Israel is a triumph of neoliberalism

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt:

From about 1973 to 1985, Israel had very high rates of inflation at one point reaching over 400%. That was the result of excessively loose monetary policy. Over time, printing money at such a clip took in successively less government revenue, as Israelis adjusted to the inflation and worked around it by holding less cash and denominating their contracts in foreign currencies. The inflation stopped giving macroeconomic benefits, even for government revenue, and Israel moved toward a regime of lower inflation and fiscal strength, to the benefit of the country’s longer-term growth.

This is a classic episode of MMT — “Modern Monetary Theory” — getting it wrong, as argued by Assaf Razin in his recent study of Israeli macroeconomic history. Under MMT, monetary policy can cover government spending, and fiscal policy can regulate price levels. Israel wisely followed more mainstream approaches.

And:

Even many of the microeconomic developments in Israel fit standard models. As you might expect, given the aridity of the region, Israel has had longstanding issues with water supply. Yet today water is not a huge practical problem in Israel, though it requires constant attention. Under the Israeli water regime, which has strong governmental support, high prices and well-defined property rights encourage conservation and careful use. Remarkably, the Israeli population basically quadrupled from 1964 to 2013, but water consumption barely went up. Israel has become a world leader in dealing with water problems, and in turn the country has become an exporter of sophisticated systems for water management.

There is much more at the link, and note Israel is neo-liberal only in some ways, see this earlier link I put up (which I link to in the piece).

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Tel Aviv and Adelaide in South Australia have basically identical rainfall and identical per capita water consumption. But we use less desalinated water because we have a much larger catchment area per person. We wouldn't use any desalination at all if there was a free market for withdrawals from the Murry river as the city dwellers would outbid the irrigators.

"the result of excessively loose monetary policy."

Did you somehow overlook the multiple national crises Israel experienced during this time period that "may" have accounted for inflation too?

Yes because they don't matter.

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"One of the most controversial issues in current Israeli politics is the large number of religious Israelis who are paid to study the Torah and receive military exemptions for their study. "
That looks like a form of UBI or MMT style jobs guarantee. If the economy is a triumph as you state then this looks promising.

Excellent comment.

if it is a triumph in Israel why is it so controversial?
Current US Labor Force Participation Rate is 62.80% and for young men
it is decreasing
By comparison, in Israel for non-Haredi Jewish men, the rate is 87.6%.!

People who work for a living and throw themselves into harm's way for their country will feel some resentment towards those who don't, especially if those who don't act preachy and sanctimonious while sponging off taxpayer shekels.

that makes sense!
bet narrative public radio/nyt would probably claim it was
unconscious bias

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Israelis see high cost water as a good thing! It means lots more jobs!

Remember, costs are never caused by high and rising profits.

Contrary to the sloganeering of free lunch economists who have been given so much influence by Reagan and the GOP....

WTF strawman are you babbling about?

"Israelis see high cost water as a good thing! It means lots more jobs!"

No it doesn't. It means whatever is not wasted.

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The 62% number is for all adults. US labor force participation for men 25-54 is around 90%: https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2018/labor-force-participation-rate-at-62-7-percent-in-september-2018-little-changed-over-last-5-years.htm

looks like the high 88% rate for u.s. is mostly due to the great toxic masculine whiteness and then it drops off.
wasn't lfp rate 15-20 years ago in the 70-73%
aren't ubi &mmt less viable with lower lfp?

Zardoz - "... the gun is good. The penis is evil - it shoots seeds that pollute the earth ..."

https://youtu.be/WW7umaYXY_s

you have penetrated me there is no escape
you are within me come into my centre..
.come into the centre of the crystal.

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Per Trading Economics, the employment-to-population ratio in Israel is about 0.615. I think Trading Economics makes use of the estimate of those past their 15th birthday employed, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses the 16th birthday, so you fudge it a bit upward to calculate a comparable statistic to the BLS data. I believe at this time that the share of the non-institutional population over 16 employed in the U.S. is 0.61, so Israel is doing slightly better.

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Are you certain that it's The Torah that they spend their time on? I understood that it's often The Talmud that garners attention, but I'm happy to be corrected by anyone familiar with the facts.

"The Torah" is a catch-all for the Old Testament (written law) and the Talmud (oral law).

The so-called Talmud is a farce.

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No, technically the Torah is only one (though the most important) of the three part of what the Christians call "Old Testament", and that Jews call the "Tanakh" (in Hebrew) or the "bible" (in English). The English (that is, Greek) name for the Torah is "Pentateuch".
The Talmud ("oral law", because at first it was not written) is a set of various commentaries of the Tanakh.

So Dearieme is right, and the Orthodox Jews study the Torah, the rest of the Tanakh, the Talmud, and more recent commentaries of both the Tanakh and the Talmud.

Dearieme is right

You are all right (except Benjamin Taylor who is either an anti-Semite or doing a good impression of one). This is just a discussion of semantics.

The word Torah is ambiguous. In the narrow definition it is the Pentateuch, the first five books of the bible. It is the T in the acronym Tanakh. But Torah is also used to refer to any study of Jewish laws/philosophy/etc.

When someone says that they are learning Torah, they could mean any Jewish study. Most often, in the population that Tyler is referring to, it means Talmud. If someone specifically wants to refer to the Pentateuch, they will often call it Chumash. (But if they say that a particular rule is written explicitly in the Torah, it usually means the Pentateuch.) All semantics and a bit inside baseball.

"except Benjamin Taylor who is either an anti-Semite or doing a good impression of one".

No I am not, but I oppose Zionist totalitarianism.

Actually, most of the time is spent on the Gemarah. Regarding who is paying them, it is the State of Israel. Divinity students are subsidized in all the countries, as are all university students in Europe and elsewhere (in America, poor students survive from scholarships and part-time work). Moreover, yeshive students are married and have children, and therefore entitled to State assistance. Materially it is a hard life, but intellectually satisfying.

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I feel like cowen is playing tricks with the label neoliberalism. Israel is a marvelously successful nation and economy and society that is also profoundly illiberal. Cowen praises the high level of immigrants accepted into Israeli, but they are mostly only Jewish, white ashkenazi Jewish immigrants. Israel has a militarized border and fiercely rejects the vast number of Africans who try to enter. What makes immigration so controversial in the us and Europe is that the host nation's are really expected to shrink it forfeit their identities and cultures. I know that wasn't the main focus of cowen's op Ed but this still strikes me as a trick to brand Israel as a neoliberal state rather than a fully modern successful ethno nationalist state.

Don't worry, Tyler clearly anticipated your concerns in the very last line:

"note Israel is neo-liberal only in some ways"

The link Tyler gave is a piece he posted before about the illiberalism of Israel and yes, the far-right embrace of ethnonationalism is addressed there too.

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that is also profoundly illiberal.

Only according to the addled standards of the Mercatus Center, or the broad who posts here under the pseudonym 'Hazel Meade'. 'Liberal' refers to the features of the regime, not whether the regime seeks to incorporate foreigners. One is not a strict parent because one limits one's care and government to one's natural children and declines to take foster children. One is a strict parent because of the rules of the household and the regularity of their enforcement.

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The tragedy is there is still so much (neoliberal) low hanging fruit in Israel :(

I dream of the day when the Israeli government has better state capacity.

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Israel has an economy based on tech. One half is the private sector which makes everything from semiconductors to cybersecurity to cloud computing which they can sell to big tech companies in the US. The other half is the military-industrial complex which makes full use of conscription to specialize in all kinds of military/surveillance gear (still #1 in drones and with unit 8200 #1 in signals surveillance) and services (like Black Cube and other private clandestine services) which is also sold all around the world from the US, UK, the Gulf States, to India and China.

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Foreign aid works? https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf A few facts:

1) From the creation of Israel to 2018, the US has provided them 134.7 billion USD. 34 billion in economic aid (development aid) and the rest in military aid (~100 billion).

2) Israel can spend up to 26.3% of US military aid budget on Israeli-manufactured equipment (off-shore procurement). Basically, Israel arms manufacturing companies have received 26 billion USD of subsidies.

For such small population, subsidies are significant. So, what happened to the "trade not aid" of Peter Bauer and Milton Friedman?
Indeed, Mr. Friedman has a different assessment of Israel's economy:

"The US today (1994) is more than half socialist as judged by (a) government spending as a fraction of national income plus (b) government regulations and controls over private spending. Israel is perhaps 70 or 80 percent socialist in that sense."

As Tyler says, read the whole thing: https://www.jewishpress.com/sections/features/features-on-jewish-world/milton-friedman-israel-and-the-socialist-jewish-paradox/2016/05/05/

Exactly. Zionism is a scam.

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True Israel is the beneficiary of generous help from the US. However aid will not contribute to the kind of development we witness in Israel unless the resources are used efficiently. Perhaps a combination plenty of aid and well endowed human capital explains the relative success of the Israeli economy

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Israel received bupkis prior to 1973. The foreign aid was coincident with efforts to induce settlements between Israel and it's neighbors, and was contextually most significant ca. 1984. It's declined without interruption for 30-odd years and now accounts for about 1.2% of their gross national income. It's entirely in the form of credits to buy military equipment from American manufacturers. Non-military aid was discontinued a generation ago.

Mr. Taylor's actual objection is that the Jews aren't dead.

+1

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Diamond cutting. That is the largest sector in Israel. It's the Jews' ancient craft, and Israel is the leader in the industry. Israel's great advantage is its people, Jews, who come from all over the world to be in their ancient land, Jews with many talents to contribute to Israel and their people, from diamond cutting to technology to economics (including Mr. Fischer). It's an incredible achievement for a country founded in 1948, but it has that go back to the beginning of civilization. Not mentioned by Cowen, but Jews have the advantage of thrift, essential for a people living in a harsh climate (hot and arid) and with many enemies - one must be prepared. Also, it helps that Jews around the world donate billions to Israel.

"who come from all over the world to be in their ancient land": the trouble is that it's also the ancient land of the Palestinians.

Maybe they could fight over it, then. Oh wait, they did.

Rhe Poles fought over theirs. It didn't help.

That's how it be sometimes.

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it's also the ancient land of the Palestinians.

Thanks for the anachronism. It's been an education.

The notion of a 'Palestinian' people wasn't prevalent among the population in question until about 50 years ago. Mandatory Palestine was an assemblage of three Ottoman subprefectures to which some boundary adjustments were made. The subprefectures themselves weren't antique. They derived from adjustments in Ottoman provincial boundaries made about 50 years earlier.

In the area, you had loyalties to various lineages, loyalties to localities, loyalties to confession, a self-understanding as Syrians, and, late in the day, a self-understanding as Arabs. However, the use of the term 'Palestine' prior to 1949 was characteristic of the Jewish population, not the Arab population. The Jewish Agency for Palestine. The Palestine Post, &c.

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"it's also the ancient land of the Palestinians". But less ancient for Arabs Palestinians. And Israel is not only the ancient land of the Jews, but their recent land too. So whatever your criterion to determine whom a land belongs to, it will have to be pretty ad hoc to justify that Palestine belongs only to Arab Palestinians.

The best solution is of course to share Palestine in two separate states, one for the Jewish Palestinians and one for the Arab Palestinians and -- actually three, since one should not forget that Jordan was. part of the Roman province of Palestine and of the English mandate of Palestine after 1920. Later, much later probably, then, these two (or three, or more) states could perhaps unify in the way the states in Europe did to form UE.

"But less ancient for Arabs Palestinians": that seems unlikely. Do you have any evidence? Or do you define "Arabs Palestinians" so that the statement is a tautology?

Huh? This is an historical fact, as well established as the existence of Julius Caesar or Georges Washington, and it is not a tautology, since it is contingent. Let me develop.

1) The fact that there was a Jewish presence and, at times, one or two Jewish kingdom(s) in Palestine (by with I mean, like the Romans and the British, the territory of modern Israel, West Bank, and Western Jordan -- East Bank of the Jordan river) since around the 10th century B.C. is well attested by written documents from Egyptian, Babylonian, Phoenicians, Assyrian, Persian, Greek and Roman sources.

Before that, our only source is the Bible, and for that early period, it is of very small or zero historical value, because its narrative (even with the miracles removed) is not confirmed by any written, archeological, or linguistic evidence. So we don't know when the ancestors in the Hebrews came to Palestine. Any date between -1000 and -40000 is possible, and the indirect evidence we have (from linguistic mostly) is not enough to conclude.

2) I define "Palestinian" as someone who lives in Palestine. For "Arab" it is
a little more difficult, as each time one tries to define a nation that does not correspond to one state (like defining a German or an Italian before the unifications of their countries, a Kurd or an Armenian now). I hope you don't object if I use "Arab" in our context as someone who speaks Arabic and feel he/she is an Arab.

In this sense, there was no significant Arabic present in Palestine before the Arabic conquest in the 7th center A.D.

3) the logical conclusion of 1) and 2) is that the Hebrew Jewish presence in Palestine is more ancient than the Arab presence, by at least 17 centuries.

What point(s) do you disagree with?

It's a bit rhetorically tricky (putting it mildly) to say that the *ancestors* of the Hebrews give them prior claim, then switch to Palestinians having a later claim because the Arabic language and cultural practices only came in 700 AD.

If you go consistently with ancestry, then the Palestinians have a stronger claim than the Jewish diaspora, and if you go with the first political entity that has some continuity today, then you could probably give it to the Assyrian diaspora or Egypt (at least to Egyptian copts).

It's certainly difficult to see why a short lived kingdom of 300 years span (the Kingdom of Israel), beginning 3000 years ago, religious should particularly get a lot of priority. Or what either is arguably or arguably not the closest descendant of the the religious practices for about 700 years starting 2500 years ago.

Jews have been a continuous presence in the area since the end of the Babylonian captivity. And yes, Jews do have a common descent, though the Ashkenazi population appears to have descended from a medieval demographic bottleneck.

Probably, and a bunch of (are largely of) non-common descent too.

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Again, see the view of Feisal, the son of the Sherif of Mecca and later King of Iraq. He regarded the population of the Transjordan as 'Arab' and that between the Jordan and the sea 'Arabic=speaking'. Or, see the foundation of the Syrian Popular Party in 1932, for an example of a corps promoting a territorial identity contra Arab nationalism or parochial identities. 'Palestinian' wasn't an organizing basis back then.

Indeed it may be so, just as "Israeli" was no motivating principle for the Jews of Palestine. But what of it in this context?

Indeed it may be so, just as "Israeli" was no motivating principle for the Jews of Palestine.

Building a Jewish community was the whole point. That they picked the name 'Israel' over 'Judah' in 1948 as a name for it is immaterial.

What you keep missing is that there was no 'Palestinian' population distinct from the 'Syrian' population or the 'Arab' population. There were just people with several complimentary or competing loyalties, and quite a few of them were migrants from other Ottoman provinces. Your most prominent 'Palestinians' in the west included Yasir Arafat (who spent the bulk of his upbringing in Egypt) and Edward Said (who spent all of it in Egypt; Said's family had lived through the seizure of their businesses and real property - by Gamal Abdel Nasser's regime, not by Ben-Gurion's). Given that there are about 20 other Arab states and that Levantine Arabs form a comfortable majority in two states and about 1/2 the population of a third, what's this about? Well, we're told the 'Palestinian people', who didn't exist as such 60 years ago (and lack the competence to set realistic goals and actually build institutions on the property they have).

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"only 3 centuries of jewish kingdom" is a weak argument. The presence of large population of Jews or their ancestors in Palestine lated at least one millenium, probably much more. And there never was in History, not even for one year, an Arab kingdom of Palestine. When it was populated in majority by Arabs, Palestine was always part of a large entity governed from abroad: first the Arab Califat of Damas, then of Bagdad, then a Turk domination, interrupted by some Christian crusaders, and then the English mandate.

Also, the continuity between the Jews of Palestine before the Roman expulsion and the modern view is not only religious. It is cultural. Jews
during the 2000 years of diaspora, as a people, never lose the sense they were one people (the contacts between Ashkenazi and Sefardi were permanent), nor they lose the memory of their place of origin, their language, their writing system, their child stories and their myths, etc.
For instance, in countries where the literacy rate was very low, almost
always learnt how to write, read, and to a lesser extent, speak Hebrew.
(And for this reason, though they often used the local language to speak, they used the Hebrew writing system to write it, as in Yiddish or Judeo-Spanish.)

As Caning says, for a long time there was no notion of an Arab-Palestinian
body as a distinct part of the larger Arab world. This notion appeared, slowly, as a reaction against Zionism, after WWI. And the fact is that from all the territories from Morocco to Iraq who gained independence in the 20th century, more than 99.7% of the surface was given to Arab states, and less than 0.3% for Israel. That's more than other people got, such as the Kurds, who got nothing, but that was much less than the proportion of the population of this vast area (13 million square kilometers)
that was Jewish (around 4%).

Note that I am not saying that Jews have more claims than Palestinian Arabs on Palestine. I have just stated that facts, not my criterion to determine who gets a better claim (I don't have one). I am just concluding from the historical facts that people who say that Arabs have a better claim should state their criterion, and that we can guess it would be pretty complicated and ad hoc, because on the obvious criteria (most recent presence, most ancient presence, territory received vs population, length of a self-governed state, etc.) the Arab Palestinian claim is weaker.

Now of course the best thing would be to stop discussing about claims, and adopt a pragmatic solution : first, end of the war between Israel and Palestinians or other Arab states.then Israel could leave the territories conquered during that war, and there would be one independent state of Israel within its frontiers of 1948, and two dozen Arab states including one on the West Bank and Gaza.

The presence of large population of Jews or their ancestors is in the main less that that of Palestinian "Arabs", for most values of Jews both in Israel and elsewhere. For ancestors, unless we are one of these strange folk who disregard genetics to imagine that Palestinian "Arabs" are largely of peninsular ethnic origin rather than languages switchers, most of whose ancestors were long present on the land. For "Jews" because the Jews are hardly closer or any more continuous to the peoples of Palestine in the ancient period in their beliefs, practices, language, any of it.

Yes, indeed, all previous conceptions by the "Arabs" of Palestine were of being members of a larger and more encompassing state, and never a fraction of separatist state of Palestine, up until the point at which there was a determined attempt to dispossess them and to draw boundaries of those other states that excluded them. Rather natural I think. I don't think anyone who complains about this would really be happier if they were Ottoman restorationists who equally implacably opposed to Zionism.

I guess the point I am making is to highlight, for the casual reader in plain terms, the thousands of year remoteness and the short span of the kingdom of Israel that all this is seen as a restoration of. Not some real political entity that was either long lasting or relatively recent at all, not anything a secular person would, I'd think, with a straight face, believe constituted any sort of strengthening of a claim at all.

Surface area is a strange criterion for apportioning land when so much of that land was empty desert! Even accepting that different parts of land should be portioned up for Jews / others, and endorsing that the Jews expelled from Muslim states (which is the natural consequence and corollary of establishing a Jewish state of course; some mixed land can hardly be expected to be converted into "Jewish land" without Jews being dispossessed from land that must become "Muslim land" in the balance. Otherwise would just be for some, the Jews,to get something and others to lose - no balance.).

It also seems odd for you to say "I am not saying that Jews have more claims than Palestinian Arabs on Palestine... I don't have a (criterion on who has a better claim" than "the Arab Palestinian claim is weaker".

Pragmatism to not further dispossess people I can understand. Claims that Israel has a uniquely strong case to continuity of nation and state (rather than an almost uniquely weak case), and deserves a unique degree of latitude in preserving a national majority state are harder to swallow.

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You know Israel practices discrimination against Palestinian water use in occupied territory, right?

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-11101797

"But the Palestinians say they are prevented from using their own water resources by a belligerent military power, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to buy water from their occupiers at inflated prices.

Moreover, Israel allocates to its citizens, including those living in settlements in the West Bank deemed illegal under international law, between three and five times more water than the Palestinians.

This, Palestinians say, is crippling to their agricultural economy.

With water consumption outstripping supply in both Israel and the Palestinian territories, Palestinians say they are always the first community to be rationed as reserves run dry, with the health problems that entails."

Neoliberalism is about limiting the role od the state in the economy. It does not take a stand on one group exploiting another

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"But the Palestinians say

Pretty amusing you find that probative. Israel's detractors make self-indicting remarks the way normal people breathe.

No idea which sources you regard as probative but here's Amnesty International:
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2017/11/the-occupation-of-water/

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Foreign aid & thrift can't explain why the Israeli economy was a disaster before market-oriented policies were adopted. An inflection point in a time series can't be explained by a constant.

Indeed. We are discussing because Tyler was not specific enough. In his column he does no specifies what neoliberalism means:

a) something that already happened as in "this country is an example of neoliberal when compared to others, e.g. small government spending to GDP ratio",

b) as steering to neoliberalism from a strong collectivist/paternalist past as in "they implemented neoliberal policies but government is still large, still can't be described as neoliberal".

I think Israel is case b.

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Is Tyler underplaying the weakness in Israel's economy pointed out in this article?

https://m.jpost.com/Israels-70th-anniversary/Israel-at-70-Looking-ahead-at-the-next-chapter-in-Israels-history-551278

@Ramagopal - there was nothing in that article to support your thesis...just some young people promoting their concerns about Israel going forward.

Bonus trivia: Israel built America's interstate highway system. That's why there's a sign to the former Israeli PM: "Begin Highway" still found in many entrance ramps to US interstates...

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There is no water scarcity in Israel. We have five large desalination plants that supply most of our drinking water. We also supply Gaza, the West Bank Palestinians, and even Amman depends for much of its water from the Israeli system. Shimon Peres's peace dream was to supply water to the parched neighboring countries, we are ready but they pathologically hostile to us. Pity.

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"the large number of religious Israelis who are paid to study the Torah". Is that true? Who pay them? I know that they are exempted of military service, and that this is very controversial, and might end soon, but about payment I didn't know.

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This is Tyler's personal front-lashing against Yoram Hazony's conference in July.

Israel is actually a triumph of nationalism.

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Tyler,

It looks to me that Razzin is incorrect in claiming that the inflationary policy of the mid 1970s to mid-1980s followed MMT doctrine. They make a big fuss about not borrowing in foreign currencies and recognize that their policy prescriptions may not hold well for small open economies, which Israel's certainly was and is. And indeed there was massive borrowing throughout the whole economy in dollars as described in the article, although I am not sure about specifically government borrowing. But calling the policy then an MMT one looks incorrect.

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Hey TC, how does being a multi-billion dollar defense welfare baby of the US, while somehow affording universal healthcare pass as neoliberal?

Isn’t that a triumph of a socialist or client state (and who’s the client in this case)?

Or is it a function of a powerful lobbying group that should be a registered foreign agent? Or a country that plays as a never ending identity politics victim whenever someone questions its policies such as its unmitigated Lebensraum?

What are your thoughts or the IDW warriors on Israel govt. funded hasbara or influencing US politics and policies through free speech suppressing, anti-BDS measures?

The way the US Congress gave a standing ovation for Netanyahu a few years ago makes you think that Congress is the North Korean parliament whereas in this case the first one that stops clapping gets killed politically.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESPRVsGY2dw

What has Israel done for the US? Ever fight with any Americans? Ever let its bases or ports be used for US in any stupid Middle Eastern adventure? How many times have Americans died for Israelis? How much goodwill and soft power has the US squandered for such a one sided relationship?

Triump of neoliberalism my arse.

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