Israel headed for a recession?

May 19, 2016  

Israeli economists warn the country could be on the verge of a recession, following surprisingly slow GDP growth in the first quarter of 2016.

Despite predictions by the Finance Ministry of relatively strong 2.8% annual GDP growth, data collected by the Central Bureau of Statistics revealed that Israel’s economy expanded by a paltry 0.8% in the first quarter of 2016. Given the country’s 2.0% annual population growth rate, that amounts to a decline in per capita GDP.

This quarter’s anemic growth follows a robust 3.1% growth in GDP in the fourth quarter of 2015. The rapid decline has some experts concerned Israel could be heading for a serious economic downturn.

While consumer spending was up a whopping 4% – fueled in part by record low interest rates – Israeli businesses saw negative growth, contracting by 0.4%.

Exports were especially hard hit, suffering from a global decline in trade. Excluding the diamond and hi-tech industries, Israeli exports fell by 12.9%, while imports rose by 7.5%.

Israel may be due for a recession, following seven years of economic growth. Recessions, defined by two consecutive quarters of negative growth, tend to occur every 8 to 10 years. While Israel’s economy took a hit during the global financial crisis of 2008, the worldwide downturn did not lead to a full-blown recession in Israel.

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