December 31, 2014

My 2014 person of the year is ....

A guy who's influencing economies around the world right now, including internationally in Russia and domestically in Texas, and in other ways, around the world.

Who is the gentleman in that picture? Whom I have deliberately not captioned?

I'll explain that in a minute, and from there, you'll understand why he gets, and easily wins, the nomination for this important award.

So, with that said, that bit of suspense, let's move into the heart of things.

Drumroll?



Glad you asked for one?

It's Saudi Arabia's Minister of Petroleum Ali Al-Naimi.



Information/credit for photo above: Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi speaks to journalists ahead of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting on Nov. 27, 2014.

SAMUEL KUBANI / AFP/Getty Images

I deliberately looked for one with him in Western suit, to increase the suspense a bit, lest readers immediately guess, at a minimum, that "this guy has something to do with oil."

Well, Al-Naimi has plenty to do with oil, not just "something."

This is the man who is keeping Saudi Arabia in the oil driver's seat. Even if it means, per Business Insider, oil falling to $20/bbl. And, not cutting production even if surpluses grow. Period.

This is the man who could cause a recession in Texas. With more fighting over school funding and other things.

This is the man who could cause a Great Recession in Russia, and maybe already is, along with Western sanctions.

This is the man who could make it easier for Dear Leader to keep saying no to Keystone. (Unfortunately, it is the man who could also make climate change agreements, even relatively toothless ones, harder to achieve.)

This is the man who will help the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia expand its influence throughout the Middle East, above all by weakening Iran, calling more shots in the Syrian civil war and leaning more on Israel to deal better with the Palestinian Authority in 2015.

Given that the global oil surplus was becoming evident by midyear of 2014, and that Al-Naami surely was already planning strategy, and talking strategy with King Abdullah himself by then, he's the winner.

Per the $20/bbl comment and the "we're not cutting" comment, he had to have Abdullah's stamp of approval. And, that means he's a powerful man with carte blanche.

Maybe I could almost be calling him, in advance, the frontrunner for 2015 person of the year. Let's actually hope not.

Meanwhile, even with the budgetary challenges, Saudi Arabia itself is likely among the net winners, primarily for all these geo-petro-political reasons. 

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