Who runs the (economic) world?

Who runs the world? It might soon be women as a crop of female economists join IMF chief Christine Lagarde in top positions at major financial bodies.

Who runs the (economic) world?

As the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meet this week in Bali, Lagarde no longer cuts quite the same lone figure she once did, now flanked by growing numbers of female finance ministers and economists.

The IMF has just named Gita Gopinath to replace its outgoing chief economist Maurice Obstfeld, making her the first woman to hold the post.

Gopinath, 46, a well-respected economics professor at Harvard University and co-editor of the prestigious American Economic Review, is likely to bring a fresh perspective to the institution, and potentially challenge longstanding positions.

While the IMF has traditionally promoted flexible exchange rates to protect against economic shocks, Gopinath's work has long advocated the opposite.

Lagarde acknowledged the gap between the Fund's traditional stance and Gopinath's work, saying the Indian-American's "stellar" reputation was built around "the role of the US dollar in international transactions, and the rigidity that it implies".

But she said Gopinath would continue that work at the Washington-based IMF.

"I am sure that we will be exploring further and deeper those particular (avenues)," Lagarde added.

"There are not many candidates that I can see at the moment that are prepared to be the currency operators, with the responsibility that comes with it."

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