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Top IMF Economist Heads Back to Harvard Job

Gita Gopinath, first woman to hold the position, returns to academia after three-year stint at multilateral lender

Gita Gopinath was a visiting scholar at both the IMF and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and a member of the economic advisory panel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Photo: Reuters


Gita Gopinath, chief economist and research director at the International Monetary Fund, will leave the multilateral lender in January 2022 and return to Harvard University.

Gopinath, who was the first woman to be appointed as chief economist, will have served for three years.

“Gita’s contribution to the fund and our membership has been truly remarkable — quite simply, her impact on the IMF’s work has been tremendous,” said IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva in an announcement posted on the lender’s website.

“We benefitted immensely from her sharp intellect and deep knowledge of international finance and macroeconomics as we navigate through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” she added.

Gopinath is perhaps best known as a co-author of the so-called “Pandemic Paper,” a guide on how to end the Covid-19 pandemic that set globally endorsed targets for vaccinating the world.

Task force creation

This work led to the creation of the Multilateral Task Force made up of the leadership of the IMF, World Bank, World Trade Organization and World Health Organization to help end the pandemic.

The task force established a working group with vaccine manufacturers to identify trade barriers, supply bottlenecks and accelerate delivery of vaccines to low- and lower-middle income countries.

“A principal common factor behind the complex challenges countries face is the continued grip of the pandemic on global society,” Gopinath wrote last week in her official IMF blog. “We must step up efforts to ensure equitable vaccine access for every country and secure better prospects for all.”

Gopinath, who holds US and Indian citizenship, was previously the John Zwaanstra professor of international studies and economics at Harvard.

She was a visiting scholar at both the IMF and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and a member of the economic advisory panel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Gopinath is also an economic adviser to the chief minister of India’s Kerala state and a member of the Eminent Persons Advisory Group on G-20 Matters for India’s finance ministry.

Before joining Harvard in 2005, Gopinath was an assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

The IMF said it would soon begin a search for her successor.


  • George Russell



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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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