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A review of “The Israeli Path to Neoliberalism” by Assaf Zimring

Last updated on October 11, 2019

A review of my book, The Israeli Path to Neoliberalism: State, Continuity Change (Routledge, 2018) has just been published in the Israel Studies Review, written by Assaf Zimring. The review can be downloaded here. I think the review captures very nicely two core arguments of the book.

First, the argument regarding the primacy of the state preferences in economic policymaking:

The core premise of Krampf’s framework is that the economic policy of the Israeli state (and before it that of the pre-state Zionist institutions, especially the World Zionist Organization) has always put state goals and preferences first and economic ideology, at best, second. To be clear, this is not just a tautological claim that whatever the state does must reflect the state’s preferences. It is the claim that attaining national goals, be they the creation of a nation-state or achieving economic independence to gain diplomatic maneuvering space, should override lofty economic ideals.

And the second argument relates the role of policy paradigms in the economic history of Israel:

Krampf makes his framework very clear by dividing Israel’s economic history into four periods, each defined by an overarching paradigm: the agrarian paradigm (from the early 1930s to the late 1940s or early 1950s), which focused on increasing the agrarian capacity of Jewish communities in Israel; the paradigm of rapid development (between the early 1950s and the mid-1960s), which focused on absorbing a large Jewish popula-tion into the newly created state; the paradigm of economic independence (from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s), which focused on minimizing dependence of the Israeli economy on foreign economies; and the self-explanatory paradigm of neo-liberalism (from the mid-1980s to the pres-ent). The book also contains an interesting tangent about the history of the Bank of Israel and a more general treatment of the topic of central banking in late-developing countries.

Zimring, however, presents a critic of the argument in my analysis of Israel export-led growth strategy in since the 1990s. While he agrees that Israel has managed an export-led model, he argues that this model is wrong: “A larger exporting sector makes a country more integrated with the world and thus more susceptible to outside pressure.”

The question regarding the logic of Israel growth strategy, is at the core of one of my current research project.

See also the reviews by Asher Schechter and by Sai Englert.

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