Credit Suisse First Boston has repeated its pessimistic outlook on Israel's economy, saying that a sovereign credit downgrade can be expected within the coming 12 months.

CSFB's analysts have claimed for some time now that Israel's credit rating is excessive, especially in light of its burgeoning public debt.

The investment bank predicts negative growth of 1.8% in 2002, by far the darkest prediction around.

Goldman Sachs predicts 0.6% negative growth. Local banks Hapoalim and Leumi expect negative economic growth of 1% this year.

For 2003, CSFB sees Israel ending the year on 2.7% growth, lower than estimates by other analysts.

While about it, CSFB added that if Israel deteriorates to the position of defaulting on its commitments, like Argentina, it would be naive to expect succor from the United States.