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December 19, 2014 / 27 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘business’

Gasoline Prices Dropped at Midnight

Monday, September 1st, 2014

The price of gasoline in Israel dropped by a symbolic amount on Sunday at midnight — by one agora per liter for self-service 95 octane.

The price for the gasoline went from NIS 7.40 to Nis 7.39 per liter, the Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources announced. All other prices were unchanged.

Summer of War: The Cost of the Conflict on Israel

Monday, August 25th, 2014

The nearly two-month-long conflict with Hamas that has taken an economic toll on Israel, In addition to the military expenditures from Operation Protective Edge, physical damage to commercial facilities and the financial impact on industries such as retail and tourism have dragged the country into an economic slump, while the psychological cost on the children growing up in the south will take years to assess.

Nearly 3,000 claims for damage have been submitted to the Israel Tax Authority, which has so far paid some $20 million for direct damages and another $21 million for missed work days and other indirect damage. According to existing laws, workers in businesses located within 40 kilometers from the Gaza border get paid for the days they are absent from work, and their employers are eligible for full compensation from the government for these wages.

Israel’s Ministry of Tourism reports that tourism for July dropped by 26 percent from the same period last year. The sector, comprising about 7 percent of the Israeli economy, has lost at least $566 million, according to the figures.

The hardest-hit from the ongoing war are the businesses in the south of the country, which has sustained the bulk of the rocket fire from Hamas. Stores and restaurants have suffered from a drop in sales, while manufacturing facilities close to the Gaza border have been impacted by slowdowns in manufacturing due to incessant rocket alerts.

Israel’s Manufacturers Association estimated the total economic impact on Israeli manufacturers for the first round of the conflict at about 1.2 billion shekels, with factories in the south accounting for 40 percent of this figure, and facilities in Haifa and the center of the country incurring half the losses.

The agricultural sector has also experienced significant physical damage from the falling projectiles. Since the Iron Dome system is only activated when there is a projectile headed for a built-up area, thousands of rockets and mortars have landed in open fields, many of them belonging to farms. In addition to crop damage, there have been a number of incidents of injury and death of cattle, chickens and other livestock as a result of rocket impacts.

In an effort to assist businesses hurt by the conflict, Tourism Minister Uzi Landau proposed a tax exemption to Gaza-adjacent communities in the south. The move would be part of a comprehensive aid package consisting of tax breaks as well as reparations.

The latest war with Hamas came at a time when the Israeli economy was already in a slowdown, with a strong shekel decreasing exports and growth for the second quarter of 2014 falling to 1.7 percent from 2.8 percent in the first quarter. In response, the Bank of Israel decided on July 28 to cut its benchmark interest rate to a five-year low of 0.5 percent.

“We assess that economic activity is experiencing a sort of contraction, that began before the start of the Gaza operation,” the bank said Aug. 18. “This contraction will worsen in the current quarter, although some degree of rebound can be expected as soon as the hostilities cease.”

Max Levchin Looking To Repeat Paypal Success With Affirm

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

This article first appeared on JewishBusinessNews

PayPal co-founder Max Levchin netted a reported $34 million when his brainchild was sold to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion. Ever since that day, the sometimes weird whiz kid Levchin, now 39, has been trying to do it again.

Now he told the San Jose Mercury News that he did.

Actually, he has been into another impressive project since PaPal, helping to start Yelp, the gripe and review site which is worth about $5.4 billion, and then there was Slide, a social gaming site that Google bought in 2010 for an estimated $200 million.

Now Levchin has launched Affirm, an online lending platform that offers personalized financing for. He announced last June that Affirm had raised $45 million in its first venture capital funding round. And people are paying attention, expecting Affirm to reach a PayPal kind of success.

Like PayPal, Affirm uses the Internet to move money around, in a secure fashion, which has the potential of peeling off yet another traditional bastion of global financial institutions, offering consumers buying power they never had before.

“I’m not trying to correct the wrongs of the past,” Levchin told the San Jose Mercury News. “But the underlying structure of the finance industry is still decrepit.”

Affirm offers consumers, especially young people, who don’t yet have cash or credit to their names, the financing they need to make big purchases, with delayed payments and monthly payment plans, helping them stay away from the scourge of credit card debt.

Scott Banister, an investor and former business partner of Levchin’s, described Affirm as “Max getting back into financial services with everything he learned from PayPal. You will definitely see big things.”

Levchin grew up in Kiev, Ukraine, in a Jewish family that fled rising anti-Semitism for Chicago, where they arrived when Max was 16.

Emergency Measures to Assist Residents of South

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

The Agency for Small and Mid-Sized Enterprises at the Ministry of the Economy has announced an emergency plan to assist businesses in war-battered southern communities.

The plan includes special assistance programs for small and mid-sized enterprises in the south, assistance in obtaining money from the property compensation fund, business advice and advice for obtaining financing from funds.  

The special benefits will be available to small businesses up to 40 km from the Gaza border, who will receive fee exemption and expedited treatment. The program will be administered by the Maof network . Services will include 
  *   Assistance in obtaining compensation from property tax – a new service to help enterprises navigate the bureaucracy at the Tax Authority, including filling out forms.
  *   Expert advice and business and marketing consultancy – eligibility for up to 20 extra hours of business consultancy.
  *   Special emergency guidance for businesspeople – led by experts and fully financed by the Agency on subjects related to the emergency situation (financing, labor law, cash flow, etc.)
  *   Advice for obtaining financing from funds – funds which have activated programs for this zone. The advice will help businesspeople fill out the necessary forms of a fund. The service is free.

In addition, the ministries of finance and the economy announced a special supplement of NIS 100 million to a loan-guarantee program for small- and mid-sized businesses in the Gaza Belt region. The program ensures government-backing for business loans in the area. Lastly, representatives of the agencies coordinating the government-back loans will be available to meet businesspeople at Maof offices in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheva, and Sderot. The Agency states that businesspeople from the confrontation zone seeking assistance will be exempt from the NIS 250 registration fee and that applications will be handled expeditiously, taking nine days instead of the month required in normal times.

Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennett commented, “We are also supporting the soldiers on the economic front. Economic soundness and ensuring financial security of businesses in the south is a critical part of the strength of residents of the south. We are taking steps to support businesspeople and ensure their stability immediately, and we will continue to do so after Operation Protective Edge is over.”

For more information, residents of the eligible areas can telephone 1-700-558-040, or visit the Agency for Small and Mid-Sized Enterprise website at www.sba.economy.gov.il.

Lev Leviev Ups the Ante on Angola Diamonds

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Israeli real estate and international business magnate Lev Leviev, a major philanthropist in the Jewish world, is raising prices on the diamonds he mines in Angola.

Leviev reached an agreement with the Angolan government that allows him to sell the diamonds from his Luminas mine on the world market, according to Bloomberg News.

Up to now, he has sold the gems at a discount to targeted traders from China and Dubai, according to sources who requested anonymity. The sources added that the deal allows Leviev to raise his prices by as much as 50 percent.

There was no comment from Leviev’s Africa Israel Investments Inc., nor from any of his other firms. Angola is the fourth-largest diamond producing country in the world by value, according to Bloomberg.

Bank of Israel May Pop the Bitcoin Bubble

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

The Bank of Israel is considering clamping down on the use of “bitcoins” with stiff regulations and warned the public on Wednesday to beware of possible fraudulent use of the virtual currency.

The bitcoin is a digital currency, but its value is determined by demand. It is worth about $635 today, but was valued at $1,000 late last year and as little as $150 this past September.

Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug issued her warning following the bitcoin’s popularity that has attracted several start-ups to allow the bitcoin to be used to buy everything from soup to shares on the stock market.

The bitcoin “is liable to be exploited for criminal activity, including money laundering, financing illegal activities and financing terrorism,” the Bank stated.

“It was agreed to continue to examine various perspectives related to the use of, and trade in, virtual currencies. These perspectives include possible macro effects, their legal standing, their regulation, money laundering and terror financing risks, taxation and consumer protection.”

The statement added, “It is emphasized that they [bitcoins] are also not legal tender of any country, and that the term used does not indicate any legal status as ‘currency.’”

It also pointed out that bitcoins, since they are only virtual currencies and are stored on smartphones or computers, are subject to robbery through hacking.

Regulators in the United States , Canada, the European Union  and elsewhere, who have published similar warnings to the public.

However, all the warnings may be superfluous. Wired.com reported Wednesday that a computer glitch at Mt. Gox, once the world’s biggest bitcoin exchange, has scared bitcoin owners.

Mt. Gox said two weeks temporarily stopped allowing customers to withdraw bitcoins, stating that the glitch in bitcoin software affected it and another exchange. The result was a dive in the value of bitcoins at Mt. Gox although it has remained steady elsewhere.

Everything You Wanted to Know about Bonds

Monday, February 10th, 2014

On this week’s podcast, find out about bonds. How do they work? And how would you know if they are a good investment for you? Show host Douglas Goldstein explains what bonds are, their various parts, and how to calculate their yield. Tune in to this week’s show to learn more.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/goldstein-on-gelt/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-bonds/2014/02/10/

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