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IMF says chief economist taking top leadership role

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The IMF’s high-profile chief economist Gita Gopinath next month will become the number two official at the Washington-based crisis lender, the fund announced Thursday.

Gopinath will succeed Geoffrey Okamoto as first deputy managing director, serving under IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva -- the first time two women have held the top leadership roles.

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Georgieva call Gopinath “the right person at the right time” to take the leadership role.

“Especially given that the pandemic has led to an increase in the scale and scope of the macroeconomic challenges facing our member countries, I believe that Gita -- universally recognized as one of the world’s leading macroeconomists -- has precisely the expertise that we need for the FDMD role at this point,” Georgieva said in the statement.

“Indeed, her particular skill set -- combined with her years of experience at the Fund as Chief Economist -- make her uniquely well qualified.”

Gopinath, who was appointed to her current role in October 2018, was due to return to her position at Harvard University in January but will now leave the university. She was born in India but also is a US citizen.

The economist, who leads the IMF team that produces the closely-watched quarterly World Economic Outlook, became a much more visible figure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She displayed “intellectual leadership in helping the global economy and the Fund to navigate the twists and turns of the worst economic crisis of our lives,” Georgieva said.

Gopinath said that “As the pandemic continues its grip on us, the work of the Fund has never been more critical and international cooperation never more important.”

Read more: IMF board backs Georgieva after reviewing claims of data-rigging in favor of China

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