Position: Economy and Planning Minister
Incumbent: Muhammad al-Jasser
Term: Since December 2011
— Muhammad al-Jasser was formerly governor of the kingdom’s central bank, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), and became economy and planning minister after Fahd bin Abdullah al-Mubarak was appointed by Saudi King Abdullah to head SAMA in December 2011.
— Jasser had replaced Hamad al-Sayari as the bank’s governor in February 2009, after almost 15 years as vice governor.
— He began his career at the finance ministry in 1981 and later became executive director for Saudi Arabia at the International Monetary Fund, a post he held until 1995. He helped negotiate Saudi Arabia’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2005.
— After joining SAMA in 1995, Jasser helped devise the central bank’s response to a decade-long oil price rally, an onslaught of currency speculation in 2007, an oil price slump and credit crisis. One of his main actions during the 2008 financial crisis was to more than double the central bank’s gold reserves.
— Jasser stood steadfastly by the dollar as a peg for the Saudi riyal — a policy the OPEC member has maintained since 1986 — saying at the height of speculation in 2008 that the peg served the country’s interests. The world’s biggest oil exporter is a major holder of dollar assets and a top U.S. ally in the region.
— He was also a strong supporter of a plan for a monetary union among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members and to launch a Gulf single currency. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain are still pursuing the long-delayed project after the United Arab Emirates withdrew in 2009, three years after Oman did the same.
— Jasser earned a B.A. in Economics from San Diego State University in 1979 and an M.A. in Economics from the University of California in 1981. In 1986, he completed his doctorate in Economics at the University of California.