International financial services giant Citigroup has likened Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to such economic heroes as Margaret Thatcher and the late American president Ronald Reagan.
"We will soon see the name of Benjamin Netanyahu enter the pantheon, along with Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Roger Douglas," Citigroup wrote in a report circulated to its clients around the world.
The comparison refers to the monetarist policies championed by the former U.S. president, the British prime minister and the New Zealand finance minister from 1984-1988 who coined the phrase supply-side economics. All three shared a platform of cutting taxes and creating an environment to encourage investment in the economy.
Citigroup believes the positive movements in the Israeli economy, led by the finance minister, will lead to an upgrading by international credit rating agency Standard & Poor's. Some of the achievements of the minister - whom Citigroup chummily refers to as "Bibi" - include reducing corporation tax from 36 percent to 35 percent, with plans to cut it further to 30 percent by 2007, and similar tax cuts for those earning up to NIS 10,000 a month.
The report added that the Israeli government aims to keep its budget deficit down to 4 percent of gross domestic product this year, compared to 5.6 percent in 2003, which would strengthen the financial standing of the economy. Overall, Netanyahu's polices brought an economic turnaround after three years of stagnation.
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