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In the wake of the recent large declines in the stock market and developments in the global economy, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz convened an urgent meeting in his office in Jerusalem yesterday morning. Senior officials from his ministry, the Bank of Israel and the Israel Securities Authority were invited.

Steinitz has held a number of similar meetings on the economic situation recently.

"At the moment, there is no threat that a large economic body will collapse, but we must take into account that continued declines may have an effect on companies," said one of the officials attending the meeting.

Other participants added that there had been a change in the monetary policy of various countries as a result of the slowdown in a number of leading economies, and central bankers were becoming more conservative and returning to their policies of a few months ago.

Steinitz is interested in "keeping his finger on the pulse of the Israeli economy in light of the dramatic events around the world, both in the real and foreign exchange markets," said one participant, adding that the Israeli economy continues to be in good shape.

Officials were in touch regularly with the heads of the large companies and economic institutions, said another senior official, noting that his staff regularly ran simulations of possible scenarios in both local and world markets and their implications for the stocks and bonds of large Israeli firms.