The Political Economy of Israel: From Ideology to Stagnation

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Overview

This book constitutes the first attempt at a comprehensive description, history, and analysis of Israel's economy. Plessner examines events of the past two decades and advances the hypothesis that problems within the Israeli economy can be explained by the extent of its departure from the institutions and rules that govern predominantly market economies. He argues that Israel is unusual in that it affords an opportunity to analyze a socialized ecomony embedded in a democratic society. The book describes Israel's economic growth and stagnation, the government's domination of capital and credit markets, and the absence of a truly independent private sector. In addition, it evaluates the stabilization program of the 1980s and its aftermath and provides a prognosis for the future.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The book tells an interesting story about the workings of the Israeli economy. The author presents and interprets a rich array of historical material. At the same time, he shows a solid knowledge of economic theory as well as economic practice. Unlike other books about Israel, this volume captures the interplay between social, economic, and historical factors that permit one to have a broad understanding of Israel’s economy.” — Robert Lerman, The American University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791417416
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/1993
  • Series: SUNY series in Israeli Studies Series
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Yakir Plessner is Senior Lecturer in Economics at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Fellow at The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He was formerly Deputy Governor of the Bank of Israel and economic advisor to the Minister of Finance.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction 1
1 The Roar That Became a Whisper 7
The Bumpy Road of Political Economy 8
Early Growth in Israel 12
Growth Does Not Mean Efficiency 23
Other Factors 28
Appendix 32
2 Obstacles to Growth: The Abducted Capital Market 37
The Absence of a Free Capital Market 37
The Basic Features of the Financial System 38
The Background 39
The Interest Rate Law 42
The Process of Domination 42
3 The Capital Market: The Origins 61
First Steps 61
The Foundation Fund Keren Hayesod 63
Land Ownership 66
The Private Sector Flourishes 70
Rhetoric vs. Facts 75
Early Statehood 77
Appendix 78
4 Obstacles to Growth: The Economic Culture 79
The Economic Culture 79
The Wedge Between Effort and Reward 80
The Government as the Economy's Creator 89
The Relief from Responsibilities 90
5 The Economic Culture: The Origins 95
The Basic Ideology 95
The Origins of the Contrived Economy 97
Farm Primacy 100
The Housing Sector 102
The Advent of Rent Control 104
Unions and Wages 107
6 Obstacles to Growth: The Would-Be Business Sector 115
The Business Sector - A Tour 115
The Wedge 127
The Moral Hazard 133
A Market in Chains 141
7 The Would-Be Private Sector: The Origins 149
Early Farming Days 149
The Ideological Background 150
The Conquest of Labor 154
The First Failures of the Histadrut Economy 157
The Class Struggle - Unions and Wages 160
The Credit Crunch 161
The Adaptation of the Private Sector 166
Early Statehood 172
Appendix 174
8 Obstacles to Growth: The Almighty Weakling 177
A Summary of Government Activities 177
The Illusion of Strong Government 183
The Emasculation of Israel's Government 186
9 The Inflationary Prescription: Institutions and Policies 193
The Cost-of-Living Allowance 193
The Impossibility of Monetary Policy 199
The Oil Crisis and the New Economic Policy 206
The 1977 Mahapach - Economic Reform 219
Appendix 224
10 Inflation! The Obstacles Gang Up 227
Phase 1: The Early Stages 228
Phase 2: 1978 232
What Caused Israel's Inflation? 234
The Cost of Inflation 245
The First Attempts to Stem Inflation 253
The Manipulation of Bank Shares 256
A New Approach to Inflation - "Dollarization" 258
The Bank Shares Debacle 261
Old Habits Die Hard 264
Appendix 267
11 Stabilization and Missed Opportunities 269
Stabilization: The Program and Its Impact 269
The Road Ahead 278
Appendix 283
Notes 285
Index 319
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