Washington: Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), late on Monday announced the appointment of Maurice Obstfeld as the IMF’s economic counselor and director of the research department.
Obstfeld succeeds Olivier Blanchard. He is expected to begin his work at the fund on September 8, Xinhua news agency reported.
“I am thrilled to have Maurice join us at the fund. His outstanding academic credentials and extensive international experience make him exceptionally well-placed to provide intellectual leadership to the IMF at this important juncture,” Lagarde said in a statement.
“He is known around the globe for his work on international economics and is considered one of the most influential macroeconomists in the world,” she added.
A professor of economics and former chair of the Department of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, Obstfeld has advised many governments and consulted at central banks all over the world. He is currently a member of US President Barack Obama’s council of economic advisers.
The International Monetary Fund is forecasting Iran’s economy to shrink by 6% this year as it faces pressure from U.S. sanctions.
In a report released Monday, the IMF said its estimates for Iran, which include the potential for inflation to top 40%, predate a U.S. decision to end waivers that have allowed some Iranian oil buyers to continue making their purchases despite new sanctions that went into effect last year.
The Trump administration is due to formally end the waivers on Thursday for some of Iran’s top crude purchasers, including China, India, Japan, Turkey and South Korea.
The United States says it wants to deprive Iran of $50 billion in annual oil revenues to pressure it to end its nuclear and missile programs. The White House says it is working with top oil exporters Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure an adequate world oil supply.
Turkey and China have attacked the U.S. action, but it is not clear whether they will continue to buy Iranian oil.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said an interview broadcast on the U.S. cable show Fox News Sunday accused the United States of trying to “bring Iran to its knees” and overthrow its government by seeking to thwart its international oil trade.
He said U.S. officials are “wrong in their analysis. They are wrong in their hope and illusions.”
Zarif said the fact that Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 international agreement to curtail Iran’s nuclear program “would not put the U.S. in the good list of law-abiding nations.” Iran state media reported that Zarif told Iranian reporters in New York that Tehran’s withdrawal from the pact is one of “many options” it is considering in the wake of the U.S. end to the waivers on sanctions for countries buying oil from Iran.
Zarif said a team of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, and leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is trying to push U.S. President Donald Trump “into a confrontation he doesn’t want.”
“They have tried to bring the U.S. into a war,” Zarif said, with the goal, “at least,” of Iranian regime change.