The Wild Forex Casino

"The main problem of exporters today is the dollar's exchange rate," grouses David Arzi, Export Institute chairman. The thing is, the dollar has weakened by more in Israel than it has elsewhere, in large part because of speculators, he says. In fact, Arzi wrote to Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer, demanding that he intervene in the "Israel's wild forex market, which has turned into a casino".

Speculators are betting billions on the shekel-dollar rate, says Arzi. They're influencing the exchange rate and leaving exporters exposed to intense volatility: "Exporters can lose millions of shekels in a day," he says.

Throughout the world, speculators are becoming increasingly dominant, says Arzi, adding: "I demand that the governor find a solution. The (central bank) governors in Italy, South Korea and the Netherlands know what to do." If not for the "casino," Arzi thinks the shekel-dollar exchange rate would be NIS 4.10 and exporters could live with that.

While Israeli exporters fret over the Americans and the shekel, China continues to consume wildly. It's the fourth-largest economy in the world and one of the biggest consumers of agricultural produce. Rapid economic growth, industrialization, the booming property market and the rise of a middle class have accelerated consumption, raising with it the import of raw materials, mechanical and electrical goods, minerals, oil and fuel products, plastics and consumer goods.

Iran, Taiwan and South Korea are major exporters to China. In November, China imported $12 billion worth of goods from Japan, $10 billion from South Korea, $9.7 billion from Taiwan and - $124 million from Israel.