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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Natural gas’

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.

Israeli Firm Plans Gas Pipelines to Turkey, other Mideast Nations

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

An Israeli energy company has announced plans to export natural gas via pipelines through Turkey and other countries in the Middle East.

The Delek Group, the parent firm for several energy and gas exploration companies, said in its new prospectus that it plans to export some of the newly discovered natural gas off the Mediterranean cost to Europe via pipelines to Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli business daily Globes reported.

Delek Group is in advanced talks with companies in those countries about buying Israeli gas and building pipelines. The group also has talked about building a liquefied natural gas facility in Israel.

The Israeli Cabinet in June approved a decision to export about 40 percent of the recently discovered reserves while keeping a 25-year supply for the country’s consumption. Revenue from the exported gas is expected to be about $60 billion.

Netanyahu Limits Gas Exports to 40 Percent

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Offshore gas fields should be allowed to export no more than 40 percent of the natural gas they produce, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday. The Cabinet is expected to approve the recommendation at Sunday’s weekly session.

The limit is more restrictive than the 53 percent that was suggested by a committee set up to come up with proposals on how to manage Israel’s newly discovered energy fields, but opponents nevertheless  protests in Tel Aviv Wednesday night, insisting  all the gas should be kept in Israel for domestic needs in the future.

The Prime Minister, after consulting with Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Energy and Water Resources Minister Silvan Shalom, and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, said, “The State of Israel received a gift from nature in large quantities of natural gas…. We have jointly decided to significantly increase the amount of gas for Israel’s use. This will supply our needs for 25 years.”

He estimated that Israel will receive approximately $60 billion from the gas fields over the next 25 years.

Greenpeace Infiltration May Have Prevented Terrorist Attack

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Israel can thank Greenpeace activists for unintentionally alerting the country to a security lapse that terrorists could exploit to throw Israel into a blackout by blowing up the site, causing mass casualties and shutting down the electricity grid

Six Greenpeace activists managed to infiltrate Noble Energy’s off-shore gas terminal in the port of Ashdod Monday morning, and the pro-environment group said two of its members roamed freely within the sensitive site for an hour and a half.

They entered the 25-acre site by climbing ladders to bridge the fence around the terminal, setting off the warning system. Globes reported that the activists could have caused a shut-down of electricity to a large area of the country if they had done extensive damage.

The infiltrators were demonstrating their support for energy and opposition to Israel’s reliance on natural gas from the giant offshore energy fields discovered in the past three years off the Mediterranean Coast. Israel now produces more than half of the country’s electricity with natural gas.

Police arrested and then released all six activists, who were dressed up as the sun to show their support for solar energy.

But what if terrorists and not environmentalists had scaled the fence around the terminal?

It would have taken only a small amount of explosives to blow to smithereens the only network that carries gas to the terminal.

Anyone in the area probably would have gone up in smoke during an explosion, which would have severely crippled Israel’s dream of energy independence. Damage to the site would have forced a shut down to electricity in a large part of the country, causing financial and social chaos.

Nobel put on the stiff upper lip after the infiltration and stated, “The Greenpeace activists were handed over to the police. The matter is being investigated with the appropriate parties.”

More Natural Gas Found

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

On Wednesday evening, the Delek Group announced that they believe they’ve found an additional 57 billion cubic meters (2 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas at the Karish (“Shark”) 1 well. Updated estimates, on Thursday morning, are now saying there is possibly 80-100 billion cubic meters.

The drilling began in mid-March, and was expected to go on for 3 months.

The Karish well is 75 kilometers north west of Haifa. The waters depth is 1,740 meters, and they will be drilling down 4,900 meters.

This well is being drilled by Noble Energy (47.1%), Yitzhak Tshuva’s Delek Drilling (26.4%) and Avner Oil and Gas (26.4%).

The issue of what to do with the gas is a controversial subject in Israel, with some sides saying it should be exported, while other saying it should all be kept for domestic use.

Government profits from the gas are going to be put into a special fund, but JewishPress.com has been calling for Israel to follow the Alaska model introduced by Sarah Palin, where State income and sales tax have been cancelled, and citizens of Alaska personally receive checks from the oil revenue royalties and taxes.

Palin introduced the concept that the natural resources of the state belong to the citizens of Alaska, and they should profit from it directly.

Fischer Cuts Interest Rate and Says Bank to Buy 2 Billion Dollars

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer announced on Monday a surprise cut the prime interest rate as part of his battle to fight the appreciation of the shekel and help the economy to keep growing. The financial markets responded with the shekel-dollar rate rising more than 1.5 percent to the level of 3.61 shekels to the dollar.

Fischer announced the interest rate cut two weeks ahead of the usual end-of-the-month decision on whether to change the rate.

The dollar was worth only 3.55 shekels last week, dropping over the past several weeks from the relatively lofty level of 3.8 shekels to the dollar.

A lower shekel-dollar rate hurts exports because foreign buyers have to pay relatively more dollars than they would when the shekel is worth less. In addition, exporters make less money after converting foreign dollars into shekels.

Factors in the lower rate are the anticipation of tax revenue from Israel’s natural gas bonanza, which came on-stream several weeks ago, Warren Buffet’s $2 billion purchase of the remaining shares of the Israel-based Isracar tool-making company, the possibility of a $1 billion buyout of Waze by Facebook, and the relatively stable Israeli economy.

Fischer cut the rate by a quarter of a percent, with the new 1.5 percent rate making the shekel less attractive to foreign investors.

After the Bank of Israel’s two small purchases of dollars the past three weeks in an effort to keep speculators from forcing the shekel-dollar rate any lower, Fischer announced on Monday a massive dollar-buying plan on the scale of his purchases several years ago when the shekel-dollar rate sank to 3.30.

The Bank of Israel said the decisions to lower the rate and buy dollars was made “in light of the continued appreciation of the shekel, taking into account the start of natural gas production from the Tamar gas field, interest rate reductions by many central banks – notably the European Central Bank, the quantitative easing in major economies worldwide and the downward revision in global growth forecasts.”

The Bank of Israel added that global growth forecasts, especially for Europe and China have been revised downward, which effect Israel’s economy.

It explained that the program to buy dollars takes into account “the effects on the financial account resulting from the natural gas production” that will result in foreign exchange payments by the gas companies.

“As in the past, the Bank of Israel will continue to operate in the foreign exchange market in cases of exchange rate fluctuations which are not in line with fundamental economic conditions, or when conditions in the foreign exchange market are disorderly,” the Bank of Israel added.

Bill Clinton Tried to Block Israel’s Taxing Newly-Found Gas

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Former Bill Clinton, the man who unwittingly carried out his promise for a “New Middle East,” worked as a paid lobbyist to pressure Israel against increasing taxes on natural gas from huge off-shore energy fields, former Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz revealed.

Clinton’s wealth is estimated at well over $55 million, making him the richest living president, but no one knows better than him that “enough is never enough,” especially when it comes to “helping” Israel.

One of his most famous “accomplishments” as president was to engineer the signing of the Oslo Accords, with a grinning Yasser Arafat and Yitzchak Rabin at his side on the White House lawn. Clinton promised a “new Middle East,” and we got one when the Oslo Accords literally exploded in Israel’s face in 2002.

Clinton has not given up his version of helping Israel while making pocket money to boot.

Israel has the wonderful problem of figuring out how much to tax the gigantic natural gas pumped from discoveries off the Mediterranean Coast. The energy fields will bring billions of dollars in profits for energy companies, and the government wants a share of the natural wealth.

As Finance Minister, Steinitz proposed raising taxes on companies that developed the natural resources. The energy firms still would be left with envious profits but wanted to stop the tax hike, a reasonable objective for any company.

Clinton’s agreement to be its front-man raises serious questions about the ethics of a former president lobbying a foreign country.

“Pressure [against the tax hike] began from the White House,” Steinitz told the Hebrew language Maariv newspaper.

“The energy companies hired American lobbyists, including former President Bill Clinton, who sent letters and had discussions to dismantle the Shashinsky Commission,” which examined the natural gas issue, “and to stop the tax law.”

“Members of the U.S. Congress asked me for clarifications,” Steinitz said. “We began to feel a sense of pressure, as if we were doing something impeachable to commercial ties between the two countries. I tried to explain that we are among the countries earning the lowest rates from natural gas and petrol, that we get nothing and that the citizens of Israel have as much moral right to profit from public resources as do private companies.”

The Shashinsky recommendations for a tax increase in November 2010, and the pressure decreased, apparently under orders of President Barack Obama.

No one has accused Clinton of doing anything illegal, but the ethics of the former president’s polices and accumulation of wealth following his terms of office deserve examination.

“Between 1997 and 2003 …You went from a period, a regime, where people did have at least some concern about going to jail, to a point where everything is legal. …Looking back I would say that this period definitely started under Clinton,” said Charles Ferguson, whose documentary film Inside Job in 2010 won an Academy Award.

Clinton certainly did not have to lobby against Israel for lack of money.

“I never had any money until I got out of the White House, you know, but I’ve done reasonably well since then,” Clinton has said in an understatement that would be laughable if not true.

“Reasonably well?” Let’s check.

As a lame duck president in December 2000, Clinton signed into law the Commodities Futures Modernization Act, which ensured that derivatives could not be regulated. Two months later, shortly after leaving the White House, Clinton received $125,000 from Morgan Stanley for a speech Clinton he delivered to the company in New York City.  A few weeks later, Credit Suisse also hired Clinton for a speech, at a $125,000 speaking fee, according to the NakedCapitalism.com website.

“It’s not a coincidence that deregulation accelerated in the late 1990s, as Clinton and his whole team began thinking about their post-Presidential prospects,” the site added.

If Clinton was only somewhat rich man before becoming president, he has more than made up for lost change.

In the decade after the end of his second term, he pocketed nearly $10 million for speaking fees. That comes out to a lot more than his hourly wage as president.

And who paid for the privilege of hearing his wisdom?

Citigroup: $250,000; Deutsche Bank, $150,000; Goldman Sachs, $300,000 for two speeches, and that is only three coins in the fountain.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/bill-clinton-tried-to-block-israels-taxing-newly-found-gas/2013/04/18/

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