1. The interest rate. Meir Sokoler's courage held out for only one shot. Last month he announced an ongoing process to cut interest rates (by 0.2 percent), but yesterday he decided to freeze the trend.
His reasons for holding back on a further cut are unimpressive. Current inflation is skirting zero and CPI forecasts are low. The state budget may not have been passed yet, but as a result, government spending - which meanwhile must follow last year's spending plans - is being reined in, without additions.
Likewise, we shouldn't be excited over the shrinking interest rate differential with the U.S. (now down to only 1 percentage point). We have already outgrown that notion and learned that the gap could be even lower without endangering stability.
Sokoler says that the current interest rate of 3.5 percent "supports real economic recovery in the long-term," but I suppose that 3.3 percent would do the job even better, and every little boost to activity and employment is particularly critical now.
2. Daylight saving time. Last week the Knesset Interior Committee decided that daylight saving time would operate for only a short period each year. The Manufacturers Association promptly checked out the damage caused by the move, and found that having DST for nine months, instead of the six proposed by the committee, would save millions of shekels.
Every day of daylight saving saves 0.4 percent in consumption of lighting and air conditioning. DST also boosts output and productivity. Even more importantly, it has a social benefit: The number of traffic accidents drops, and the well-being of society rises.
I have criticized Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz for adopting the panel's "compromise" before. Pines-Paz caved in to the pressure of the religious and the ultra-Orthodox who wanted to end DST before Yom Kippur. They claim that their aim is to make it easier for those fasting, to save them - and even this is doubtful - one waking hour in the morning of the fast day. That would be the most expensive hour in the economy. It will cost the Israeli people about 40 days (on average) of lost DST. And what about the Jews of Paris and New York, who always fast during daylight saving time?
As a result of the capitulation, DST will end every year on the Saturday night before Yom Kippur. This will sometimes fall in September (even as early as September 7) and sometimes at the beginning of October, when Europe and the U.S. always end their DST at the end of October.
Pines-Paz is not solely to blame. This shameful surrender - why couch it as a "compromise"? - was led by no other than MK Haim Oron (Yahad). He gave the seal of approval to the religious, regardless of the harm for the working citizen.
From now on, in September or October, when the heat's still on and the days are long, and we move to winter time, we'll think of that man who represents himself as the defender of the worker - the one behind the cave-in that will impact every worker as he rises in the hot full sunlight, and returns home from work in the dark so he can't play with his children in the daylight. Maybe we should name it Oron Time.
The bill comes up for its second and third reading soon. It's not too late for Oron and Pines-Paz to put things right.
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