Some pretty big deals across the board as we send March on its way and welcome April in, especially for anyone needing to send money to Israel. Elsewhere, a full blown credit crunch erupts at the Ministry of Finance and Bank of Israel, and more people are starting to feel at home again in the real estate market. All that and more, plus everybody’s working for the weekend. What in the Holy Land could we possibly mean?  Read on find out.

Israel Economy Family Feud

Bank of Israel

Emotions were certainly running high between the Ministry of Finance and Bank of Israel over who deserves credit for the economy’s notable success. In making its case, the Ministry cited its ability to lower home prices after 12 years, lower taxes, and grow the economy despite what it has deemed “obstacles” presented by Bank of Israel. Interestingly, Bank of Israel was caught off guard by the critique, and instead chose to focus on the results reflected in rising salaries, a halt in price increases, and the recovery of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. The report cautioned the effect additional cuts in taxes could have on future governments, concern over the lack of engineers in Israel’s high-tech arena, low productivity, as well as the low participation by ultra-Orthodox citizens in the workforce, as items to keep an eye on going forward.

Israel Real Estate

Israel’s housing market finally received some promising news last week with the report of an impressive uptick in mortgage-taking for the first quarter of 2018.  The increase reflected in the Bank of Israel’s latest figures show 5% growth in both January and February versus the same period last year.  Additionally, the over $4.5 billion in new mortgages taken in March also represents a 5% jump as compared to March of 2017. Despite the rally over the past 3 months and potential developing trend, new mortgages in 2018 are still down from the record 15 billion shekels taken in the first quarter of 2016.

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And in case you missed it….

Let My People Go

A mixed multitude of Israeli workers will be tasting a little extra freedom after this Pesach, at least as far as work is concerned. In a just announced development, the Ministry of Labor has ruled in favor of  lowering of the Israel work week by one hour to 41. The change goes into effect on April 1 and will not result in any reduction in pay for workers. It will, however, result in a rise in the hourly minimum wage calculated on a basis of 182 working hours per week rather than 186. The reduction represents the latest step taken by the Ministry of Labor’s as it seeks to reach its ultimate goal of a 40 hour work week.

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