Buffett Is Right Again as Israel Delivers Returns

Wednesday, 12 Jan 2011 08:34 AM

By Michael Carr

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Israel is being touted as a model of airport security, one that the Transportation Security Administration could learn from. But perhaps U.S. government economists should be scrutinizing the economic policies of Israel.

Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics started the year by announcing that preliminary estimates indicate the country's economy grew by 4.5 percent in 2010.

Exports grew and businesses increased investment in Israel. Home prices rose and the stock market did well. The government deficit came in at less than 6 percent of GDP. It was more than 10 percent in the United States and many troubled European nations have a higher deficit.

The latest reports show that Israeli inflation is in line with that seen in the United States. At only 2.4 percent, inflation isn't threatening to choke off economic growth. Unemployment is expected to remain below 6 percent.

Money Supply is contracting in Israel. The Central Bank chose to rein in growth after the global economic crisis passed. That stands out as the most striking difference between Israel and the United States.

Super investor Warren Buffett made his first investments in Israel in 2006. As recently as October 2010 he said, “We are always interested in more investments in Israel. We will be happy to acquire a large and independent company in Israel, or some small companies — what I call mergers into the existing framework and I think we will do both.”

U.S. investors can use exchange traded funds or closed-end mutual funds to invest directly in Israel.

Maybe Fed economists will notice the trends along with investors.

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