Businesses urge Bank of Israel to buy corporate bonds, stocks

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - The Israeli Association of Public Traded Companies called on the central bank to be the “responsible adult” and starting buying corporate bonds and shares to alleviate a liquidity crisis stemming from the coronavirus outbreak.

Ilan Flato, chief executive of the organization, said this is one of the worst crises ever in the global economy and Israel’s government is not doing enough to steady capital markets and address liquidity problems. This could lead to the collapse of dozens or hundreds of companies, he said.

“The Bank of Israel must be the responsible adult and start intervening in the corporate bond and stock markets,” said Flato, whose organization represents hundreds of public firms in Israel.

“The Bank of Israel buys foreign stocks and bonds every month and it’s time to step in ... and also support purchases in the local market,” he added.

The central bank declined to say whether it would start buying corporate bonds or shares but said it “has taken and will continue to use its policy tools to further support the Israeli economy at this time”.

Earlier this week the central bank began buying government bonds and added liquidity in the foreign exchange market through dollar-shekel swap transactions.

Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Tova Cohen