical..hands on... and these guys are instrumental in decision making.
    Min Govt max Governance is the need of the hour.
    Singapore had one CEO .who was no less than FIREBRAND Leader called Great LEE KWAN YEW
    the Architect of modern Singapore.
    No nonsense.. plain talking.hard working..practical.. DYNAMO.
    who steered Singapore to this history..
    We have too many JOKERS.
    Talking too much .most Corrupt, we hear on daily basis .......on news/TV..
    Going after each others. Throat.. EXPOSING...each other.
    Goal no1:
    How can you make India most Clean.. nation... Meaning on ground and in Governance with EVERY Politicians ..who should ONLY be professionals.. Non Corrupt. lifting all poor into mid Income Bracket?
    Bring in scientists/doctors/ Engineers/ Chartered accountants/..professors.../Economists./Teachers/
    to guide and run the fate of 1.3 Billion indians.
    Be serious..get your acts together.
    select only the best with CREDIBILITY only..
    we do not want to loose and waste time for 5 years again.
    We need them to give in writing :
    the Goals: their Strategies...Fund allocation.

    DisAgree Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • Evans Christopher Sumitra, Udupi/New York, USA.

    Wed, Jan 9 2019

    My hats off to Mysuru-born Gita Gopinath as you join IMF as the first female economist. It is an honor for all of us and we are proud of you. We wish you all the very best as you take over your new assignment.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Anil, Dubai

    Wed, Jan 9 2019

    Born in Kolkata, Studied in Mysuru,...., hails from Kerala...
    but proud as she is from ...India

    DisAgree Agree [17] Reply Report Abuse

  • Swamy, Mangalore

    Wed, Jan 9 2019

    India badly needs such people at this hour. People need them. Our economy needs them but our BJP govt in the centre is allergic to people who are smarter than them who do a excellent job independently. Rahul Gandhi who out smarts BJP in every category is been rediculed for his smart ways to deal with BJP and trouncing BJP in 5 states flat which BJP still can not digest and having sleepless nights but can not admit but to redicule him form shit hole.

    DisAgree [5] Agree [20] Reply Report Abuse

  • Pai, Mangalore

    Wed, Jan 9 2019

    Need the help of other parties to form govt in Rajasthan and MP. This is called flat??

    DisAgree [11] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Swamy, Mangalore

    Wed, Jan 9 2019

    Why you couldn't form a coalition govt while you could do in Goa and Mizoram with only 2 BJP seats unconstitutionally from back door entry?????...

    DisAgree [2] Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse

  • Francis Lewis, Kallianpur

    Wed, Jan 9 2019

    That sharp looks says that all..

    DisAgree [2] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Karthik, Konaje/Navi Mumbai

    Wed, Jan 9 2019

    Like Nirmala Sitaraman

    DisAgree [15] Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • Flavian, Mangaluru/Kuwait

    Wed, Jan 9 2019

    By virtue of Mr. Modi's track records being PM and pioneer in economic reforms and various measures he undertook to achieve economic growth and holding rupee exchange value today, he deserves to be an adviser in some intl. monetary organization.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [15] Reply Report Abuse

  • Flavian, Mangaluru/Kuwait

    Wed, Jan 9 2019

    Our country too needs such highly qualified and experienced Economist with extensive international experience. Sooner the better because of complexity in economic reforms and the failures where we stand today.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [25] Reply Report Abuse

  • abdul, udupi

    Wed, Jan 9 2019

    We can just say "We, as Kannadigas are proud of you Madam". Keep our flag flying high with genuine reforms

    DisAgree [5] Agree [34] Reply Report Abuse

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