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June 14, 2013 2:03 pm

Stanley Fischer: Israel’s Greatest Economic Challenge is Poverty

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Stanley Fischer.

The biggest challenge facing Israel’s economy is poverty, outgoing Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer told Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) CEO Esther Levanon at the 13th TASE Investors Conference in London Friday, Globes reports.

“Our great challenges are to deal with poverty, especially among Arabs and haredim (ultra-orthodox). Poverty in Israel is unique, because its definition is different from the Americans’ definition. In Israel, we define it as half of the median salary. If everyone in Israel were to earn twice as much, poverty would not be reduced,” Globes quoted Fischer as saying.

Fischer did, however, tout the economy’s overall health.

“It is a fact that Israel survived the global economic crisis,” he said.

“The Israeli economy is in good shape. The annual budget should reduce the deficit to 3% of GDP, which is a task that the Israeli government set itself, not the EU or anyone else. We are growing fast, and we expect 3.8% growth, 1% of which is from gas. Israel’s growth is higher than in OECD countries,” Fischer added.

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  • Dian Kjaergaard

    I really don’t get this. The poverty definition cited is a measure of inequality. Without some kind of an absolute definition, it is impossible to talk about economics. Inequality may, indeed, be a very big problem, but the measure of “half the median salary” is not a very good measurement of inequality.