It is a timely appointment. The French Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, specialist, among others, of the global financial and monetary system, has been appointed chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), at a time when the institution fears turbulence in emerging countries and where the debt worldwide has reached the record figure of 226 trillion dollars (199 trillion euros). “Pierre-Olivier is known for his ability to spot emerging trends and for his expertise in analyzing today’s most pressing economic problems”, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva explained when her appointment was announced on January 10.
Professor at the American University of California-Berkeley since 2003, Mr. Gourinchas, aged 53, is also in charge of programs on finance and international macroeconomics at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in the United States. After studying at the Ecole Polytechnique, the Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, the economist from Montpellier left to do a thesis at the American University of MIT. He is one of the many French economists to have crossed the Atlantic to teach there, like Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman, Stefanie Stantcheva or Esther Duflo.
” The man for the job “
In 2008, he received the award for best economist under 40, awarded by The world and the Circle of Economists. “He has proven his abilities in scholarship”, specified Mme Georgieva before praising his expertise in “Key macroeconomic areas”, ranging from “Global imbalances to capital flows to the stability of the international monetary and financial system and, more recently, to economic policies in the era of the pandemic”.
At the start of the pandemic, he pleaded for a debt moratorium in poor countries vis-à-vis their private and official creditors, coordinated by the IMF. The Frenchman is already familiar with the functioning of the institution since he was editor-in-chief of his scientific journal (IMF Economic Review) from 2009 to 2016. He takes over from Gita Gopinath, who will become number 2 of the institution.
Mr. Gourinchas will lead a team of dozens of economists whose analyzes will be closely followed in these times of economic uncertainty.
“In the current context filled with uncertainties, he is the man for the job with a very broad vision of international macroeconomics”, assures Hélène Rey, professor of economics at the London Business School, who wrote several academic papers with him. Mr. Gourinchas will lead a team of several dozen economists whose analyzes will be closely followed in these times of economic uncertainty, as the Omicron variant slows down the global recovery and widens the gap between developed and emerging countries..
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