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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Horn Of Plenty On New Jewish Shekel?

(Globes Online) The Bank of Israel has confirmed that it will mint a NIS 2 coin, as first reported by "Globes". The process took shape in recent months, following the establishment of the Bank of Israel advisory committee. Minister of Finance Abraham Hirchson must give final approval for the minting of the new coin. The procedures will be completed in a few months.

I was trying to see if the bank had any images of what the coin may look like, but visiting their site (as well as a Google search) revealed nothing.

For those who do not know what a "horn of plenty" looks like, hopefully the photo above will give you a clue.

No Tax Increase For Israeli Citizens

With the Lebanon war raging, the Finance Minister of Israel has decided that the nation should not raise taxes in order to benefit not only those who are out of work (do to the rocket attacks against the cities) but also to keep the Israeli economy stable.

But before you yell out praise, the deal gets even sweeter.

(Globes Online) Minister of Finance Abraham Hirchson told the forum of Knesset committee chairpersons today that the government had no plans to raise taxes either this year or next. He said he suspended discussions on the 2007 budget until after the war and an evaluation of its results. [...]

Hircshon said all the Ministry of Finance's measures were designed to compensate victims of the war beyond direct damage as quickly as possible. "Israel must demonstrate to the world, especially foreign investors, that this is a country with a stable economy able to survive the crisis and immediately after the war continue to develop and function normally."

With the shekel also improving this should put more money is Israelis pockets for a while. This should also encourage foreign investors to continue to...well invest in Israel.

If anyone is looking for other ways to support the Israeli economy, Friends of Israel has a list of businesses you may consider shopping from.

Prime Sense Helping Machines See In 3-D

An Israeli start up company called Prime Sense has raised $9 million in order to help fund its research in enabling computers to view the world in three dimensions.

(Globes Online) Prime Sense aims to revolutionize how we relate to electronic devices. The company's concept rests on a device that enables a computer to perceive the world in 3D in the way people do. [...]

Prime Sense's device includes a sensor, which sees a user, and a digital component, or artificial intelligence, which learns and understands user movement within those surroundings. The interactive device can see, track and react to user movements outside the computer, all without change of environment or wearable equipment for the end user. The closed device is plug and play and platform independent. The company says the device is a plug and play system that requires no peripherals.

Prime Sense has received major funding from companies like Genesis Partners and Gemini Israel Funds.

Their aim is to revolutionize the gaming industry via 3-D, although if they begin to create games where users begin to feel like they are inside The Matrix, then I'll start to worry about video games destroying the youth of the world.

You can check out their site over here.

Shekel Improves After US Freezes Interest Rate

It looks like America's attempt at rebalancing its own economy is helping their Israeli friends.

(Israel National News) The shekel strengthened following the American Federal Reserve Bank decision Tuesday to keep the interest rate at 5.25 percent, a move that makes the shekel more attractive to investors. The rate in Israel is 5.5 percent.

Not a major item, but this news should help out their economy a bit.

Real Estate Market Holding Strong

Despite the war raging in the north, Israel's real estate market (in areas not directly affected by Hezbollah's rockets) remain not only strong, but unaffected by the current conflict.

(Globes Online) Apartment price list editor Levy Yitzhak claims a survey he conducted reveals that the real estate market in areas not located near the conflict region have remained virtually unaffected by the fighting. "The range of properties for sale or advertised in most cities was similar to that in the weeks prior to the outbreak of hostilities in the north" he says. [...]

"So far, there have been no cancellations in the central region of deals in the pipeline," says Yitzhak. "Moreover, even foreign investors with six-figure investments have not suspended their plans. While it would be fair to say that none of the pending deals are in the north but rather, in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Herzilya Pituah or Caesarea, no one has backed out of any deal."

Yitzhak surveyed 500 participants in order to find out the wars affect on places not directly affected by the conflict. Ironically, in some regions, not only did he find things relatively unchanged, but an increased demand (for one or two room apartments in Tel Aviv, for example).

The strong demand seems to be coming from mostly foreigners and investors, which will hopefully translate into mass tourism during this upcoming holiday season.

Shalom! (I Have Returned)

Sorry for the sudden drop in postings. I have been working on several other weblogs, getting them up to date and speed.

I've installed a new email subscription service, which should make it easier for a user to stay updated if they are not into RSS feeds.

Well, that is it for now. Now for some good news about Israel. :)

Update: Fixed title head.