Thieves get sent to prison. What about investment advisers, who serve the interests of the investment banks that employ them, asked Avishay Braverman, chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, on Tuesday.

Speaking at an emergency meeting of the Small and Medium Enterprises Authority, which convened in Tel Aviv on Tuesday to discuss the financial crisis, Braverman warned against local sanguinity.

"Anybody who thinks that while the U.S. gets pneumonia and Europe gets tuberculosis, Israel won't catch anything, doesn't understand the gravity of the situation," the legislator, a professional economist, said.

Braverman predicts much economic woe in Israel, because it is part of the global economy. But he said that, together with other Knesset members, he would act to remove barriers to credit that are hampering the ability of businesses to borrow.

Daniel Matzliach, director general of the Small and Medium Enterprises Authority, said that officials at various ministries are thinking of creating an emergency fund, that would lend up to NIS 150,000 each to businesses, at low interest. The loans would be guaranteed by the state, though the degree of state backing still remains to be determined, Matzliach said.

Businesses have been complaining that nervous banks are hunkering down and won't lend, which is hurting their development, he said. The credit crunch could do worse than hurt profits: It could reduce enterprises to bankruptcy, Matzliach warned.