Israel is likely to face a weak economy in 2009 due to worldwide worries about a financial crisis, local daily Ha'aretz on Tuesday quoted experts as saying.
"Israel hasn't yet experienced the peak of the crisis. It seems that 2009 is expected to be a cold and maybe even unpleasant year," said David Brodet, former director-general of the Finance Ministry.
Echoing Brodet's remarks, Avishai Braverman, a lawmaker and former World Bank official, said that Israel "will export less and therefore factories will start to close."
"Some workers will be fired, consumption will decrease, the quality of life will decrease," Braverman added.
As the ripples of the credit crisis has devoured Lehman Brothers, a 158-year-old Wall Street investment bank in the United States, Israeli banks and financial institutions are assessing their exposure to the financial meltdown.
However, senior analyst Terence Klingman held that the fall of the U.S. financial icon is unlikely to have a major impact on Israel's financial system.
The Jerusalem Post newspaper quoted Klingman as saying that local banks' exposure to Lehman Brothers is estimated at a few hundred million dollars, which "is not a major story when compared with other global banks."
Yet in a worrisome response to Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy, trade at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange opened with sharp drops on Tuesday, with its flagship Tel Aviv 25 Index down 2.33 percent.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday morning called on Finance Minister Roni Bar-On to hold a special cabinet meeting to discuss the ramifications of the global economic crisis on Israel.