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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘economy’

Israel, Mexico, Sign Research & Development Pact

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Israel and Mexico have signed a deal to cooperate on industrial research and development, Israel’s Ministry of Economy announced Monday.

The two nations are set to fund joint projects aimed at advancing industrial development between both.

Leading fields for cooperation with Mexico will focus primarily on water management, desert agriculture, pharmacology and medical devices, electronics and communication.

“Mexico is one of the world’s largest manufacturers in a variety of fields, comprising an essential part of the country’s economy,” said Rona Kotler Ben Aroya, trade attache to Mexico from the Israeli Ministry of Economy.

“The signing of the industrial R&D agreement between Israel and Mexico will help Israeli companies integrate products and advanced technologies with local manufacturers and realize the potential of [the North American] market.”

Bennett Signs Up UST Global to Bring 10,000 Jobs to Israel

Monday, December 8th, 2014

The giant California-based UST Global will build a cyber-defense center in Israel and will employ up to 10,000 people, including Haredim, Minister of Economy and Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett announced from Washington.

In a video (below) that Bennett posted on his Facebook page, UST CEO Sajan Pillai, sounding like Bennett’s election campaign manager, said that one of the reasons his company chose Israel to build the center is “the ability of the government leadership to act quickly.”

UST also is acting quickly. Pillai said he hopes to start working on the new center by the end of March, which just happens to be 17 days after Israelis vote for a new Knesset.

UST Global is a multinational provider of IT services and solutions and specializes in healthcare, retail and consumer goods, banking and financial services, media, entertainment, insurance, transportation and manufacturing.

Bennett and Pillai did not disclose where the center will be built except to see it will be in the “outlying” areas, meaning not in metropolitan Tel Aviv. Bennett said  that the company’s training program for workers will include Haredim.

The Be’er Sheva area is a good guess for the location because several international companies already are establishing high-tech centers in a new industrial park being established in cooperation with Ben Gurion University.

“Today, more companies in the world look at cyber-defense as one of their top problems,” said Pillai, who said the first reason UST is locating in Israel is that it has “the best brand for intelligence and cyber defense, bar none.”

He added, “Number two, 40 percent of all cyber defense companies today are located in Israel.”

The accomplishment of bringing 10,000 news jobs to Israel and to relatively underdeveloped areas will be a big plus for Bennett in the election campaign, in which the economy is a major issue.

The favorable polls for a new party headed by former Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon, who broke the cartel of mobile phone companies and brought down mobile call prices by 90 percent, is a strong indication that voters want action and not talk.

Yair Lapid, who was Finance Minister until Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu fired him last week and called for new elections, has been championing a program of zero Value Added Tax on the purchase of new homes, but he failed to bring the bill into law. His proposal earned headlines and was applauded until it became clear that there were so many limitations in the bill that it would help only a few thousand people.

Shekel-Dollar Rate Soars to 3.96 on Election Talk

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

The shekel-dollar rate soared to more than 3.96 on Tuesday for the first time in two years as investors dumped shekels and bought dollars due to the almost certain break-up of the government coalition and the need for new elections that will leave the country without a bona fide budget.

The rate rose by one more than 1 percent. An increase of that size has been very rare since nearly a decade ago when the only question was not whether the shekel would weaken but by how much.

The 2015 budget has not been passed, and new elections are exactly what the economy does not need, except for the media that will profit from advertising and the printing presses that will be running day and night to trash the country with party propaganda.

The big winner of the cheap dollar is exporters. A strong currency makes people feel proud, but a cheap currency always boosts exports since the incoming dollars are converted to shekels. The more shekels the dollar is worth, the more profits a company makes.

The downside is that consumers have to pay more shekels for imports.

Globes quoted FXCM as saying, “If we do have elections before the budget is approved, this will be disastrous for the Israeli economy and will severely damage market confidence, both locally and globally, in the Israeli leadership.”

 

 

Shekel-Dollar Rates Tops 3.91

Monday, December 1st, 2014

The shekel-dollar rate hit a new two-year Monday morning, rising above 3.91 shekels to the dollar.

In July, the rate was around 3.40 with projections for its going even lower.

FXCM Israel, quoted by Globes, explained Monday, “The shekel-dollar exchange rate is not stopping and reaches new peaks almost daily….

“It seems that sentiment towards the shekel is at an unprecedented low, both because of the deteriorating security situation and because of the signs that the coalition is breaking up and the election atmosphere that is taking over the political arena. All this arouses concern on the market.

“The local market seems dominated by buyers only: on the one hand, those long on the dollar are not rushing to take profits, despite the price levels, while in current conditions no-one dares buy the shekel, even when there are technical opportunities for doing so. We are thus witness to a completely one-sided market.”

It concludes that in the long term, “There is no escaping the view that this trend will continue, both because of the gap in economic growth between the US and Israel, and because of the fact that the U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to start toughening its interest rate policy, whereas the Bank of Israel, in current conditions, is expected to leave its interest rate at virtual zero for a prolonged period.

However, the Swiss USB bank wrote last week that while it sees the rate rising to 4 shekels to the dollar by mid-2015,,” Israel’s strong balance of payments should stem the depreciation in the medium term.”

Financial advisers have a habit of predicting the future based on the past and are not very good at calling a change indirection.

If the Israeli government coalition holds and early elections are not called, that could help brake the one-way trip for the currency.

Consumer Revolution Sparks ‘Five-Shekel Supermarket’ Chain

Monday, November 10th, 2014

The man who introduced Israelis to the five-cent cup of coffee now is planning to open up a chain of supermarkets that will sell 600 leading food and housewares products for five shekels, which today comes out to $1.32

Avi Katz, whose Cofix chain startled restaurants earlier this year by not gouging customers with coffee costing anywhere from 8 to 12 shekels a cup, said his “Super Cofix” supermarket will open its first branch in Tel Aviv in April, Globes business newspaper reported Monday.

“We feel that the market is ripe for a revolution that will turn the complaints into buying power,” Katz said, “I want to take the high-cost-of-living virtual protest and put it on a practical track. Poor people need to buy cheap; rich people like to buy cheap.”

Every product to be sold in the new chain will cost 5 shekels. Half of the products will be food items, including meat, vegetables and fruit.

Other products will include cleaning liquids, cosmetics and basic housewares.

Super Cofix is not designed as a full-service supermarket that can compete with the large chains in Israel. But the cheap prices for popular brands will force the big chains to bring down prices or lose shekel-wise customers.

Israelis don’t yet believe it, but the country is undergoing a social revolution that is breaking monopolies, oligarchies and cartels, and the savings will leave money in consumers’ pocketbooks to buy other merchandise that they previously had to avoid.

The biggest earthquake until now has been the collapse of the mobile phone oligarchy, thanks to former Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon. He opened up the market to competition and introduced Israel to the ancient concept of a free market that makes greedy billionaires sweat on their way to the bank. Cell phone prices tumbled by up to 90 percent, and the three large mobile phone companies saw their exorbitant profits and multi-million dollar salaries for CEOs go down the tubes.

They literally were raping the public financially while shareholders enjoyed fat dividends of more than 12 percent as they watched their shares rise 10 percent annually. Those who did not believe Kahlon was serious took it on the chin as the share prices of some companies, such as Cellcom, lost 90 percent of their value.

The Rami Levi supermarket chain has forced price cutting in the food industry, but Katz’s proposed Super Cofix chain indicates there still is too much cash in company tills.

Next to go might be the importers of cars, who gouge Israelis with exorbitant prices by holding on to their positions as exclusive agents for certain models.

Several governments have not fulfilled promises that they will break the Israel Electric Corp. and Israel Ports Authority’s medieval management .

The time is coming closer when the government finally will be able to put an end to the ridiculous benefits for every IEC employee to receive free electricity and for the Ports Authority to run an operation based on nepotism.

Reform is on the way, and the savings will trickle down very quickly and provide a launching pad for the economy.

Israeli Food Retailers Required to Publish Prices Online

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

New regulations signed yesterday will force major food retailers in Israel to publish their prices on the internet and update them hourly.

The regulations, signed by Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, are intended to promote competition between the 19 food chains, according to Globes.

Lapid told media in a statement released by his office: “With the passage of the Food Law, the Consumer Protection and Fair Trade Authority has begun intensive work to formulate regulations that stipulate the technical specifications and the way in which information will be posted and updated on the retailer’s website.

“The Authority’s work in conjunction with the Ministry of the Economy and the Budgets Division at the Ministry of Finance was carried out in consultation with computing experts, and included extensive discussion with the retailers to which the law will apply.

“Applications developers were also brought in, in the expectation that they will us the information to develop price comparison applications.

“We continue to fight against the cost of living. Through price transparency, competition between the retail chains will increase, leading to cheaper prices,” Lapid said.

The government ultimately expects to create a mobile app that will allow consumers to check online while out and about to see which store is selling an item at the best price per unit.

Gaza Rebuilding to Begin With Winter

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

The Palestinian Authority unity government will begin reconstruction just as its citizens begin to face the freezing cold of winter.

A report published by the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency noted that none of the rubble left from Israel’s counter terror Operation Protective Edge has yet been removed in Gaza. Private companies will not start that process until next month, PA Housing and Public Works Minister Mufid al-Hasayneh told Ma’an.

Companies will first “prepare the sites” to which rubble will be taken – one in Gaza City, the other in Rafah, on the border with Egypt.

Meanwhile, PA is also expected to sign an agreement with the United Nations Development Program “to distribute $10 million to families whose homes were partially destroyed.”

According to the report, each family will receive between $1,000 to $2,000 to repair their homes. The money is to come from PA coffers, al-Hasayneh explained, since donations from international pledges have yet to arrive.

The United Nations and international donors have never offered financial compensation to the thousands of Israelis whose homes were damaged by rocket attacks from Gaza over the past 12 years.

The United States pledged $212 million to reconstruction in Gaza; the European Union is to donate 450 million euros, and Qatar has said it will send $1 billion. Donors pledged a total of more than $5 billion altogether to repair the damage caused by Hamas choosing to attack Israel from within civilian residential areas and from behind human shields.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/gaza-rebuilding-to-begin-with-winter/2014/10/22/

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