Consumer Confidence at 10 Year High, Despite Tension With US

The recent diplomatic spat with the United States has not affected Israeli consumer confidence, which is rising rapidly.

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Malkah Fleisher, | updated: 22:08

Shopping at Azrieli Mall
Shopping at Azrieli Mall
Ori, Wikimedia Commons

A recent political scuffle with the United States has left the Israeli consumer unfazed. A recent Consumer Confidence Index survey shows public optimism for Israel's financial situation is at a 10 year high, in part thanks to the superior performance of Israel's top 25 international companies in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Compiled in March by Globes Research and PriceWaterhouseCoopers Israel, the Consumer Confidence Index rose 1.8 points to 103.3 points, 5.6 higher than February, which in turn was 3 points higher than in January. 

According to the report, Israel's recent political crisis with Washington had no negative impact on consumer confidence.

Loosening the belt
"I would call myself fiscally conservative, but have felt like I can loosen the belt a little in the last year," said Chaim Rosenthal, a manager at a clothing retailer in Rosh HaAyin. "My family spent a little extra on fun things, luxuries for the holiday this year, because we feel pretty stable in our jobs, and think the country is going in a pretty good direction."

Israel's unemployment rate dropped to 7.4% in the last quarter of 2009, according to a February report by the Central Bureau of Statistics. This, in comparison to an uncomfortable 9.7% unemployment rate reported in the United States in February, has Israelis feeling they are relatively prosperous.

Resilience in crisis
Much of Israelis' positive sentiment can be attributed to the resilience of Israel's economy in the wake of the global economic crisis.  Research by the Manufacturers Association of Israel in conjunction with professors from Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University, and Columbia University shows  that the recession barely made a dent in the assets and sales of Israel's top 25 global companies in 2008.  In fact, the number of their overseas employees increased during the period.

The companies sold approximately $40 billion in goods and services in 2008, with overseas employment rising by 36% to approximately 93,000 employees. Tidings were good in country that year as well, with unemployment plummeting to a 13 year low.

According to the survey, Israel's top 5 global companies are Israel Corporation, Elco Holdings, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Amdocs, and Ormat Industries.