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7 Things to Know about ‘Gita Gopinath’, IMF’s First Female Chief Economist

Mysore-born Gita Gopinath has joined International Monetary Fund as its chief economist, becoming the first woman to occupy the top IMF post. Gopinath’s joined last week at a time, when she believes the world is experiencing a retreat from globalisation, posing challenges to multilateral institutions.

Born in Kolkata and raised in Mysuru, Gita Gopinath was officially appointed on October 1, 2018 as Economic Counsellor and Director of the IMF’s Research Department by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde. She took over her new position at the IMF after the retirement of Maurice Obstfeld on December 31. She’s the 11th chief economist for the IMF and the first woman to occupy the position.

1. She currently serves as the John Zwaanstra professor of International Studies and Economics at Harvard University. She was also the co-editor of the American Economic Review and co-director of the International Finance and Macroeconomics Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. In 2011, she was a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

2. Gita Gopinath said she was inspired to pursue economics as a career during her Bachelors degree. “India experienced its first major external financing and currency crisis in 1990-91. This inspired me to pursue graduate work in economics and was the foundation for my interest in international finance,” she told The Economic Times in 2010.

3. After graduating from Lady Shri Ram College in New Delhi with a Bachelors in Economics, she completed her Masters in Economics from Delhi School of Economics. She later pursued her Doctorate in Economics from the University of Washington and Princeton University.

4. She was appointed as a permanent professor at Harvard University’s Economics Department in 2010.

5. In 2016, she was appointed by the CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala as financial advisor to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

6. Her father and mother, TV Gopinath and VC Vijayalakshmi, are both from Kerala and currently reside in Mysuru.

7. Speaking to the Harvard Gazette, Gita Gopinath said that one of the 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.”

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