At 70, Israel’s economy exceeds expectations

Since the year 2000, the economy of the Jewish state has leapt 65 percent—the second best among OECD countries.

Israeli currency. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.
Israeli currency. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.
Yoram Ettinger
Yoram Ettinger
Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.

Straight from the Jerusalem Boardroom #228, April 25, 2018

1. In 1948, conventional wisdom considered the newly re-established Jewish state insolvent economically, indefensible militarily, a basket case, totally dependent upon handouts.
2. In 2018, Forbes magazine quoted Warren Buffett (Feb. 26, 2018): “I’m not Jewish, but Israel reminds me of the USA after its birth. The determination, motivation, intelligence and initiative of its people are remarkable and extraordinary. I’m a big believer in Israel’s economy.”
According to Forbes, “Buffett just purchased a $358 million stake in Teva Pharmaceutical, 1.8% of Teva’s outstanding shares. … In 2006, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway purchased an 80% stake in Israel’s Iscar for $4 billion, its first international acquisition. … In 2013, Berkshire bought out the remaining 20% for $2 billion. … Other Israeli companies purchased by Berkshire include eVolution Networks, creators of wireless network energy savings software, Ray-Q Interconnect, a distributor of electronic components and AgroLogic, a designer of electronic control units for agriculture.”
3. Amazon’s Israel, Island of Success by Adam Reuter and Noga Kainan, provides critical data on Israel’s surging economy:

From 1987 to 2017
, Israel’s population upsurged from 4.4 million to 8.75 million; GDP, from $35 billion to $358 billion; GDP per capita, from $8,000 to $41,000; tax burden, from 45% to 30%; foreign-exchange reserves, from $4 billion to $112 billion; national debt to GDP ratio, from 155% to 59%; defense expenditures, from 17% to 4.5% of GDP; U.S. foreign aid (actually, U.S. investment in Israel), from 7% to 1% of GDP; exports, from $10 billion to $102 billion; independent energy resources, from 4% to 65% (66% of electricity consumption); desalinated water, from 3% to 50%; annual inflation, from 16% (450% in 1985) to 0.30%; life expectancy, from 75 to 82 years; women’s participation in the job market, from 36% to 58%.
Since the year 2000, Israel’s economy has grown 65%, the second best among OECD countries.
During 2000-2016, the number of wage-earners in the lowest (poorest) 10 percent grew by 58%, in the second lowest, 73%; in the third, 45%; and in the fourth, 35%.
Israel’s unemployment: 4%, the lowest in 40 years.
Israel’s median age is the youngest among the OECD countries: 30.
Israel’s fertility rate is the highest among advanced economies: In 2017, the Jewish rate (3.16 births per woman) exceeded the Arab rate (3.11), while the ultra-Orthodox rate declined moderately and secular rate surged. In 1969, the Arab fertility rate was six births higher than the Jewish rate.
Brain drain? During 1980-2010, 30,000 Israelis with academic degrees left Israel for a year, while 265,000 olim (new Jewish immigrants) with academic degrees settled in Israel, representing a net gain of 235,000.
During 2011-2016, some 4,000 Ph.Ds returned to Israel following, at least, three years abroad; more than 50% of the 4,900 newly hired senior university staff were returning emigrants, half of them 30 to 40 years old. About 2,500 returning academicians were absorbed by Israel’s industrial sector.
4. In 2018, Silicon Valley $19 billion giant, KLA Tencor, acquired Israel’s Orbotech for $3.4 billion (Globes Business Daily, March 20, 2018). It is one of the 10 top exits in Israel’s high-tech: Intel acquired Mobileye ($5 billion), Lucent acquired Chromatis ($4.75 billion), HP acquired Mercury ($4.5 billion), a Chinese consortium acquired Playtika ($4.4 billion), KLA Tencor acquired Orbotech ($3.4 billion), Sundisk acquired M-Systems ($1.6 billion), Mitsubishi acquired Neurodrum ($1.1 billion), Google acquired Waze ($1 billion) and Edwards Lifesciences acquired Valtech Cardio ($1 billion).

5. In 2018, the $17 billion cybersecurity giant, Palo Alto Networks, acquired Israel’s startup, Secdo, for $100MN. Nike acquired the computerized-vision Israeli startup, Invertex (Globes, April 11). The medical-equipment giant Medtronic (85,000 employees) acquired Israel’s Vision Sense (invasive mini-surgery) for $75 million, its ninth Israeli investment in 13 years, including three research-and-development centers (Globes, April 10).

Intel led, along with Sequoia Venture Capital Fund, BMW and iVenture, a round of $50 million private placement in Israel’s Moovit public-transportation navigation (Globes, Feb. 22). China’s Principle Capital acquired the PCB division of Israel’s Priortech for $35 million and then invested $20MN in Priortech (Globes, April 5). Israel’s $5 billion Elbit acquired the American company, Universal Avionics Systems Corp., for $120 million.
Ambassador Yoram Ettinger is a consultant on U.S.-Israel relations and the Middle East. He served as Minister for Congressional Affairs at Israel’s Embassy in Washington, D.C., Israel’s Consul General to the Southwestern USA and director of Israel’s Government Press Office.
This article was originally published at www.TheEttingerReport.com.
The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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