Monday, January 25, 2010

Israel's Economy Exceeds OECD Countries

Yoram Ettinger, Jerusalem

1. London Economist (January 2010): Israel's 2009 economic performance, in face of global meltdown, suggests impressive growth in 2010. Israel's GDP grew in 2009 by 0.5%, compared to an average 3.5% decline in OECD countries: US – 2.5% decline, Japan – 6.5% decline, Germany – 4.9% decline, Britain – 4.7% decline, Italy – 4.8% decline, Ireland – 7.5% decline, etc. The Economist projects a 3.7% growth for Israel's 2010 economy and less than 7% unemployment (7.7% in 2009), compared with a 2.4% OECD growth and 8.8% OECD unemployment. Israel's inflation is projected to be 1.7%, compared to 3% in 2009 and OECD's inflation of 1.2% (1.3% in 2009).
Morgan Stanley raises growth forecast for Israel to 3.7%, beyond Bank of Israel's forecast of 3.5% (Globes, Jan. 18, 2010).

Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) reported (Israel Hayom daily, Jan. 1, 2010) a 2.9% budget deficit (% of GDP), which is higher than the 0.8% of 2008, but dramatically lower than most Western economies, some of which exceeded 10%. The ICBS also reported a 6.5BN trade balance surplus, a 75% increase in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and a 1.3% decline of GDP per capita, compared with a 2.2% increase in 2008.

2. Israel's high-tech holding its own. The number of Israeli high-tech companies, which enticed investment, remained high (447 compared with 483 in 2008), attesting to the attraction of Israel to venture capitalists. The volume of dollar invested decreased significantly, as a result of drying investment resources and lower market valuations: $1.1BN in 2009, in comparison with $2BN – 2008, $1.8BN – 2007, $1.6BN – 2006, $1.3BN – 2005, $1.5BN – 2004 and $1BN in 2003 (Ma'ariv, Jan. 19).

3. Microsoft expands R&D operations in Israel, adding a few scores of employees to the 600 currently employed (Globes, Jan. 6).

4. Merger & Acquisition of Israeli companies persist. DVTel acquired Israel's Ioimage for $80MN in stock (Globes, Jan. 13). DotHill acquired Israel's Cloverleaf for $113MN (Globes, Jan. 6).

5. Overseas VC investment in Israel. China's $1BN Zhejiang Sanhua invested $9.5MN in Israel's Heliofocus (Globes, Jan. 6). Europe's FilVest, which specializes in bio-med investment, led a $12MN round of private placement by Israel's Endogen - FilVest's first investment in Israel (Globes, Jan. 11). Oracle, Pennsylvania's Susquehanna Growth Equity, Silicon Valley's Hyperion, Boston's Battery Ventures and Briatain's Stage One Ventures co-led a $10MN round of private placement by Israel's cVidia (Globes, Jan. 15). invested $9MN in Israel's Wisair (Globes, Jan. 12). Sequoia Capital participated in a $3MN fourth round by Israel's SunRad (Globes, Jan. 19). Virginia Life Sciences Investments led a $3MN seoncd round of private placement by Israel's Cupron n(Globes, Jan. 20).

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