HP secretly disobeying US government export restrictions with Iran? One can hope.

Posted on December 31st, 2008 by bile
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http://news.slashdot.org/…

AdamWeeden writes “According to research done by the Boston Globe, HP has been secretly using a third-party company to sell printers to Iran. This is illegal under a ban instituted in 1995 by then US President Bill Clinton. The third-party company, Redington Gulf, operates out of Dubai and previously stated on their web site that the company began in 1997 with ‘a team of five people and the HP supplies as our first product, we started operations as the distributor for Iran,’ though now the site has been changed to remove the mention of Iran. Has HP unknowingly been supplying Iran with technology or have they been trying to secretly get by the US government’s export restrictions?”

I sure hope it’s the latter. In what way is it legitimate for the government to infringe on HP’s private property rights like this? Besides does anyone actually believe these types of restrictions actually do anything constructive? The government will still be able to smuggle in whatever they want and the rest of the residents will be forced into the black market to obtain the products and services they desire. Those who aren’t willing to go that far will be artificially kept back in the rat race leading to less productivity and bigger disparities between those within and without the country. Worse case they pick up lesser brands from China, India or Russia who have likely fewer if any trade restrictions.

Free and open trade makes for more peace and prosperity. Trade restrictions just aren’t bad foreign policy they are bad economics.

When goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will. -Fredric Bastiat

John, it’s completely rational

Posted on September 18th, 2008 by bile
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http://www.bloomberg.com/…

Morgan Stanley and Goldman have defended their business model, saying they have adequate capital and don’t need the deposit funding that banks have. Mack, 63, lambasted short sellers for pushing his firm’s shares lower.

In a memo to employees yesterday, Mack said the management committee is “taking every step possible to stop this irresponsible action in the market” and urged employees to contact clients to reassure them that the firm is performing strongly and has plenty of capital.

“There is no rational basis for the movements in our stock or credit-default spreads,” Mack wrote in the memo. “We’re in the midst of a market controlled by fear and rumors, and short sellers are driving our stock down.”

Things are bad and people don’t want to lose their investments. That is rational behavior. As for the short sellers… also rational. They expect prices to drop and wish to take advantage of that. It bugs me when individuals use the word rational in this way. Which is really “I don’t understand what’s going on or wish to excuse or diminish the action by claiming no one understands.” By definition those actions are rational.

The rumors surely are abundant. Who’s merging with who? Who’s got Morgan Stanley? Is it Wachovia? Citic Group? HSBC? Wells Fargo? JPMorgan Chase? Seems like people are just throwing out names. “What banks still exist? Yeah that one will buy them!” I’m guessing the reason Goldman isn’t getting this kind of attention is because they are a larger firm.

According to their press release MS has $170+ billion liquid. Some, months ago, was criticizing MS for having that much on hand as it would hurt their earnings just sitting around. They had a good quarter considering the environment. Goldman did relatively worse but still is in an decent position overall. It seems to me there is some game going on. As if there are forces trying to make these firms merge with a bank. Both firms’ credit default swaps are at 10ish levels below what Moody has rated them for which would put them at junk levels and their stocks plummeted on what looks to me to be nothing but positive news.

Unless GS and MS are lying about their liquid assets and the market knows something I don’t… I can’t help but feel like something bigger is going on. Perhaps it’s is just fear and shorters, people selling off to invest into safer things (gold stocks were up 7-12% yesterday) and those furthering the issue by taking advantage of it. With language like this I’m concerned the industry will become even that much more regulated and the world will be thrust further into financial crisis.