by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
1. According to “Israel – Island of Success,” by Dr. Adam Reuter and Noga Kainan (shortly on Amazon), the Israeli economy has surged beyond expectations:
*From a $35BN GDP in 1987 to $358BN in 2017 (923% growth);
*From an $8,000 GDP per-capita to $41,000 (413% growth), despite the dramatic expansion of the population from 4.4MN to 8.75MN;
*From a $4BN foreign exchange reserve to $112BN (2,700% growth);
*From a 10% export of GDP to 96% of GDP (860% growth);
*From a 155% government debt-GDP ratio to 62%;
*From a 17% defense-GDP ratio to 4.5%;
*From a 16% annual inflation to 0.3%;
*From a 3% use of desalinated water to 50% of demand;
*From a 75-year-old life expectancy to 82.
Unemployment has been reduced to (a practically full-employment) 4.1%.
2. According to the leading multinational auditing firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the scope of Israeli exits during 2017 was $7.44BN, excluding Mobileye’s $15.3BN and Neuroderm’s $1.1BN, acquired by Intel and Mitsubishi respectively. While it is 110% above 2016, the annual 2012-2015 exits were higher than 2017.
Eleven Israeli hightech companies benefitted from IPOs (Initial Public Offering) in Israel, the USA, Sweden, Britain and Australia, raising $414MN (e.g., ForeScout - $116MN on NASDAQ), compared to two IPOs and $44MN in 2016 and eight IPOs and $3.5BN in 2015 (Globes, Business Daily, December 28, 2017).
3. According to CitiBank, the state of the Israeli economy (and especially the balance-of-payment surplus, has strengthened Israel’s Shekel compared to the dollars of the US, Singapore and Taiwan (Globes, December 25).
4. The robust state of Israel’s economy - relatively to the rest of the advanced economies – has impacted the state of emigration from Israel. The net-number of Israeli emigrants – staying abroad for over a year – was 14,400 in 1990, declining to 11,800 in 2007 (the global economic meltdown), and then to 8,200 in 2015 (up from 6,800 in 2014). Thus, the scope of net-emigration from Israel has been cut by almost 50% since 1990, although Israel’s population has almost doubled during the same period.
5. China’s $480BN Alibaba, the electronic trade giant, established its first research & development center in Israel, acquiring the Israeli startup, Visualead, for $40MN. Six more research & development centers will be established in the US (2), China (2), Russia and Singapore (Globes, Nov. 30).
6. Charles and David Koch (Industries) participate in a $75MN-$150MN round of private investment in Israel’s (ultrasound technology) Insightec (Globes, December 15).
7. Japan’s SoftBank led a $120MN round of private placement by Israel’s Lemonade Insurance (artificial intelligence). Additional investors included Menlo Park’s Sequoia Capital, Cambridge’s General Catalyst and Mountain View’s Google Ventures (Globes, December 20).
8. $100MN invested in Israel’s Sirin Labs, which plans to launch the Blockchain (bitcoin)-based smartphone, Finney.
9. The innovation and technology department of the Czech car manufacturer, Skoda(a division within the Volkswagen Group), concluded an agreement with Israel’s Champion, aimed at identifying Israeli groundbreaking autonomous car technologies (Globes, December 18).