ECONOMIE : Introduction

    En 2006 et 2007, trois objectifs macro-économiques ont été atteints : un taux d'inflation  quasiment nul, voire négatif, un déficit budgétaire très bas et une restriction contrôlée des dépenses publiques.

    Edition française du soixantième anniversaire de l'Etat d'Israël - 2008​​​​​
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    Photo: I. Stzulman
    עובד אדמתו ישבע לחם... משלי י"ב: י"א

    Celui qui cultive la terre a du pain à satiété... (Proverbes 12, 11)

    Après avoir longtemps bénéficié de l'un des taux de croissance du PIB le plus rapide du monde, Israël poursuit le redressement économique entamé en 2003, après deux années marquées par un net ralentissement dans presque tous les secteurs. La tendance s'est poursuivie en 2007, comme le soulignent les indicateurs économiques. Les années 2006 et 2007 ont indiqué une tendance à la hausse du Produit national brut qui atteignait 5,1 % en 2006 malgré la Seconde Guerre du Liban qui provoqua une décrue temporaire de 0,7 % du PNB. La relance rapide et la poursuite de la croissance ont été une fois de plus catalysées par le secteur commercial qui a bénéficié d'une hausse de 6,4 % et un score impressionnant de 20 138 dollars US du PNB par habitant.

    En 2006 et 2007, trois objectifs macro-économiques ont été atteints : un taux d'inflation  quasiment nul, voire négatif, un déficit budgétaire très bas et une restriction contrôlée des dépenses publiques. Parallèlement, Israël a continué d'attirer des investissements étrangers, à bénéficier d'une croissance rapide de ses exportations et, pour la première fois dans son histoire, à équilibrer sa balance des paiements. Ces tendances se sont poursuivies au cours de la première moitié de l'année 2007, et les prévisions sont optimistes : pas d'inflation à l'horizon, un déficit budgétaire bas et stabilité économique sur tous les fronts.

    Avec une population dépassant les 7 millions d'habitants, Israël suscite depuis des années les éloges du  monde entier, notamment pour ses exceptionnelles réalisations en agriculture et en agro-technologie, en  méthodes d'irrigation, énergie solaire, hautes technologies et start-ups. S'appuyant sur l'intensification de la recherche et du développement  dans le secteur de pointe comme dans le secteur de l'industrie conventionnelle,  Israël n'est plus seulement le “pays où coulent le lait et le miel” , mais aussi et surtout le pays du high-tech, des logiciels les plus sophistiqués, des communications, des percées en biotechnologie, en produits pharmaceutiques et en nano-technologies.

    Des accords de libre-échange conclus avec les Etats-Unisl'Union européenne, et plusieurs pays d'Amérique latine ont facilité les exportations de biens et services d'Israël (qui ont dépassé les 60 milliards de dollars en 2006), ainsi que sa participation à des entreprises internationales qui ont contribué à la croissance accélérée du pays.​

    In late 2008, as some of the world’s financial giants began to stumble and markets around the world seemed on the verge of collapse, no one was sure how Israel’s fragile, export-based economy would fare. As time wore on, however, Israel showed its economic strength lay not only in its capability for expansion during the boom years, but in its resilience during times of economic contraction.

    Now, as the global economy haltingly emerges from recession, Israel has quickly regained economic momentum, shown first in a stock market which outperformed all Western bourses in 2009, and later finding expression in increased exports, declining unemployment and robust consumer demand.


    A strong position on the eve of the crisis

    Israel was well prepared when, in 2008, the effects of the financial crisis began to ripple across world economies. From a macroeconomic perspective, Israel found itself in one of its strongest positions since its inception. The budget deficit had been largely reined in and the national debt was greatly reduced, thanks to aggressive spending cuts and increased tax revenues. Israel was a sought-after target of foreign investment and was enjoying a positive trade balance for the first time in its history.

    The crisis could have spelled an end to these halcyon days, but Israel’s growth proved to be robust enough to withstand the consequences of the financial downturn of 2008.


    Israel withstands the recession

    Three main reasons are often cited to explain Israel’s strength in the face of such severe challenges.

    The first reason is Israel's conservative banking sector. A strong regulatory system and a moderate banking tradition kept Israel’s banks away from the adventurous instruments which proved so disastrous in the US and Britain. In addition, as world investors got jittery, they were assured by Israeli banks’ strong capitalization.

    Another reason was the labor market’s elasticity in coping with the new reality. Major players, including the Histadrut (Israel's largest labor federation) understood the wisdom of accepting short-term pay cuts during the early stages of the crisis, and unemployment also increased significantly, in parallel with global developments.

    As the economy recuperated over the course of 2009, wages and employment quickly returned to their previous levels, even as labor markets in the US and Europe remained sluggish.

    However, the strength of domestic consumption over the course of the crisis is really what stands Israel apart in its macroeconomic adjustment. As the recession hit, Israelis cut their durable goods expenditures, but largely kept their nondurable goods spending even with pre-recession levels, cutting into personal savings to "smooth out" the drop in income. This was a primary factor in maintaining a stable GDP, and allowing the Israeli economy to weather the recession successfully. As the world moved out of recession in 2009, domestic spending on both durable and nondurable goods picked up quickly, further aiding the country’s recovery.

    Long-term potential

    The Israeli "economic miracle" is much more than a story of recession and recovery - it is the story of an economy that was built from scratch, survived numerous crises and severe economic deprivation, and has finally emerged as a successful, freemarket economy whose citizens enjoy a high standard of living.

    With a population in 2010 of more than 7.5 million, Israel has been internationally acclaimed throughout the years, in particular for its extraordinary achievements in agriculture and agrotechnology, irrigation, solar energy, and in many hi-tech industries and start-ups. Based on intensive R&D, even in traditional industries, Israel today is not only the land of milk and honey but also the land of hi-tech, including software, communications, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and nanotechnology.

    Free-trade agreements reached over the past three decades with the United States, the European Union and several countries in Latin America have facilitated Israel's expanding exports of goods and services - more than $80 billion in 2008 - as well as its participation in international business enterprises that contributed to the country's accelerated growth.


    The date of May 10, 2010, will remain a remarkable milestone in Israel’s economic history. After years of struggling against pressures and challenges of all kinds, Israel has finally joined the ranks of the world's foremost economies, as it was granted membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the OECD.

    The country's accession to the OECD will have substantive effects, as Israel is committed to the organization’s regulations governing sectors ranging from the environment to the pension market. Indeed, the accession process pushed Israel to make fundamental changes befitting a modern economy, including reduction of Israel's debt, maintaining fiscal and development policies, cutting taxes and making the capital market more sophisticated.

    OECD membership will allow Israel greater access to certain types of managed investment funds, which are required to reserve a proportion of their holdings for developed countries.

    But the true significance of Israel's OECD membership is the recognition by the world economy of the tremendous progress that Israel has made during its 62 years of existence.

  • Le Shekel

    Photo: I. Sztulman

    Le shekel, “sicle” de la Bible, est l'unité monétaire d'Israël (d'une valeur de 0,26 dollar en juillet 2010) est connu depuis le deuxième millénaire avant l'ère chrétienne comme unité de poids pour les paiements en or et en argent. La Bible rapporte qu'Abraham négocia l'achat d'un terrain  et du caveau qui s'y trouvait  à Makhpéla, près d'Hébron, dans ces termes :

    Je te donnerai l'argent pour ce terrain; prends-le et j'y enterrerai mon mort". Ephron, le propriétaire, lui répondit: "Le terrain vaut quatre cents shekels d'argent... Et Abraham pesa pour Ephron... quatre cents shekels d'argent en monnaie courante.  (Genèse XXIII, 13, 15-16)​