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Gita Gopinath, professor at the economics department of Harvard University, will take over as the IMF's chief economist in December. Photo by Charles Platiau/Reuters

Gita Gopinath appointed chief economist of International Monetary Fund

Harvard University professor Gita Gopinath has been tapped as the International Monetary Fund’s next chief economist. She will be the first woman to hold the position.

As chief economist at the IMF, an international organization that helps stabilize exchange rates and provides loans to developing nations and countries facing financial crises, Gopinath will oversee the organization’s biannual economic forecast known as the World Economic Outlook.

She will replace Maurice Obstfeld, who plans to retire in December.

“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.

Gopinath currently serves as the co-director of the International Finance and Macroeconomics Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research and an economic adviser for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. She also served on an advisory panel for G-20 issues for India’s Ministry of Finance. In 2014, Gopinath made the IMF’s list of 25 economists under 45.

Before teaching at Harvard, Gopinath was an assistant professor at the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business.

Lagarde, who became the first woman to head the IMF in 2011, has spoken about the need for more women in economic leadership positions.

Earlier this year, Lagarde said in a speech that tackling gender inequality would boost economic growth in developing nations and said it should be “politically incorrect” not to have women on company boards.

California on Sunday became the first state to mandate companies headquartered there include women on their boards of directors. The law is expected to face a legal challenge.

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