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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘economy’

Legalizing Marijuana Would End Black Market, Says Israeli Study

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Legalizing marijuana would generate more than $450 million annually for the Israeli economy, according to  a new study released by the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies.

The black market for cannabis in Israel currently is worth $707 million annually, and legalizing the sale of grass, if taxed like cigarettes, would blow $268 million into the government’s money pot. In addition, it would save law enforcement agencies $198 million since they would not have to spend money to smokers of weed.

The study found that approximately 275,000 Israelis, 4 percent of the population, used marijuana in the past year, only 26 percent of Israelis support legalization of marijuana, while 64 percent opposes it.

In the United States, slightly more than half go those surveyed support legalizing grass. Marijuana is illegal under federal law, but 20 states to allow the use of medical marijuana. However, the Obama administration last week gave the green light for Colorado and Washington to carry  out their laws to permit recreational use of marijuana.

The Justice Department said it would bring charges on marijuana only in certain cases, such as distributing it to minors.

The announcement “demonstrates the sort of political vision and foresight from the White House we’ve been seeking for a long time,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group.

The Justice Department added that it is watching Colorado and Washington closely to see  if they can properly control marijuana use.

President Barack Obama has said he smoked grass when he was young, and a federal survey has found that 42 percent of Americans age 12 and older have smoked marijuana at some point in their lives.

The financial gains for states – and Israel is not being ignored,

“Recognizing the enormous financial gains that would come from legalization demands that the government take a serious look at the proposal to legalize cannabis use under specific guidelines,” said Yarden Gazit, who co-authored the study in Israel.  “There is no disputing that if the public is able to get past the wholly negative misperceptions associated with marijuana usage and appreciate the potential benefits with limited social or healthcare costs, this is an idea that needs open-minded and serious re-examination at this time.”

News of the survey coincided with Canada’s launch of controlled medical marijuana, an industry that is expected to be worth more than $1 billion in the next 10 years. Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada for years but has been highly regulated. Now it is available by mail-order with a doctor’s approval.

Besides all of the arguments  over whether marijuana is a drug that can lead to addiction, the underlying desire for governments to legalize it is money.

“We’re fairly confident that we’ll have a healthy commercial industry in time,” Sophie Galarneau, a senior Health Canada official told the Canadian Press.  

The Green Leaf party in Israel has been trying to get into the Knesset for years to push its agenda to legalize pot. In early pre-election polls, it usually receives support that puts it on the brink of winning the minimum number of votes to win Knesset seats, but when the real ballots are counted, it always loses out.

The pro-marijuana campaigns in the United States may generate new enthusiasm to legalize marijuana in Israel, where liberal leaders  almost always turn to American for cultural guidance.

Portland, Maine media reported Wednesday that supports of legalizing recreation marijuana will start promoting their agenda on city buses, with a message that grass is a better and safer alternative to alcohol.

Critics have complained that the campaign should not be on buses because children ride them to school.

Portland’s voter will go the ballot box in November to decide on a proposal to legalize marijuana by 2016. I

The Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project has targeted Maine and nine other states in its campaign to legalize grass within three years.

The JTA contributed to this report.

Israel Declares War on Cash to Help Get Rid of Tax Evasion

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

A new Israeli government committee has 90 days to present to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ideas on how to implement a more cashless society, with free electronic charge cards to replace cash transactions in a war against the “underground” economy.”

The cash cards, unlike credit cards, will be available to poor people  on welfare or who have no bank accounts.

“It is estimated that billions of shekels in the economy are not taxed, which means that the public does not benefit from them,” said Harel Locker, who will chair the committee while remaining as director of the Office of the Prime Minister.

Police officials say that a more cashless society will help decrease  money laundering and the underworld’s use of cash to finance crime.

Several European countries already have adopted policies to limit cash transactions, and the United States requires citizens to report all cash transactions exceeding $10,000.

Easing of Fears of Attack in Syria Sinks Shekel-Dollar Rate

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

The shekel-dollar rate sank to a two-year low Wednesday, reaching to as low as under 3.56 shekels to the dollar, after President Barack Obama called off a Senate vote on giving him permission to attack Syria. One shekel now is worth slightly more than 28 cents, good news for Israelis wanting dollars but terrible for exporters and Americans in Israel whose savings or wages are in dollars.

Last week, when it seemed certain that the United States would attack Syria, the rate was more than 3.66 shekels to the dollar.

Analysts expect the Bank of Israel to buy more dollars to jack up the rate if it falls much lower, but similar measures in the past have proven to have little long-term effect. The rate may move back up because of renewed strength in the American dollar worldwide.

However, the shekel  is expected to grow stronger  in the long term because of an improving economy, reduction of the deficit and the continuing development of the new offshore energy industry that is turning Israel into an energy exporter.

Israelis to Munch 15,000 Tons of Apples this Rosh Hashanah Season

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

The apple and honey tradition on Rosh Hashanah has Israelis consuming 15,000 tons of apples during the month of September, an increase of almost 50 percent  from average consumption during the rest of the year.

Israel’s crop of apples is of a particularly high quality this year, according to Amos Levin, general manager of the Galilee Development Corporation and chairman of the apple division of Israel’s Plants Production and Marketing Board.

“This summer’s relative cooler temperatures, especially at night, helped produce a higher quality of crop,” he said. Levin noted that this year’s crop, harvested from August through November, is excellent for size, color and taste.

Nearly all of Israel’s apples are grown in the hills of the Galilee and the Golan Heights because apples require cold winters and cooler summer nights to grow best.

The northern apple orchards are located on hills that are more than 2,000 feet higher and cover approximately 10,500 acres.

More than 100,000 tons of apples are sold in Israel each year, with the apple market valued at more than $200 million, serving as the core for the local economy in the Golan Heights. Another 7,000 tons of apples are imported into Israel from the United States and Europe.

While Israel exports little of its apples abroad, this year, the country exported 18,000 tons of apples grown by Druze farmers living in the Golan to Syria, in coordination with the Plants Production and Marketing Board, the IDF and the Red Cross. The Druze apple growers of the Golan have been selling to Syria has for the past eight year, but the apple exports were stopped in 2012 when the war situation became too volatile.

This year the apple industry also drew a number of university students from across Israel interested in learning more about agriculture and helping out Golan apple growers.

Sapir college student, Yotam Eyal told Tazpit News Agency that he and his friends have been picking apples for the past month.

“We are college students from all over Israel – from the Negev, Jerusalem, and the north, who are interested in learning more about agriculture and connecting to the land,” Eyal explained. “There are projects that have been initiated in the past year which get students involved in these areas.”

“It’s good to see where a fruit like an apple that you buy in the supermarket comes from,” commented Eyal. “Picking apples all day in the orchard is hard work. But it has made us appreciate dipping the apple in honey that much more this Rosh HaShanah.”

The Truth About Syria

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

If you are interested in reading more about Syria, you’re welcome to read my book The Truth About Syria online or download it for free.

WHY SYRIA MATTERS

“It is my pleasure to meet with you in the new Middle East,” said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a speech to the Syrian Journalists’ Union on August 15, 2006.1 But Bashar’s new Middle East was neither the one hoped for by many since Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s 1991 defeat in Kuwait nor expected when Bashar himself ascended the throne in 2000. Actually, it was not even new at all but rather a reversion, often in remarkable detail, to the Middle East of the 1950s through the 1980s. The Arab world, now accompanied by Iran, was re-embracing an era that was an unmitigated disaster for itself and extolling ideas and strategies which had repeatedly led it to catastrophe.

No Arab state had more to do with this important and tragic turnabout than does Syria, this development’s main architect and beneficiary. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other Arab states wanted quiet; Iraq needed peace to rebuild itself. Even Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi, pressed by sanctions and scared by his Iraqi counterpart Saddam’s fate, was on his good behavior. Only Syria remained as a source of instability and radicalism.

Thus, a small state with a modest economy became the fulcrum on which the Middle East shifted and which, in turn, shook the globe. Indeed, Bashar’s version of the new Middle East may well persist for an entire generation. Does this make Bashar a fool or a genius? That cannot be determined directly. What can be said is that his policy is good for the regime, simultaneously brilliant and disastrous for Syria, and just plain disastrous for many others.

To understand Syria’s special feature, it is best to heed the all-important insight of a Lebanese-American scholar, Fouad Ajami: “Syria’s main asset, in contrast to Egypt’s preeminence and Saudi wealth, is its capacity for mischief.”

In the final analysis, the aforementioned mischief was in the service of regime maintenance, the all-encompassing cause and goal of the Syrian government’s behavior. Demagoguery, not the delivery of material benefits, is the basis of its power.

Why have those who govern Syria followed such a pattern for more than six decades under almost a dozen different regimes? The answer: Precisely because the country is a weak one in many respects. Aside from lacking Egypt’s power and Saudi Arabia’s money, it also falls short on internal coherence due to its diverse population and minority-dominated regime. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein used repression, ideology, and foreign adventures to hold together a system dominated by Sunni Arab Muslims who were only one-fifth of the population. In Syria, even more intense measures were needed to sustain an Alawite regime that rules based on a community only half as large proportionately.

To survive, then, the regime needs transcendent slogans and passionate external conflicts that help make its problems disappear. Arabism and, in more recent years, Islamism, are its solution. In this light, Syria’s rulers can claim to be not a rather inept, corrupt dictatorship but the rightful leaders of all Arabs and the champions of all Muslims. Their battle cries are very effectively used to justify oppression at home and aggression abroad. No other country in the world throws around the word “imperialism” more in describing foreign adversaries, and yet no other state on the globe follows a more classical imperialist policy.

In broad terms, this approach is followed by most, if not all, Arab governments, but Syria offers the purest example of the system. As for the consequences, two basic principles are useful to keep in mind:

1. It often seemed as if the worse Syria behaved, the better its regime does. Syrian leaders do not accept the Western view that moderation, compromise, an open economy, and peace are always better. When Syria acts radical, up to a point of course, it maximizes its main asset—causing trouble—which cancels out all its other weaknesses. As a dictatorship, militancy provided an excuse for tight controls and domestic popularity through its demagoguery.

2. Success for the regime and state means disaster for the people, society, and economy. The regime prospers by keeping Syrians believing that the battle against America and Israel, not freedom and prosperity, should be their top priority. External threats are used to justify internal repression. The state’s control over the economy means lower living standards for most while simultaneously preserving a rich ruling elite with lots of money to give to its supporters.

Turmoil in Egypt May be Driving Up Shekel-Dollar Rate

Monday, August 19th, 2013

One dollar bought slightly more than 3.57 shekels Monday morning as the shekel lost some of its recent strength, possibly because of the violence in Egypt, according to the Atrade foreign exchange service. The shekel also weakened against the Euro.

The Israeli currency, which most analysts believe will strengthen over the long-term, was trading at 3.53 shekels to the dollar two weeks ago.

The Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Sunday that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) soared in the second quarter by 5.1 percent annually, far above expectations. Working against the shekel’s strength is the prospect of a stronger dollar, depending on the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank’s tapering off of bond purchases.

In the long term, the Israeli economy is expected to benefit from a windfall in royalties on exported natural gas, which may lead to a cut in taxes and a further rise in consumer spending.

Tale of 2 Debts: Moody’s OKs Israel’s A1 Rating; US Sinks in Red

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Moody’s Investors Service affirmed the Israeli government’s A1 debt rating Thursday and credited Israel’s stable economy, while in the United States, an economist claims that the national debt is a staggering $70 trillion, 3.5 times the admitted amount.

Moody’s said it is upholding Israel’s current rating because of the resilience of the economy, expectation of a lower debt and favorable diplomacy with, particularly with the United States.

“Growth in the small, open economy has been sustained even with shrinking demand from Europe, a key trading partner,” according to Moody’s. It cited Israel as being a haven for entrepreneurs and a leader in the high-tech industry.

Another strong factor in Israel’s favor is the export of natural gas, which will help reduce the national debt, reduce taxes and create jobs.

On the negative side is “Iran’s nuclear program being the largest threat to Israeli territorial security,” Moody’s added. “However, a certain status quo has been achieved by maintaining a strong military deterrent, close ties with the US and friendly relations between the Israeli, Egyptian and Jordanian armies, It also credited the resumed talks with “helping to reduce Israel’s international diplomatic isolation.”

Coincidentally, IBM announced on Thursday it is buying up the Israeli Trusteer data security company for an estimated $750 million. Previously this year, foreign companies have purchased several Israeli firms for a total of more than $3 billion.

Israel not only has been the eye in the center of the Middle East hurricane that has swept through Arab countries but also has one of the strongest and most stable economies in the Western world.

In the United States, a poll released Thursday by Gallup shows that President Barack Obama’s economy rating is at an all-time low of 35 percent, reflecting large scale unemployment that is not reported because so many Americans have given up looking for work.

In addition, Fox News reported that University of California at San Diego Prof. James Hamilton estimates that the U.S. national debt is $70 trillion, 3.5 times the official debt of $16.9

That works out to approximately $175,000, plus change, for every man, woman and child. And that does not include a tip for the president.

“Hamilton believes the government is miscalculating what it owes by leaving out certain unfunded liabilities that include government loan guarantees, deposit insurance, and actions taken by the Federal Reserve as well as the cost of other government trust funds,” Fox reported. “Factoring in those figures brings the total amount the government owes to a staggering $70 trillion.”

Hamilton is not the first economist to estimate the debt to be so high, but the government prefers its own figures, for obvious reasons.

Eventually, say economists, the Treasury’s printing presses will be working overtime, leading to high inflation and interest rates, a double-whammy that can cause “stag-flation,” a recession with inflation.

The conclusion is that it would be wise to book early for a one-way ticket to Israel.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/tale-of-2-debts-moodys-oks-israels-a1-rating-us-sinks-in-red/2013/08/15/

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