President Donald Trump’s administration is considering nominating a top U.S. Treasury official for the No. 2 job at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, according to people familiar with the matter.
Geoffrey Okamoto, acting assistant secretary for international finance and development at the Treasury Department, is a contender to replace David Lipton as the IMF’s first deputy managing director.
The portfolio of the deputy role typically includes strategy, policy development and lending programs.
Changes at the IMF come as global policy makers face an unprecedented threat from the virus outbreak in China that has paralyzed large swaths of the world’s second-largest economy, plus a lackluster global expansion and continuing uncertainty surrounding trade policy.
The IMF is also working to stabilize Argentina and other faltering economies among its 189 members.
The IMF’s new head, Kristalina Georgieva, announced Lipton’s departure last week. By tradition, the first deputy managing director is nominated by the U.S. and appointed by the IMF managing director, subject to approval by the fund’s executive board.
Lipton took the post under former IMF chief Christine Lagarde after serving as a special assistant in former President Barack Obama’s White House.
The U.S. role as the IMF’s biggest shareholder gives the White House considerable sway over the appointment, as does tradition. Since its founding in 1945, the fund has been run by a European as part of an unwritten understanding that means an American leads the World Bank. That arrangement lived on in April when former U.S. Treasury official David Malpass became president of the World Bank.
Okamoto has worked for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin since early 2017, having first served on the agency’s transition team after Trump’s election. His role in the department’s international affairs unit has included trade negotiations with China and India, currency policy, and serving on a Trump administration team that recommended Malpass to lead the World Bank.
The 35-year-old has also stood-in for Mnuchin at Group of 20 meetings abroad.
Okamoto will join Ivanka Trump, Trump’s daughter and senior adviser to the president, in Dubai next week at the World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative forum.
Before joining the Trump administration, Okamoto served as a key adviser to Senator Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, on the banking committee. Okamoto holds a master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University, while the last four to hold the job have been Ph.D. economists.