Quote for the Week
“Happiness doesn’t just happen you have to create it” Author unknown. (Israelis are experts at doing just that [see final item])
· He doesn’t look a day over 60; he works an 18 hour day; in the past three years he has held 700 meetings with everybody who is anybody worldwide; he’s given 600 interviews, in Hebrew, English, French and could have done so in Polish if anyone had asked and perhaps they did, to the world’s media; he’s hosted 260 events at home; he’s traveled the country from end to end on numerous occasions and has made 28 official visits abroad. In addition to all this he devours books, is a news junkie and finds time to write poetry, good poetry at that. And he turned 87 this week. Who is he? Our indefatigable President and in terms of years, the world’s senior statesman, Mr Shimon Peres. Many happy returns, Mr President, ad me’ah ve’esrim. May you live to be 120.
· The Bank of Israel’s foreign currency reserves rose by $1.22 billion in July 2010 to $64.31 billion, the highest amount since April. The increase was due to a $1.43 billion revaluation caused by the Euro’s 6% rise against the dollar, which increased the reserves in dollar terms. Everybody should be so lucky. Just sit in an air conditioned office and let your money revalue itself. The BOI certainly knows how to do it.
· And since we’re in the big money league let’s try this one; Israeli defense companies have scored one of the biggest deals in the industry’s history: They will be making about $4 billion worth of parts for the next, and probably last, generation of American fighter jets. Not quite official yet but we’ve been assured that it soon will be. Israeli defense officials have been talking with the U.S. companies involved in the development and production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The last generation, we hear you ask? So we’ve heard because from now on all fighter aircraft will be robotically controlled but not to worry Israel is ahead of the game when it comes to robotic avionics too. By the way, we’re in the market for buying 20 F-35’s as soon as they roll off the assembly line – or whatever they do from wherever they’re put together.
· Not finished yet. Israel Petroleum Company says that Myra and Sarah, those are the off-shore gas fields remember, are worth $10b and that’s a lot of gas – it’s also a whole heap of money by anybody’s count.
· And talking gas, another large natural reservoir of the stuff found offshore from Israel, most likely amounts to 12 trillion cubic feet. Let’s take a closer look at those numbers – 12 trillion is 12 000 000 000 000 and a cubic foot is a cube, one foot [30cms] high, one foot wide and one foot deep, so imagine 12 trillion of those – oh, never mind! Anyway the new field is 50% larger than Tamar, a sister to Myra and Sarah, according to US Geological Survey (USGS) geologist Christopher Schenk and you wouldn’t want to argue with him.
· Staying with the stratospheric amounts, we ask the question- When are taxes GN? Not often but it happens when the tax payer and the tax collector are both happy and this joyous combination took place right here in Israel last month [and the month before]. We quote from GN Israel 16 07 … “[T]ax freedom day? It’s the day of the year when Israelis have earned enough income to cover all their taxes for that year and this year it fell on June 22 a whole 25 days earlier than last year.” So the taxpayer smiled. What about the tax collector? Tax collection hit record heights in July, surprising even the die hard optimists at the Tax Authority and the Treasury. The taxman collected just over NIS 19 billion, the biggest amount ever collected in a single month. NIS 6 billion more than was collected in June and 2.9% more than collected in July 2009. And while the mavens at the Treasury were talking growth of 1% this year they’re now predicting nearer to 4% [we’re saying 4.7 and please remember where you first heard it]. There’s only one thing to make the GN complete and that is that the government spends the extra money wisely and well and to the benefit of us all.
· We reported in GN ISRAEL 16 07 that Travel and Leisure” magazine had named Jerusalem as the best city in Africa and the Middle East with Tel Aviv placed third. How was the city that never sleeps going to live that one down? Well they didn’t really have to and the world could no longer ignore the Tel Aviv shore’s charm. So The National Geographic [no less] ranked Tel Aviv in ninth place in its list of the World’s Top 10 Beach Cities. To quote the prestigious magazine “Call it the Miami Beach of the Mediterranean,” “In the ‘bubble,’ as it’s known for its inhabitants’ tendency to tune out regional skirmishes,” they wrote. “Some restaurants, discos, and clubs are open until dawn. By day, the scene shifts to the city’s promenade and eight miles ( 13 kilometers ) of magnificent beach literally a few steps away from the bustling metropolis that is TA.”
· ‘If you have any doubts that China – or India, or Asia generally – is where it’s at then you aren’t on the same page as a growing number of Israeli companies’, is what we wrote in GN last week and now we have the figures to prove it. India was the second-biggest market in the first half of 2010 for Israeli exports, totaling $990 million, an increase of 102% in dollar terms. We exported $228 million worth of chemical products to the sub-continent. Metals and metal products went up from $21 million to $130 million, an increase of 524%. China rose to fifth place with exports of $755 million, up $115 million in dollar terms. How can you lose when you’re talking a combined population of over 3 billion people? So go east young man because that’s where the up and coming action is.
· OECD figures for triadic patents (no, we didn’t know what they are either but we looked it up and they are patents registered in at least three international patent offices) in 2007 – the latest figure available – show Israel earned 494, while Turkey came in second [in the Middle East that is] with 24. Israel has generated far more patents and earned more Nobel science prizes than the rest of the region combined. Why are we not surprised?
· We have a new medalist in that most elegant of sports, fencing, with Ms Noam Mills winning a bronze in the epee competition at the European Championships. Noam now has her eye on the winners’ dais at the London Olympics in 2012 and we’ll be watching her progress with interest.
· Forbes Magazine which is as authoritative as they come conducted a happiness poll in 155 countries and according to the responses that folk provided, they were divided into three groups: thriving, struggling, and suffering. The poll showed that no less than 62% of Israel’s citizens are “thriving”, in other words they are contented with their lives and are happy. Israel outranked countries like the US and Britain as well as all of its neighbors in the Middle East and shares eighth place with three other countries – Australia, Canada, and Switzerland. Not included in this poll but noted in the Money Tree by Price Waterhouse, Israelis’ expectations regarding their personal economic condition are at an all time high and on that happy note we end this weeks edition of GN ISRAEL