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The IMF in it’s press release declared that First Deputy Managing Director (FDMD) Geoffrey Okamoto will leave the Fund early next year and that Gita Gopinath, currently the IMF’s Chief Economist, is proposed to be the Fund’s new First Deputy Managing Director. In making the announcement Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF’s Managing Director said, “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.” (Ms. Gopinath had been scheduled to return to her academic position at Harvard University in January 2022).
Ms. Georgieva added: “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.”
Ms. Georgieva noted that Ms. Gopinath’s contribution to the Fund’s work has already been exceptional, especially her “intellectual leadership in helping the global economy and the Fund to navigate the twists and turns of the worst economic crisis of our lives.” She also said that Ms. Gopinath—the first female Chief Economist in IMF history—has garnered respect and admiration across our member countries and the institution, with a proven track record in leading analytically rigorous work on a broad range of issues.”
Ms. Georgieva observed that under Ms. Gopinath’s leadership, the IMF’s Research Department had gone from “strength to strength,” particularly highlighting its 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 Ms. Gopinath’s recent work on a Pandemic Plan to end the COVID-19 crisis by setting targets to vaccinate the world at feasible cost.
On her new appointment, Ms. Gopinath tweeted:
“I am honored and humbled to become the IMF’s next FDMD. Over the past three years I have had the opportunity to experience first-hand and be a part of the hugely important work done by the IMF at the intersection of rigorous economic analysis and public policy. It has been so gratifying to see the positive impact of our work on economies and on the lives of so many people worldwide. As the pandemic continues its grip on us, the work of the Fund has never been more critical and international cooperation never more important. I am very thankful to Kristalina and the Board for this opportunity, and so look forward to collaborating closely with all the incredibly brilliant and committed colleagues at the Fund, working with whom has been an absolute privilege.”
Commenting on Mr. Okamoto’s forthcoming departure from the Fund, Managing Director Georgieva said:
“Geoffrey has made important contributions across the broad range of our work program, from our lending and debt policies in a time of crisis to helping enhance our focus on trade, anti-corruption and governance issues. He has also helped guide us on a large number of country issues and in strengthening our relationships with key multilateral groups including at high-level G7 and G20 meetings.” She also highlighted Mr Okamoto’s significant role in helping to strengthen the Fund’s internal management—from budget to the modernization of technology and other systems. She added that “Geoffrey is a terrific colleague, a friend, and I speak for all of us at the Fund in wishing him the best in what is bound to be a very bright future for him.”
On his pending departure from the Fund, Mr. Okamoto said:
“It’s been a privilege to be entrusted with leading the IMF during a period of crisis and an honor to serve alongside the world’s best minds tackling the world’s most complex economic issues. I am very proud what we have been able to do for our members, made possible by the dedication and hard work of the staff. After over a decade of intensive public service, first to the United States and then to the international community, I am eager to return to the private sector and make my next contribution there. I wish Fund colleagues all the success in helping countries tackle the challenges that remain from the current crisis and chart a course to robust recovery.”
Managing Director Georgieva noted that given the increasingly complex policy choices and difficult trade-offs facing the IMF’s 190 member countries—exacerbated by the pandemic—some realignment in the roles and responsibilities of the Fund’s Senior Management Team is being undertaken. In particular, the FDMD will take the lead on surveillance and related policies, oversee research and flagship publications and help foster the highest quality standards for Fund publications.
In conclusion, Ms. Georgieva said “I could not be more pleased that Gita has decided to accept this new role as FDMD. I value highly her sound judgment, good counsel, and unwavering support. I am excited for all of us at the Fund as we look forward to continue to benefit from working closely with her in the years ahead.”
Ms. Gopinath, who is a U.S. national and overseas citizen of India, will start in her new position as FDMD on January 21, 2022.