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What is the New Israel shekel (ILS)?

Credit Ratings & Outlook

In the latest credit ratings from December 1970, Moody's gives Israel a A1 rating, with a stable outlook. Fitch has a stable outlook with a A rating. Finally, S&P last issued a A+ rating, with a stable outlook.

Sovereign credit ratings play an important part in determining a country’s access to international capital markets, and the terms of that access. Sovereign ratings help to foster dramatic growth, stability, and efficiency of international and domestic markets.

Central Bank Rate

The current central bank interest rate is 2.50%. This is the same as 2011, which was 2.75%.

GDP

In 2010 the total GDP was $217,332,709,280 in US Dollars, while the per capita GDP was $28,506. It grew by 4.66% over the previous year.

Unemployment

The latest unemployment rate for 2011 is 5.00%.

Consumer Price Index

The latest consumer price index for 2010 is 113.91.

Political Structure

The current head of the government is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the head of state is President Shimon Peres (in a ceremonial role).

Currency Details

The name “shekel” was derived from an ancient unit of weight that amounts to approximately one ounce or 12 grams. The New Israel shekel , issued by the Bank of Israel, was introduced on September 4, 1985. It replaced the “old” shekel, at a rate of one new shekel per 1000 “old” shekel. The “old” shekel replaced the Israeli pound on February 24, 1980, at a rate of one shekel per 10 pounds. Since January 1, 2003, the New Israel shekel has been a freely convertible currency as all capital controls have been removed. A floating exchange rate regime with inflation had been implemented in 1992. Since then, all capital controls have been moved making a free convertible currency.

Moody’s Rating
A1, 17 Apr 2008
S&P Rating
AA

Sovereign credit ratings play an important part in determining a country’s access to international capital markets, and the terms of that access. Sovereign ratings help to foster dramatic growth, stability, and efficiency of international and domestic markets.

What does it look like?

Political Structure

Israel is a parliamentary democracy, consisting of legislative, executive and judicial branches. Its institutions are the Presidency, the Knesset (parliament), the Government (cabinet), the Judiciary and the State Comptroller. The system is based on the principle of separation of powers, with checks and balances, in which the executive branch (the government) is subject to the confidence of the legislative branch (the Knesset) and law guarantees the independence of the judiciary.

Prominent Figures

Chief of State President Shimon PERES (since 15 July 2007)
Head of Government Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU (since 31 March 2009)
Cabinet Cabinet selected by prime minister and approved by the Knesset
Elections president is largely a ceremonial role and is elected by the Knesset for a seven-year term (one-term limit); election last held 13 June 2007 (next to be held in 2014 but can be called earlier); following legislative elections, the president, in consultation with party leaders, assigns the task of forming a governing coalition to a Knesset member who he or she determines is most likely to accomplish that task
Election Results Shimon PERES elected president; number of votes in first round – Shimon PERES 58, Reuven RIVLIN 37, Colette AVITAL 21; PERES elected president in second round with 86 votes (unopposed)

Key Economic Factors

Consumer Price Index:

The CPI is a statistical measure of a weighted average of prices of a specified set of goods and services purchased by earners in urban areas. The CPI can be used to track changes in prices of goods and services, and is an index often used to measure the level of inflation in a country. The history of the CPI in Israel goes back to 1942, when amidst the Second World War, the Mandatory government decided to freeze all prices, wages and rents. After this move, however, it soon became obvious that market forces were stronger than government policy; prices were still creeping upward. To compensate employees for this increase in prices without simultaneously “unfreezing” wages, the government decided to link salaries to the CPI, assuring that neither wages would rise faster than inflation nor that an individual’s purchasing power would decline. The Manufacturer’s Association and Histadrut (labor federation) were soon signed regarding this agreement, and this linkage is today considered one of the most fundamental components of Israeli economic history. Like all central banks, the Bank of Israel has always considered inflation to be the primary issue to be addressed; however, it has not always been successful in its endeavors. Key examples of this failure are in the 1970s and 80s, when hyperinflation plagued?rising from 13% in 1971 to a monstrous 445% in 1984 and generally during wars and extensive waves of immigration, when the Bank has failed to offset the inflationary effects of the government’s deficit spending. While the fight against inflation has been strong in the last decade- due to the Economic Stabilization Policy and other efforts- challenges still lie ahead. High inflation is viewed as the norm, after decades of double digit price increases?and more importantly, any signal of increasing inflation, has a prompt effect on markets and their participants. The persistence of monopolies and other non-competitive market situations creates inefficiencies and high prices in the economy, and as a small, trade-reliant economy, Israel is more vulnerable to imported inflation than a bigger economy.

Imports (namely, of oil):

Israel produces almost no oil and imports nearly all of its oil needs (which in 2003, amounted to 279,000 bbl/d). Traditionally, major oil import sources have included Egypt, the North Sea, West Africa, and Mexico; and, in more recent years, imports from Russia and the Caspian region have increased as well. Given the scope of its imports, it is extremely important to track Israel’s import numbers?most specifically, in the sphere of oil.

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