Maurice Obstfeld, chief economist with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), speaks at a World Economic Outlook news conference during the spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington, D.C, U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

IMF Chief Economist to Retire From Fund at Year-End

(Bloomberg) -- IMF chief economist Maurice Obstfeld will retire from the fund at the end of December and return to the University of California, Berkeley, the fund said.

Obstfeld has served as economic counselor and director of the research department at the International Monetary Fund for about three years. The search for his successor will begin shortly, the Washington-based fund said in a statement on Wednesday.

The departure leaves the IMF with a key vacancy at a time when President Donald Trump is shaking up the international economic order of which the fund is a major pillar. The IMF was conceived during the Second World War to oversee the world monetary system and promote open trade and cooperation among its member nations, which now number 189.

Obstfeld is considered one of the world’s leading experts in international economics issues such as financial crises and the workings of the global monetary system. His textbook on international economics with Kenneth Rogoff is considered one of the authoritative texts in the field.

“By bridging academic rigor with an ability to disentangle complex economic issues and make persuasive the case for needed policies, Maury has stepped up the fund’s contribution to the policy debate,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in the statement.

Obstfeld was chair of the economics department at Berkeley, has advised central banks around the world, and served on President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. He has a PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.