Israeli economy, recession and the opportunity

The “Economist” magazine has led with a fascinating article, outlying how clever companies have seen the global recession as an opportunity, and not just a free fall to disaster.

The article notes how DuPont, P&G and many others thrived on the 1930s Great Depression. In the early 1990s, “Bain & Company discovered that twice as many firms made the leap from “laggards” to “leaders” (ie, from the bottom quartile of companies in their industry to the top quartile)”.

And in the past year:

There is also every reason to believe that the current recession will produce lots of upstarts. The Kauffman Foundation, which studies entrepreneurship, points out that about half of Fortune 500 and Inc. 500 companies (lists of the biggest and fastest-growing firms in America, respectively), including such household names as FedEx, CNN and Microsoft, were founded during recessions or bear markets. A disproportionate number of these upstarts produced industry-changing ideas that established companies failed to appreciate until it was too late. Indeed, business is more likely to take advantage of this “serious crisis” than the world’s politicians.

In the late winter 2009, I wrote about a conversation with a UK banker, who compared the Israeli and British attitudes to the recession. He noted that neither country could avoid it, but Israelis tackled it head on. They saw it as just another challenge to go out there and to perform in the market place.

Because of this psyche and because of Israel’s economic structure, I had always predicted that Israel would be one of the first to emerge from the recession. Enter the IMF to confirm what is happening to the local economy.

The IMF’s forecast of a 0.1% GDP contraction (for 2009) is better than its forecasts for all other developed economies, including the US ….. The IMF predicts an overall contraction of 3.4% for developed economies as a whole in 2009.The IMF’s growth forecast of 2.4% for Israel in 2010 is also among the fastest rates projected for next year among developed countries. Only five countries are predicted to do better.

No, not everything is rosy; worrying unemployment figures. And the shekel is too strong against the currencies of major trading partners, a disturbing parameter in an export dominated economy.

So, I will leave the last word to the Governor of the Bank of Israel, Stanley Fisher, and his usual cautious optimism.

“Today, I’m less worried. It’s possible to relax, but not to overdo it; there are still problems, and still more things that need to be done. I am however concerned that, because we are emerging quickly from the crisis, we might not derive from it all the lessons that we should, particularly in the financial system.

Explore posts in the same categories: Business, Israel

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