Netanyahu's Exit Sets Off Steepest Crash in Three Years

A stock market collapse of Sunday's magnitude does not happen every day. According to figures provided by Bizportal's Web site, it turns out that outgoing Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's resignation had a stronger effect than the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

In the ranking of the 21 most significant drops in the Maof blue chip index since 1992, Netanyahu's dramatic resignation announcement placed eighth. The Maof fell 5.23 percent to 666.01 points on Sunday.

The bust of 1994 was the sharpest fall since the boom of 1992. In one single day, on August 21, the Maof crashed 9.66 percent. The second greatest fall hit Tel Aviv on October 28, 1997 in the wake of a sharp drop on Wall Street. The Maof index fell 9.41 percent that day. The third most powerful drop happened on the day two reservists were lynched in Ramallah, in the early days of the second intifada. The Maof dropped 7.97 percent that day. The painful event also prompted then-prime minister Ehud Barak to use combat aircraft to bomb Nablus for the first time.

The shock after the bloody terrorist attack in Netanya's Park Hotel on the eve of Passover 2002 led to the sixth sharpest fall, 5.54 percent. A massive call-up of reservists took place after that attack, preparing the way for Operation Defensive Wall.

The assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin caused the Maof index to fall 2.75 percent on November 5, 1995. However, that year was a difficult one for the markets following the crash of 1994, and activity on the market was relatively light.

The murder by Baruch Goldstein of 29 Muslims in the Cave of the Patriarch sent the stock market reeling 2.23 percent on February 28, 1994.

The departure of a finance minister does not necessarily cause the stock market to panic. When Avraham "Beiga" Shochat bowed out of the job, the stock market even gained, and when Sharon transfered Silvan Shalom from the Finance Ministry to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the stock market leapt 4.37 percent, on April 27, 2003.

There also been times when the announcement of the departure of a finance minister has been met with indifference. When Meir Sheetrit bid good-bye to the treasury, the Maof slipped a mere 0.36 percent.