The Nasdaq loves Israel
Now that the number of Israeli companies has hit 75 on the Nasdaq, Israel is the foreign country with the largest number of firms traded on that U.S. market.
In order to leverage Israel's presence on Wall Street and other U.S. financial markets, and to encourage direct investment in Israel, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) hosted a joint conference with the Nasdaq in New York last Thursday.
The goal: To expose institutional investors to investment possibilities in Israeli companies and the Tel Aviv market.
Planning for the conference started nine months ago, well before the Lebanon war. Then everything looked quite rosy for the Israeli economy and markets. But then came the 33-day conflict.
TASE CEO Ester Levanon opened the conference, attended by U.S. investors and the cream of Israeli companies and financial institutions.
After praising the Israeli economy and its companies, she said: "I personally sleep better at night since Stanley Fischer arrived at the Bank of Israel. I know he is guarding us well."
Fischer, the governor of the Bank of Israel, then spoke about the Israeli economy and the effects of the war. He may insist on speaking Hebrew in Israel, but in New York he is every bit an American, and they love listening to him. Fischer was also described as a dominant figure in the Israeli economy and one of the reasons why investors did not flee Israel when the rockets started landing.
Fischer revealed that during the early days of the war, TASE officials called him to ask whether they should stop trading for a few hours or days to prevent a crash. In spite of the opinions of others, including politicians and investors, Fischer was insistent that trading continue. Fischer and the TASE decided to continue trading - and was proven right as after initial losses, the market stabilized quickly.
He also said he used to be asked why there were so many excellent Israeli businesses around the world, but so few in Israel. He said today it is no longer true.