Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI) chairman Yair Seroussi was asked this morning by “IDF Radio" (Galei Zahal) how he summed up 2013. He said, "Overall it was a good year in Israel and the world in terms of economics and better than the forecasts. The world began seeing light at the end of the tunnel that it entered in 2008. The world is seeing growth. Capital markets worldwide are rising and the outstanding development in Israel's capital market is an increase in activities - public offerings and trading turnovers. There is a feeling of recovery.
Didn't we see an economic slowdown in Israel towards the end of the year?
"We don't yet see it in the numbers but there is a fall in the rate of growth even though Israel's economy is still growing. The weak point is in Israeli exports, industry and real investments in the private sector are still growing. It is very important to let the business sector develop and create an economy of possibilities.
Is the government doing its job in housing, health and education?
"We have certainly seen a change for the better in recent years especially in education. In my opinion public housing is the topic that will come onto the agenda in 2014. Housing is a complicated subject and there are no magic solutions. I see less readiness at the moment to confront this issue."
Home prices don't scare you today as a banker. There's no bubble?
"Prices in Israel have skyrocketed to levels that the public find it difficult to buy a home. I think that in Israel demand comes after construction. There is no speculative building as there was in the US. We must remember that with low interest in Israel and worldwide people have no place to invest and value assets like apartments and shares are rising."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 26, 2013
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