Indian American Gita Gopinath Becomes First Woman Chief Economist at International Monetary Fund

Gita Gopinath, who will be the first woman to hold the chief economist's post at the International Monetary Fund, will replace Maurice Obstfeld.


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has appointed Gita Gopinath as its chief economist. Gopinath will become the first woman to hold the top post at the organization.

“Gita 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 in a statement announcing the appointment. “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.”

Gopinath currently serves as the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Economics at Harvard University. She will replace Maurice Moses Obstfeld, who is retiring at the end of this year.

Gopinath, 46, was born in Mysuru, India, and earned a B.A. degree from the University of Delhi and M.A. degrees from the Delhi School of Economics (1994) and the University of Washington (1996). In 2001, she completed her Ph.D. from Princeton University.  She joined the University of Chicago in 2001 as an Assistant Professor before moving to Harvard in 2005.

Gopinath is an American citizen. She lives in Weston, Massachusetts, with her husband Iqbal Dhalibal and their son Rohil. She is also the managing editor of the Review of Economic Studies and was chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2011. In 2014, she was named among the top 25 economists under 45 by the IMF.

Her father, Gopinath TV, is a farmer-entrepreneur who lives in Mysuru. Her mother runs a pre-primary school in the Karnataka city. Both of them hail from Kannur in Kerala.

“I am very happy, happy beyond words. Now I can celebrate properly. I would have thrown a party, but I’m getting old,” the 81-year-old father told News18.

Gopinath would be the second Indian to hold the position at the Washington DC-based IMF, after Raghuram Rajan. The former Reserve Bank of India Governor was the Chief Economist and Director of Research at IMF from 2003 to 2006.

Gopinath specializes in macroeconomics and trade, and is the co-director of the International Finance and Macroeconomics program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, member of the economic advisory panel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Economic Adviser to the Chief Minister of Kerala.

She will be the first woman to head the research department, which produces IMF’s flagship publication, the World Economic Outlook.

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