The Bottom Line / How Much for My Expertise?

How arrogant do you have to be to become an overnight expert on the Israeli economy, ready to teach those children in the Middle East how to run their affairs?

How arrogant do you have to be to become an overnight expert on the Israeli economy, ready to teach those children in the Middle East how to run their affairs? And how innocent do you have to be to believe that we are talking about professional, honest advice, totally independent of the massive pay that the banks are paying them?

In any case, the appearance of the four "American experts" who recently descended in Israel will be remembered as the lowest and most contemptible point for "experts" who are prepared to do anything for cash recompense.

The four mercenaries are saying exactly what was asked of them: That the banks should not have to sell off their mutual and provident funds. They may be experts in American capital markets, but they don't have a clue about the Israeli scene. They have no idea how powerful the largest banks are here, about the cartel-like market, the exploitation of the little customer, the coordinated and high banking fees, the nonexistent nonbanking capital market, and the fact that foreign banks fear approaching Israel because of the two heavies' stranglehold on the market.

One of the experts, Alfred Moses, said quite blatantly: "We don't know the situation in Israel, we haven't seen the recommendations of the Bachar report, we are here to learn, to help others learn from our experience in the U.S." Is there no end to the insolence? To admit one doesn't have a clue, but to advise nevertheless?

They also have no idea on the greatest manipulation in the history of our capital markets: the great banking share scandal. They are not aware that, were it not for the intervention of the taxpayers, who put up $7 billion, all of Israel's major banks would have gone belly-up in 1983. Of course, they aren't to know that in the wake of that affair, the Bejsky committee was appointed, which recommended that the mutual and provident funds be split from the banks - although the forbidden relationship between the banks (the suppliers of credit) and our politicians, prevented the recommendations from ever coming into effect.

The "experts" also thought of informing the children, as everyone knows, that the recent trend in the U.S. is to let the banks return to the capital market. But they did not say that after the crash of October 1929, the Americans did not invite Palestinian experts but rather legislated the great Glass Steagel Act, which obliged the banks to withdraw utterly from the capital market, from managing investment portfolios, from provident funds, from mutual funds and from underwriting. As a result, the nonbanking capital market expanded terrifically to become the most efficient in the world, with giant brokerage firms. Now, some 60 years after creating the most advanced competition, it has been decided to let the banks gradually back into the market. We are also ready to wait two generations. Prof. David Levhari summed up the contemptible show the best: "If I was invited to Micronesia to give them advice, and the pay was big enough, I would be happy to go. Of course, my knowledge on the banking scene there is next to nothing, but on the long flight over I would surely learn something."