The unveiling of TheMarker Magazine's 100 most influential people in Israel took place yesterday in Haifa, in an effort to support businesses in the north. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was in attendance.
The list reflects a number of dramatic events and interesting processes that have occurred over the last year:
1The second Lebanon war caused major changes. It returned security and defense issues to center stage, and also returned both the deficit and cuts in welfare allowances to the economic debate.
Commenting on the death of the social-welfare agenda, Yossi Sarid wrote in TheMarker Magazine: "In March they promised us a new national agenda - no longer security, and only security - and in September, the social banner is like a rag at half-mast. During the days of thunder, poverty must be silent; and education, health and welfare have to wait. This is not the time for them." There is no doubt that the major changes in the 2007 budget will echo through the Israeli business world for a very long time. As of now, the big winners from the situation are the senior Finance Ministry officials, since their importance, as professionals trying to rein in the Defense Ministry's budgetary appetite, is on the rise.
2The big bang generated by the Bachar Committee on capital market reform is still being felt. The owners of private investment houses have seen their businesses and the amounts of money they manage grow by hundreds of percent - at the very least - over the last year, and have entered the list for the first time. The banks have not been particularly weakened, but other, new players are amassing assets of a size previously seen only in the banks and insurance companies. And the biggest beneficiaries are the customers, enjoying professional management of their money.
3With regard to the relationship between money and government, the rising power of the oligarchs and the current government's weakness, coupled with the problematic behavior of some senior officials, have created fertile ground for problematic connections between power and government. That is why the state comptroller and regulators are so important: Their agenda really is the public welfare, rather than political survival or their own pockets. The number of affairs that have erupted on the Israeli scene lately reminds us of the level of corruption in a banana republic.
4The rise of the Internet, especially in advertising, and the importance of the Internet as a basic building block of 21st-century life are worth noting. That is why, for the first time, our list includes members of the media's young guard. The list always looks forward, so we are taking a risk and trying to relate to what may occur in the future.
5Finally, there is the change in government. It is hard to believe; it seems like they were always there. The war must distort time. But the change in government happened only a short while ago, and it has added many new faces to our list: a new finance minister, new advisors, a young communications minister and more. The real question is whether they will still be on the list next year, and that question remains open for now: Whether or not a state commission of inquiry is established, many have doubts about whether this government will last.
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