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Standard & Poor’s gives Israel its highest-ever rating

  • TOIIsraelRating
Global ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has upgraded its credit rating for Israel, citing the Jewish state’s steady economic growth, and improved debt outlook.
by TIMES OF ISRAEL | Aug 10, 2018

With the raising of its credit score from A+ to AA- with a stable outlook, Israel notched its highest ever rating from S&P and other international credit rating firms.

In announcing its decision, S&P cited Israel’s stable growth and improved fiscal position in light of the sharp reduction in net government debt.

In spite of Israel’s fractious politics, S&P pointed to the passage of the 2019 Budget as a sign of fiscal discipline.

“Although public debt remains relatively high, we now think that fiscal slippages leading to a significant reversal of the debt path are unlikely,” S&P said. “This is based on our belief that, absent global trade shocks, Israel’s economic growth outlook will remain solid and allow the government to accommodate pressures coming from social and infrastructure spending, as well as a potential moderate escalation of security risks.”

“Israel has demonstrated sound economic performance since the global financial crisis, with a current GDP of about $140 billion (R1.8 trillion), 50% larger than in 2010, the current account is in a sustainable surplus, and unemployment at historical lows,” it said.

The ratings agency also predicted growth of 3.3% a year from 2018 to 2021, which it said would be fuelled by private consumption, corporate investment, and exporting of services.

While noting that Israel has a “prosperous, modern, and diversified economy” with high growth rates, S&P said “high exposure to external and domestic security risks weigh on the country’s creditworthiness”.

The improved credit score from S&P came after Moody’s raised its rating outlook for Israel last month.

“In the past three years, the Israeli economy has soared to the best macro data in its history. The confidence expressed in us by the strongest economic bodies in the world enables us to continue to grow the economy,” said Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon after S&P announced the move.

Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug praised S&P for upgrading Israel to AA-, crediting the country’s steady economic growth in recent years to sound fiscal policy.

“The decision reflects the confidence of international institutions in the policies of the government, and the monetary policies of the Bank of Israel that have contributed to the growth of the economy and the ability of the government to meet its future commitments,” she said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also praised the upgraded Israeli ranking, saying in a Saturday Facebook post that it “reflected of the strength of the Israeli economy as well as the correct and responsible economic policy that we are leading on behalf of all Israeli citizens”.

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