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December 26, 2014 / 4 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘shekel’

Two Chassidic Yeshivas Capitulate, Will Teach Core Curriculum

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

An expose in Kikar Hashabbat today reveals that while the entire Haredi public, guided by the clear rulings of many of their leaders, is fighting against the attempts by Israel’s Education Ministry to interject core curriculum subjects, like Math and English, into the Haredi yeshivas, “it turns out that underground the dangerous retreat from the purely holy education has begun, causing a great anxiety and fear among the great men of the generation.”

According to the Haredi website, the first two institutions to surrender have been both Chassidic yeshivas, one, Chidushay HaRim, is run by Gur in Tel Aviv, the other by Nadvorna in B’nei B’rak. Both are in the process of letting the exterior subjects into their study plans.

Both yeshivas have capitulated before the ministry’s pressures, says the website, in order to receive the full, 100 percent funding, like every other Israeli high school.

“In this dangerous precedence, the yeshivas have turned into religious high schools,” warns Kikar Hashabbat.

The legal status of both institutions has been altered by the Education Ministry, from “culturally unique,” the term used for most Haredi yeshivas, to ” recognized but not officially,” the term used for the majority of high schools in Israel (only the first 9 grades in the Israeli educational system are officially sanctioned and fully budgeted.)

The folks at the Gur educational system have attempted to conceal the change, according to Kikar Hashabbat, by renaming their institution “Youth education School” (Beit hasefer chinuch la’no’ar), but its online contact information takes users back to the Chidushei HaRim yeshiva.

Recently, the Education Ministry—which is headed by Rabbi Shai Piron, who is himself a Rosh Yeshiva—has been aggressively promoting the teaching of core curriculum subjects, in order to provide underprivileged, Haredi and Arab students with the needed foundations to become successful later on in life.

The program promotes proficiency in Languages, Literature, Math, Science, Technology, and Physical Aptness. All of these are, obviously, perceived by the bulk of the Haredi leadership as an attack on Torah values.

Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, the most prominent Haredi posek in Israel today, is, understandably, the most vehement voice against the core curriculum plan. Pointing to the questionable achievements of secular Israeli education, Rabbi Shteinman urges his followers—the bulk of Haredi society, at least until the Kikar Hashabbat story came out—to stand as a fortified wall before the new decree and “not alter even by a hair’s breadth the educational path we received and passed on until today.”

Still, if the Haredi establishment fears an all out assault by the government, specifically Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, they’re not wrong. Shahar Ilan, VP of the Chidush, a left wing NGO dealing with issues of freedom and religion, checked out Lapid’s promises to cut severely in the funding for Haredi yeshivas, and, as Globes reported Thursday, discovered that the minister remained true to his words.

The overall budget for Haredi yeshivas and kolelim used to be in the billion shekel range (just under $300 million) annually. This budget cuts it down in the coming school year to 650 million shekel (just under $200 million), and in the following year down to 400 million shekel (just over $100 million).

That’s quite a haircut. Coupled with the severe cuts in child support to large families, it appears that the majority of the Haredi yeshivas will probably buckle under the economic pressure, sooner or later, and with a variety of inventive ways of concealing their shame.

Like every other political issue, the truth is somewhere between the Haredi leadership who refuses to consider even the knowledge of English and Math as information their youths could probably use – and the Yesh Atid brutal attack on the Haredi economy, which includes actually taking bread and milk away from babies.

Shekel-Dollar Rate Sinks Below 3.53

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The American dollar’s worldwide weakness helped drive down the shekel-dollar rate to below 3.53 shekels to the dollar Thursday, the lowest level since September 2011. One shekel now is worth 28 cents.

Analysts have pointed to the lack of certainty over who will replace Stanley Fischer as Governor of the Bank of Israel, but the main influence on the shekel has been the weakening dollar.

Intervention by the Bank of Israel, which bought $100 million of dollars Wednesday, did little to weaken the shekel against speculators who are betting on the shekel dollar rate to continue to drop. The shekel might weaken is and when the Federal Reserve Board explicitly announces it will reduce its bond purchases.

Google to Buy Waze for $1.3 Billion

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Google will fork out $1.3 billion to buy the Israeli-based Waze social-friendly navigation app, the Hebrew-language Globes business newspaper reported Sunday. Waze’s staff reportedly will remain in Raanana.

Facebook reportedly was in front of the lineup to buy Waze, but Waze rejected the condition that its staff be transferred to the United States. Waze may also have been holding out for more money, and Google came up with the right price.

Apple had been rumored to be a potential bidder, but Apple CEO Tim Cook denied those reports.

Waze has soared in popularity, with more than 50 million users around the world, and that number is growing every day.

Google has shown that it loves Israel. In 2010, it bought up website gadget developer LabPixies for $25 million and interactive video-clip developer QuikSee for $10 million, and has set up a Google office here. Facebook, on the other hand, has closed down the Israeli operations of most of the companies it bought up.

The Waze app allows drivers using smartphone and tablet to share information on driving times and traffic situations, as well as the location of police radar traps, accidents and hazardous conditions. Based on user-shared information, it helps users find the fastest path to their destination taking into account traffic conditions and preferred routes.

The $1.3 billion price tag is more than 40 times the $30 million of financing Waze received less than year ago, three years after it was founded.  Waze’s founders will be instant multi-millionaires thanks to the Google purchase, which has not been officially confirmed.

But no one has denied the purchase eitehr. Waze told Globes “no comment,” and Google said, “We don’t relate to rumors and speculation.”

The influx of another $1.3 billion into Israel is great news for the Finance Ministry and for anyone purchasing items whose prices are based on the dollar. It is terrible news for exporters and for Israelis whose salaries come from the United States.

The influx of dollars will put downward pressure on the shekel-dollar rate, which dropped last week to 3.61 shekels to the dollar.

Last month. Warren Buffet paid out $2 billion to buy the remaining shares of the Iscar precision tool maker, and PepsiCo and Coca Cola are now rumored to be offering approximately $2 billion for the Israeli SodaStream manufacturer of machines that convert tap water into soda, and which had become an international hit.

The influx of those big bucks, along with the prospects of Israel’s exporting gas and bringing in more foreign currency, has strengthened the shekel. It also is a major headache for corporations and wage earners whose profits and salaries are in dollars and then converted to shekels.

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer has tried to battle the drop in the shekel-dollar rate by cutting the interest rate by a quarter of a percent, twice in two weeks, and announcing a $2 billion buying binge of dollars. So far, the “Fischer effect” has been negligible and the rate has continued to drop.

Following the report of the Google purchase of Waze, the exchange rate may drop again Monday when currency trading resumes, unless Fischer buys more dollars – lots of them.

Report: PepsiCo Offered $2B for ‘Settlements’ Labeled SodaStream

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

With SodaStream, we could have saved 500 million bottles on Game Day alone. If you love the bubbles set them free.”

PepsiCo is negotiating with Israeli-based SodaStream to buy out the firm for $2 billion, according to the Israeli Calcalist business newspaper. SodaStream’s shares in Germany shot up nearly 20 percent after the report.

SodaStream, listed on NASDAQ, manufactures machines that make carbonated drinks from tap water and also produces flavors, carbon dioxide refills and re-usable bottles.

Officials at the two companies refused to comment on the report or were not available.

SodaStream has become a big hit in the United States, where the company “stole the show” with its commercials during the Super Bowl this year, drawing bitter complaints from carbonated beverage companies, which applied pressure to CBS for SodaStream to tone down its message  that buying carbonated beverages in plastic bottles is bad for the environment. Pepsi and Coke also did not like the idea of SodaStream making fun of their companies, and the original version of the commercial was canned but can be seen below

A buyout by PepsiCo, or possibly by Coca Cola if SodaStream wants to try for a larger purchase, could place the company’s facility in Maaleh Adumim, east of Jerusalem, in jeopardy.

Soda Stream is a favorite target of the Boycott Israel movement because of the plant’s location beyond the old borders of Israel. The rub, as Lori Lowenthal Marcus explained in an article Tuesday night, is that SodaStream’s American-born CEO Daniel Birnbaum promotes hiring and treating Palestinian Authority Arabs just like Jews.

Both Arab and Jews share the company dining hall in Maaleh Adumim, and there are facilities for both Muslim ands Jews to pray.

The Maaleh Adumim factory employs approximately 900 Arabs from Judea and Samaria. “Everyone works together – Palestinians, Russians, Jews,” a Palestinian employee named Rasim at the Maaleh Adumim site previously has been quoted as saying. “Everything is OK. I always work with Jews. Everyone works together, so of course we’re friends.”

The report of a possible buyout sent the shekel-dollar rate down approximately half a percentage point, to below 3.65 shekels to the dollar, because of the possible injection of $2 billion worth of shekels.


World Financial Honchos to Attend $30,000 Bye-Bye Bash to Fischer

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers will join several other world financial leaders on June 18 for a $30,000 farewell party for Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, the Globes business newspaper reported Thursday.

Fischer is leaving in the middle of his second term of office after having made aliyah to take the post as Bank Governor in 2005.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, Central Bank of Ireland Governor Patrick Honohan, Central Bank of Chile Governor Rodrigo Vergara, JPMorgan Chase International chairman and former Bank of Israel governor, Jacob Frankel and world monetary expert reportedly will be among those at the party.

Fischer began his term as Israel was riding a wave of strong economic growth and unprecedented stability and low inflation.

He is leaving behind a fractured economy and a housing shortage that has angered Israelis.

Dizzy Dollar Dumps the Shekel

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

The shekel-dollar rate has soared 4 percent in the past two weeks, with the latest jump today (Wednesday) prompted by expectations that the Bank of Israel will lower the interest rate again in June.

The rate crossed the level of 3.69 shekels to the dollar on Wednesday after having dropped under 3.55 shekels to the dollar earlier this month.

After Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer announced a plan for a $2 billion buying binge to purchase dollars, the rate jumped towards 3.60 and then moved up again when he sprung a surprise mid-month quarter of a percent cut in the interest rate. The Bank almost always decides at the end of the nth on the interest rate for the following month.

A lower rate makes the shekel less attractive to investors and helps exporters, whose revenue Finance Ministry dollars will be worth more shekels after conversion.

Expectations of another cut to be announced next week caused speculators and investors to dump shekels Wednesday. Analysts are divided on whether the new upward trend of the shekel-dollar rate will continue or if the shekel will regain strength, partly due to plans to export natural gas from offshore discoveries.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/fischer-cuts-interest-rate-and-says-bank-to-buy-2-billion-dollars/2013/05/13/

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