Friday, June 20, 2014

Financial Times: boycott of Israel falters

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, "Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative" Straight from the Jerusalem Boardroom #196, June 20, 2014 1. "Financial Times contacted 15 of the world's biggest fund houses and 10 of the largest global pension funds to ask them what their stance was (on boycotting Israel). Half declined to comment or said they had no view; the remainder did not respond to requests for comment. A Dutch fund manager, who asked to remain anonymous, believes several senior executives at PGGM (the Dutch pension fund which was the first to announce that it would drop its holdings in five Israeli banks due to their financing of Israeli settlements) now regret excluding the five Israeli banks…. Both ABP, the biggest Dutch pension fund, and Nordea Investment Management, the large Nordic fund house, have since announced that they will remain invested in the Israeli banks…. (Financial Times, June 15, 2014). 2. US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro (Globes, June 16, 2014) on the mutually-beneficial, win-win, two way street US-Israel relations: "Two thirds of the more than 300 foreign research and development (R&D) centers, in Israel, were established by US companies. The key elements of US high tech products are developed in Israel. Israeli companies operate in all 50 States. In Massachusetts, Israeli businesses contributed over s$6bn to direct income, and generated more than 6,600 American jobs. Intel employs almost 10,000 Israelis in its four R&D centers and two manufacturing plants. In 1985, the US and Israel concluded a Free Trade Agreement, which transformed the US to Israel's leading trade partner: a $45bn annual trade balance…." Intel Capital and Blumberg Capital led a $10mn round of private placement by Israel's Fortscale (Globes, June 3). 3. During 2013, Norway's government-owned $900bn pension fund, which is the largest sovereign fund in the world, increased its holdings in Tel Aviv-traded stock by 43% (totaling $1bn), and its holdings in Israeli government bonds by 40% (totaling over $1bn), in addition to $200mn in TEVA Pharmaceuticals bonds. Norwegian companies are increasingly interested in Israel's offshore oil and natural gas explorations (Globes, June 10). 4. A month following its acquisition of Israel's Yad2, for $230mn, Axel Springer is offering to acquire Israel's Zap Group for $40mn (Globes. June 10). 5. "Hearing an Indian official talk the other day about Delhi's booming arms trade and ever-closer relationship with Israel, I had a thought that also struck me while listening to Israeli businessmen in Beijing….. Pivot to Asia is a term that might be applied to Israel. Its trade with China has boomed, reaching more than $8bn in 2013 from a pittance when diplomatic relations were established in 1992. Europe huffs and puffs about the West Bank settlements; Asia does business. India has already bought sea-to-sea missiles, radar for a missile-intercept system and communications equipment from Israel… (New York Times, Roger Cohen. April 24, 2014). 6. From 1984 through 2013 Israel's population grew from 4.1mn to 8.2mn. annual inflation was reduced from 447% to 1.5%, foreign exchange reserves expanded from $3.3bn to $90bn, exports surged from $10bn to $90bn, budget deficit/GDP ratio was reduced from 17% to 2.5%, defense expenditures/GDP ratio was shrunk from 20% to 5.5%, GDP increased from $26bn to almost $300bn and GDP per capita catapulted from $7,000 to $39,000 (Sever Plocker, Yediot Achronot).

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