Latest Israeli statistics likely to show sluggish growth

Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics will today release the first estimate of the country’s 2020 fourth quarter (Q4) GDP growth

Photograph by Abir Sultan Pool AFP Getty

Photo: Abir Sultan/Pool/AFP/Getty

Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics will today release the first estimate of the country’s 2020 fourth quarter (Q4) GDP growth rate.

Israel’s economy grew 8.7% in Q3, a reflection of the summer loosening of lockdown restrictions. Q4 growth is projected to shrink by nearly half, to only 3.5%. This figure represents October, November and December, during which Israel exited a second national lockdown.

Expect Israel’s Q4 2020 growth estimates to be disappointing. The largely criticised second lockdown severely inhibited growth, while Israel’s effective but controversial vaccination program did not begin in earnest until December 20, too late to meaningfully affect Q4 results. Sluggish growth could not come at a worse time for Israel’s embattled prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who on February 8 pleaded not guilty in an ongoing corruption trial. Netanyahu also faces a general election on March 23. Though his Likud party appears likely to prevail, allegations of economic mismanagement will provide easy fodder for his opponents.

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