The International Monetary Fund (IMF) named Gita Gopinath, its outgoing chief economist, as its First Deputy Managing Director (FDMD), the global lending agency's second-highest position behind the managing director.

Gopinath planned to leave the IMF in January of next year to resume her academic career at Harvard University, where she had spent the previous three years.  Gopinath said, “I am honored to become the IMF’s First Deputy Managing Director. With the pandemic, the work of the Fund has never been more important. I look forward to working with my brilliant colleagues to help our membership face these important challenges”.

Gopinath, a U.S. national and Indian foreign citizen, will take over as FDMD on January 21, 2022, after current FDMD Geoffrey Okamoto leaves the Fund early next year. Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF's Managing Director, stated in a statement, “both Geoffrey and Gita are tremendous colleagues—I am sad to see Geoffrey go but, at the same time, I am delighted that Gita has decided to stay and accept the new responsibility of being our FDMD. 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. Indeed, her particular skill set—combined with her years of experience at the Fund as Chief Economist—make her uniquely well qualified. She is the right person at the right time”.

Gopinath's contribution to the Fund's work has already been remarkable, according to Georgieva, particularly her "intellectual leadership in assisting the global economy and the Fund in navigating the twists and turns of the worst economic crisis of our lives." She further stated that Gopinath, the IMF's first female Chief Economist, has earned the respect and admiration of our member countries and the institution, owing to her demonstrated track record of conducting analytically rigorous work on a wide array of issues.

The IMF's Research Department had gone from “strength to strength” under Gopinath's leadership, Georgieva said, pointing to the department's contributions in multilateral surveillance via The World Economic Outlook, a new analytical approach to help countries respond to international capital flows (the integrated policy framework), and Gopinath's recent work on a Pandemic Plan to end the COVID-19 crisis by setting targets to vaccinate the world at a reasonable cost.

Gopinath was the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Economics in Harvard's economics department prior to her appointment as IMF Chief Economist. She has served as a visiting scholar at the IMF and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, as a member of India's Ministry of Finance's Eminent Persons Advisory Group on G-20 Matters, as the Economic Adviser to the Chief Minister of Kerala State in India, and as a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's economic advisory panel.

Following a BA from the University of Delhi and MA from the Delhi School of Economics and the University of Washington, Gopinath received her PhD in economics from Princeton University in 2001. She was an assistant professor at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business before joining Harvard in 2005. In 2010, she was promoted to tenured professor at the university.