Sokoler 1. If someone had told me that Meir Sokoler would lower the Bank of Israel interest rate to 3.5 percent - the lowest in the country's annals - I would laugh and not believe them.
Sokoler is the number one sentry, the principle supporter of David Klein's policy of keeping interest rates high, and if there were slight arguments between the two, Sokoler was the tougher one. So the revolution conducted by the interim governor - and the bank, in general - is truly great.
A year and a half ago, at the Caesarea conference, Sokoler said the rate could never drop below 6 percent. Back then he was laboring under the financial crisis that had broken out in June 2002 (following the dramatic 2 percent rate cut at the start of that year), and a fear of the large budget deficit of the first half of 2003, a deficit of 7 percent of gross domestic product.
At the bank, they didn't believe that faith could be restored, and they didn't imagine that Benjamin Netanyahu would cut the budget deficit so sharply. They also didn't believe that our interest rate could get so close to that of the United States. So they kept the interest rate too high. But faith quickly returned and Netanyahu took care of the budget. The result was the revolution that hit Sokoler, who cut interest rates this week, going to show that public pressure helps.
Some say the decision to cut interest came from Stanley Fischer. Sokoler admittedly consulted Fischer before the decision. However, during their conversation, Fischer stressed that he is not the governor until he is officially awarded the position by the president, and that the decision was Sokoler's, which it was.
Sokoler 2. He doesn't have much time, he's only in the post for three or four months. Straight after taking the top spot he was sucked into the industrial dispute at the central bank. So if he really wants to leave his mark, we have a suggestion.
The current exchange rate policy (the currency band) keeps the exchange rate to within a restricted band, with the bank forced to intervene if the rate rises above or falls below the edges of that band. The time is right to cancel this anachronistic policy, and it would be best to do it now when the dollar and currency basket are calm and far from the limits of the fluctuation band. It would add to the shekel's stability and faith. So Sokoler, this is your opportunity to get your name in the history books.
The Trans-Israel Highway. This week the High Court of Justice finally allowed for the toll road to continue through the Ramat Menashe region. This is the Section 18 that the greens managed to hold up for years. If the process had progressed normally, without unnecessary delays, it would have been completed already and the distance to the Galilee would have been significantly shortened.
There's no argument over preserving open green spaces, but it's actually via the Trans-Israel Highway that we can reach these areas and visit the beautiful spaces. In addition, the road holds an enormous social benefit. It brings the periphery closer to the center, in terms of employment, entertainment, welfare and society.
But these arguments fell on deaf ears when it came to the green organizations. They have held up (and still hold up) the paving of Highway 6 for many expensive years. People seem less important to them than the common wood sorrel or prickly acacia.
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