From Harvard professor to Chief Economist of IMF: Gita Gopinath

Chennai: India-born Gita Gopinath has been appointed chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde appointed Gita Gopinath as Economic Counsellor and Director of the IMF’s Research Department in October 2018. And she was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  She is also the second Indian after former Reserve Bank of India’s governor Raghuram Rajan to hold the position.

Gita Gopinath becoming the second India-born to be appointed to the position

Gita Gopinath is the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and of Economics at Harvard University. Gita is also the co-director of the International Finance and Macroeconomics program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She is also a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and a member of the economic advisory panel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Besides, she is the co-editor of American Economic Review. In 2018, she was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Gita was born in India and did her study on Economics in Delhi. Later on she moved to the United States for higher education. She finished her second Masters degree in Economics from University of Washington. In 2001, She completed her Ph.D. in Economics from Princeton University, where economist Ken Rogoff and former chair of the US Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke were among her mentors. Gopinath’s specialisation is in international macroeconomics and trade.

“When you’re growing up in India, everybody expects you to become a doctor or an engineer and not exactly an economist” Gopinath had earlier told The Harvard Gazette in an interview. At Delhi University, Gopinath chose economics to prepare for Indian Administrative Service (IAS). However, she later discovered that she had ‘absolutely zero administrative skills’. “I was more of a geek, and better with my books than anything else,” she had said.

 

After the studies got over in United States, Gopinath began working as Assistant Professor of Economics at University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business. She then moved to Harvard where she is currently the Professor of International Studies and of Economics.

She was appointed as Financial Advisor to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in 2016. Gopinath had earlier served as a member of the Eminent Persons Advisory Group on G-20 Matters for India’s Ministry of Finance.

An advocate neo-liberal economics, her selection as advisor to Kerala CM created quite a stir as many members of Communist Party of India (Marxist) opposed her views.

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.

Gopinath has published papers on exchange rates, world currencies, sovereign debt, among others.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said, “Gopinath is one of the world’s outstanding economists, with impeccable academic credentials, a proven track record of intellectual leadership, and extensive international experience.”

“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.

 

 

Born in December 1971 to Malayalee parents, Gita did her schooling from Calcutta and graduated from the Lady Shri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi. She completed her Master’s degree from the Delhi School of Economics as well as from the University of Washington.

Her father, TV 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.

In 2017, she received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Washington. She was chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2011.