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OECD appoints chief economist from Chile

The OECD named a chief economist from Chile on Tuesday, saying it was changing with the times to become more relevant in a world where emerging market economies play a bigger role.

Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel, a national of Germany and Chile, would move in September to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, an international talk-shop whose 30 member countries are mostly mature free-market economies. “The appointment of Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel is a clear signal of the evolution of the OECD into a more global institution,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria, who as a Mexican is the first man from an emerging market economy to head the OECD. “He is an experienced and widely respected economist, who provides a different, more diverse view of the possibilities and challenges of economic development in the 21st Century,” Gurria said in a statement.

Schmidt-Hebbel, a polyglot with a PhD from the US Massachusetts Institute of Technology, takes up the OECD job in September, moving over from the Chilean central bank, where he headed the economic research department for 12 years. His predecessor, Frenchman Jen-Philippe Cotis, left the OECD last year and Dane Jorgen Elmeskov is acting chief economist until Schmidt-Hebbel arrives.

The OECD, which promotes free-market economics and provides international economic forecasts, is still described at times as a “rich man’s club” but countries a few emerging market economies, such as Mexico, South Korea and Turkey among its 30 member countries, but not Chile, nor China and India. (Reuters)