Star economist takes helm of India’s central bank amid storm

MUMBAI, September 4, 2013 (AFP) – Top economist Raghuram Rajan, renowned for predicting the 2008 global financial crisis, took over as India’s central bank chief on Wednesday as the country faces its worst financial storm in years. Rajan, a former IMF chief economist, replaced Duvvuri Subbarao as governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which has been battling to prop up the plummeting rupee and reverse a sharp economic slowdown.

Rajan arrived at the RBI headquarters in Mumbai and met his new colleagues before a handover by Subbarao. He will take charge operationally on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters after the handover, Subbarao acknowledged his successor was in for a bumpy ride.

“The country could not have asked for a more capable person to lead the RBI in these most difficult times,” he said.

Rajan is due to issue a statement at 5.30pm (1200 GMT).

Rajan, an outspoken diplomat’s son described by the local media as an “economist with rock star appeal”, takes charge as some analysts fear the once-booming economy could be heading for a meltdown.

The 50-year-old inherits an economy struggling with a record current account deficit, a currency which has lost up to a quarter of its value against the do