Turkey lira crashes to historic low on security, inflation

Turkish lira banknotes are seen in this photo illustration. (REUTERS File Photo)
Updated 03 January 2017
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Turkey lira crashes to historic low on security, inflation

ISTANBUL, Turkey: Turkey’s embattled currency the lira on Tuesday crashed to a new historic low against the US dollar due to higher than expected inflation figures and security worries after the Istanbul nightclub attack.
The lira was trading at 3.59 to the greenback, a loss in value of 1.38 percent on the day. Earlier it crashed through the 3.6 lira ceiling, the first time in history it has been this weak against the dollar.
The currency was battered by a surprisingly sharp uptick in December inflation which fueled expectations of rate rises in January.
Prices rose 8.5 percent in December from the same month the year earlier and also by 8.5 percent for the year as a whole. Prices rose 1.64 percent from November, much more than expected by analysts.
Meanwhile, the attack claimed by the Daesh extremist group on an Istanbul club on New Year’s night that killed 39 people also pressured the currency.
It was the latest in a string of attacks in Turkey in recent months that have battered the crucial tourism sector and harmed investment.
The lira has now lost 24 percent in value over the last six months against the dollar. Over the last two years it has now lost 53 percent in value, having traded at 2.34 to the dollar at the start of 2015.


Israel’s tech sector faces challenge from shortage of workers

Updated 16 December 2018
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Israel’s tech sector faces challenge from shortage of workers

  • The sector accounts for about 45 percent of Israel’s exports
  • Arabs account for only 3 percent of tech workers but this is expected to change soon as 18 percent of all computer science students today are Arab

TEL AVIV: Israel is struggling to recruit enough workers to its technology sector, a report showed on Sunday, creating a challenge for an industry seen as the country’s main potential driver of economic growth over the next decade.
Start-Up Nation Central, which published the report with the Israel Innovation Authority, said that while the number of high-tech workers in Israel had grown over the past five years, their percentage of the labor force remained unchanged.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that the required growth will not be possible if the country’s supply of tech workers is inadequate,” said Eugene Kandel, head of Start-Up Nation Central
“Tech companies are struggling to find tech professionals, with many already finding (them) overseas.”
The number of tech workers — who earn more than double the average wage — grew to 280,000 in 2017 from 240,000 in 2013 but represent only 8 percent of the workforce, down from nearly 10 percent in 2008.
This is surprising given that investment into high-tech has soared, with venture capital funding exceeding $5 billion in 2017 and closing in on $6.5 billion this year. The number of multinationals operating development centers in Israel jumped to nearly 350 in 2016 from around 50 in 2000.
The sector accounts for about 45 percent of Israel’s exports. But about 15,300 positions remain open.
To find workers, Israeli companies are opening development centers overseas, mainly in Ukraine but also in the United States, Russia and India. Several dozen firms have also taken advantage of a rapid process established by the government in 2018 to obtain special visas for foreign tech workers.
But in the long term more initiatives are needed to increase the pool of workers, Kandel told reporters. There is great potential among women, who represent only 23 percent of tech workers, as well the largely untapped Arab and ultra-Orthodox Jewish sectors.
Arabs account for only 3 percent of tech workers but this is expected to change soon as 18 percent of all computer science students today are Arab, similar to their share of the population.
One obstacle for their employment in high-tech is that they live far from the country’s center.
Aharon Aharon, head of the government’s Innovation Authority, said he would launch two plans in the first quarter of 2019 — one to provide incentives in building an innovation ecosystem in the periphery and another to encourage tech companies to open branches outside of the center.