New Delhi: Indian-origin economist Gita Gopinath was appointed the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday, becoming only the second Indian after Raghuram Rajan to hold the prestigious post.

Rajan held the post from 2003 to 2006 before he joined the finance ministry as chief economic adviser and later the governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Gopinath, 46, succeeds Maurice “Maury" Obstfeld. Gopinath currently serves as the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Economics at Harvard University.

“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. “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," she added.

Former chief statistician of India Pronab Sen said Gopinath is a great choice. “She understands central banking unlike most previous chief economists at the IMF." Sen said she could well follow Rajan’s path to Mint Street. “It certainly makes her a candidate for the top job at RBI," Sen added.

Gopinath had earlier served as the economic adviser to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Gopinath is co-editor of the American Economic Review and co-director of the International Finance and Macroeconomics Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She is co-editor of the current Handbook of International Economics with former IMF economic counsellor Kenneth Rogoff. She has authored some 40 research articles on exchange rates, trade and investment, international financial crises, monetary policy, debt, and emerging market crises.

Gopinath is a US citizen and an overseas citizen of India. She received her PhD in economics from Princeton University in 2001 after earning a BA from the University of Delhi and MA from both the Delhi School of Economics and University of Washington. She joined the University of Chicago in 2001 as an assistant professor before moving to Harvard in 2005. She became a tenured professor there in 2010.

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