June 8, 2008

Can you make money by saber-rattling in the Persian Gulf?

Some analysts are arguing that Friday's $10.75 rise in oil prices was caused by Israeli saber-rattling against Iran. For example, The Hindu of India stated:

The Israeli Transport Minister’s threat that a military attack on Iran could become inevitable has pushed oil prices to record levels.

Oil prices breached the $139 a barrel mark after Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz said on Friday an attack on Iran was “unavoidable” as sanctions had failed to prevent Tehran from developing its nuclear capability.

Leaving aside the question of whether that's an accurate explanation of Friday's events, I'm wondering about the more general theoretical question. Could a government or a politician make money in the financial markets by threatening war in the Gulf?

If you knew that, say, a deputy prime minister of a regional power would make militarily threatening statements on Friday, but then lower the heat later, could you make a near guaranteed profit on oil futures? If so, how much could you make? How often could you get away with it before enough people would figure it out that you couldn't do it anymore?

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

43 comments:

YA said...

Such statements are typical of Mofaz, a political "newb" who has never managed to transcend the mentality of the Army Chief of Staff.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you would simply buy oil futures or call options in oil companies that don't have middle east operations, which do well when the middle east looks like it is in trouble.

If you made your bets and your timing was just right, a $10 rise in oil price like we saw Friday might be enough to increase your bet by about 5 times. That's a lot for a few days, but unless you are starting with a lot, really not a gigantic amount of money.

Anonymous said...

A more useful and potentially profitable question you should ask yourself is: Can you make money by using some of your sociological insights? Think about the things that frustrate you and think of how you can profit from them.

J. said...

Wrong ya. It happens that Mofaz is born and bred in Iran, speaks Parsi like the Parsi he is, and can read Ahmedinejad's mind like a book. Ehud Olmert, a sophisticated Ashkenazi lawyer, said the sme words a hundred times before Mofaz, but no one took notice. When the unpolished Mofaz said it, an icy tremor shook the Iranian leadership. A cold breeze may have hit oil shortist speculators too, but they have no memory and recovered fast.

Anonymous said...

They can, and do ALL the time!
As I understand it, a Congressman, or his immediate employee's are not subject to insider trading laws.
This means a congressional secretary can trade on information she knows regarding, let's say, a large contract going to Halliburton, legally.
It's been the little "money tree" that congress has enjoyed since Joe Kennedy made insider trading illegal--except for congressmen.
But here's a more important aspect to it...
Let's say you're the CEO of Boeing, and you'd like favorable treatment in some way from Congressman Jones. What you might do is,on top of some "modest" contribution, give him a call the next time you have significant information that you know will move the market.
It would be understood by you and Congressman Jones what this "inside gossip" would mean: a very quiet "political contribution" that is as large as a congressman's margin account could stand.
Last I checked, congress was talking about new legislation to bar them from the free money. I don't know what became of it.
And again, their secretaries can legally trade too.

Trader said...

Yes, and an Israel\USA strike on Iran by election day is currently trading at only 15% at Intrade. Seems low to me, no?

Somebody who is heavily invested in oil can sweat the extra $20 a week at the pumps if it means winfall profits in the markets. This has to explain at least part of the warmongering among the media and bloggers.

Some world events aren't hard to predict, such as the Tibet riots preceding the Olympics.

Anonymous said...

Second anonymous -- please give an example of how you would profit from your sociological insights.

Anonymous said...

"Could a government or a politician make money in the financial markets by threatening war in the Gulf?"

Governments tend to be a little flat footed, but politicians can do it. You seem to miss the other action during the week. Soros said the oil price was a bubble reported on June 3

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601082&sid=adq_deGSUtgg

http://quotes.ino.com/chart/?s=NYMEX_CL.N08&v=w

Presumably, part of the oil price decline early in the week was the result of Soros saying the oil was in a bubble. Since Soros is famous for attacking bubbles or overvalued assets, other investors piled on and crude declined Monday through Wednesday. It is obvious that Soros has a short position in crude. And other speculators are also short crude --- but being risk averse might bail out if crude price jumps. The bailing out of other speculators probably helped push the price of crude up.

I suspect an individual politician could do this, although he would have to have a mind for the markets. There is no insider trading reporting for futures contracts. The key thing would be identifying opportunities to saber rattle. The crude price would have to have been on a decline and the regional tensions somewhat on a decline. The daily volume in crude was 324,000 contracts. Getting in and out of 2,000 contracts would not be hard. 2,000 x 10,000 dollars profit is 20 million. The run up started on Thursday, so the profit may have been more than 10,000 a contract. Of course, it takes money to make money --- to make the 20 million would require a bank balance of 20 million to handle margin calls. A billionaire or large hedge fund might be willing to do this 5x or 10x size, but the larger the size, the more risky it is.

Using option contracts would probably be the way to go. More leverage in terms of margin and less market slippage. the July 140 call went from 89 cents to $4.11 and the July 135 call went from $1.36 to $6.69. Profit per contract would be $3,220 and $5,330 respectively. Buying and selling three thousand options in each strike is alot, but doable.

One of the main problems with this is the politician has the potential to lose a lot of money if they are not careful. Since we have not heard of politicians losing millions of dollars trading oil, this implies a limit to the number of politicians engaged in this activity. It would probably work better if a hedge fund manager paid a politician to say certain things to affect currency rates or oil prices and the hedge fund takes the profits or losses.

neil craig said...

This was a suspicion some months ago when the Iranians seized a british ship which was in disputed waters. The oil price did rise but on the other hand the Iranians released them fairly quickly which suggests they weren't milking it.

This does lead to an interesting point. We are told that the current price is due to speculation. Would that be people speculating that George is going to launch a major strike against Iran before November - in which case flamable tars will hit the fan - the Iranians not only being able to close their own production but to make the Gulf unnavigable.

Anonymous said...

I can't find the reference, but I seem to recall that a King of some Balkan state (I want to say Montenegro), during the late 1800s, used to periodically start rumors of war so that he could profit often in the Paris bourse.

Proofreader said...

I take it the broader implication is that American neocons are cashing in at the moment, and have been for the last year and a half or so.

On the other side, the Geat Peak Oil Scare will likely turn out to be yet another confidence game played by oil companies and financiers.

Check this:

A conservative calculation is that at least 60 per cent of today’s $128 per barrel price of crude oil comes from unregulated futures speculation by hedge funds, banks and financial groups using the London ICE Futures and New York NYMEX futures exchanges and uncontrolled inter-bank or Over-The-Counter trading to avoid scrutiny

http://tinyurl.com/6ysoer

eh said...

Steve, are you suggesting that the markets could be, in some way, manipulated? I am shocked, shocked.

rightsaidfred said...

This would be a kind of insider trading, and it could work for a while. I imagine in the long term the market would figure out what you were doing and adjust.

Insider trading is a type of parasitic loss, and I'm interested in how much parasitism a system can take until it collapses. Occasionally we see animals overwhelmed by parasites: I'm wondering if a society can have a similar fate. I suppose a society does not have death, but a lesser level of existence.

Anonymous said...

I always thought Al Qaeda or some other terrorist organization could make a fortune by investing in oil futures and then carrying off a spectacular attack on a tanker or pipeline accompanied by high profile threats to do more of the same. Heck, even the threats might be enough if they come from a credible source. It doesn't take much to spook oil traders.

beowulf said...

You know that's a good question. The US Treasury Department can pull tens of billions out its hat at a moment's notice, I've often wondered if a president could do the same-- the government could buy put options on Pharma or defense contractors the day before the president gives a speech calling for cracking down on drug prices.

As for making money on sociological insights, that's tough. When you can't move the markets (like a government can), then timing is everything. Being right doesn't count until the rest of the world ("the market") agrees with you.

Since governments can move markets, a more profitable effort would be studying politics. If you buy, say, buildings in a city just before it enacts zoning restrictions on new construction, your holdings will go up in value because of the government-created shortage of new competitors.

Anonymous said...

Holy smokes! That's a pretty good insight. For politicians market manipulation is easy and it sure beats working for a living.

William said...

In this market it seems it would be very easy to get away with - all of the speculating and constant price rises would just allow you to look like yet another honest speculator. But nobody who does business in that market has ties to Irael, right?

SFG said...

A more useful and potentially profitable question you should ask yourself is: Can you make money by using some of your sociological insights? Think about the things that frustrate you and think of how you can profit from them.

Agreed, Steve-o. You're another bright guy who sees things others won't but can't profit from it.

Here's something I suggest: buy land in Minnesota or Wisconsin or some other cold country. It's likely to be free of invaders from warmer climes for a while, and if global warming occurs, the land will rise in value. You thus might consider a move to St. Paul, say. Or maybe Michigan; Rockwell's boys are there...

none of the above said...

The thing is, sometimes markets move in pretty unexpected ways as a result of news. So you could probably make a profit much of the time, but you'd probably lose money at least some of the time.

John Robb has made the point repeatedly that terrorists that can attack important oil infrastructure can probably make a profit at it by investing appropriately. This is a similar situation, but with much better resources than a terrorist group. (On the other hand, the terrorists don't have to worry so much about oversight. I have to guess that being caught doing these trades, as (say) an employee of the defense ministry with foreknowledge of the speech, would get you a fast one-way trip to prison.

testing99 said...

I'm surprised Israel has not nuked Iran already, probably a reflection of Olmert's incompetence and criminal charges.

Ahmadinejad has once again promised to wipe Israel off the map, and assured Japan that America "would cease to exist very soon."

When a nation promises repeatedly to wipe out another, while pursuing nukes, that tends to provoke a reaction.

As for the oil bet, it's pretty risky Steve. You'd have to bet that war would not break out in the ME, which means betting on the self restraint of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, the Saudis, the Egyptians, and so on, none of whom are known for self-restraint. Or that other factors won't push up oil demand.

It was suspected, but never completely proven, that Saddam used various political posturing to pump up the market price of oil when he ran low on cash. But the situation was more stable, without Iran's nukes coming into play.

For that sort of futures bet to pay off, you either need to hedge (driving down profits) or be absolutely sure that oil will drop back down.

I would second Anon on using insight to make money, with the caveat that you will be affected by human nature and randomness -- a long term bet on say, companies that build gated communities could be wiped out by death of a competent leader and an incompetent one being promoted.

Anonymous said...

I am a lawyer and do a fair amount of securities work. I've never heard of an insider trading exemption for members of Congress. Can the previous poster point me to the relevant statute, regulation or case?

This article seems to suggest that the SEC frowns on insider trading by Congresscritters.

Muswell Hillbilly said...

They can, and do ALL the time!
As I understand it, a Congressman, or his immediate employee's are not subject to insider trading laws.
This means a congressional secretary can trade on information she knows regarding, let's say, a large contract going to Halliburton, legally.


Um, no. You clearly don't "understand it."

Insider trading laws may not apply, but there are much more stringent House and Senate ethical rules, not to mention all of the ethical regs in the USC and CFR that apply to all government employees.

Your Halliburton scenario is painfully ignorant. A government employee using any nonpublic information for one's personal gain can result in federal charges, and the legal standards are a LOT looser and easier to prove than securities fraud and insider trading.

Martin said...

I don't see how Israel can avoid rattling it's saber, when Iran's president has been vowing to wipe it off the map. Not that Iran could anytime soon. It takes more than one nuclear weapon to be a nuclear power.

A friend of mine brought up a good point - why hasn't Israel invested in a sea-based nuclear deterrent? Three or four submarines with nuclear missiles would give them a deterrent that no muslim nation could touch. That's what they need to insure their survival as a nation.

Anonymous said...

There are a number of hedge fund traders, trading on margin at 1 billion dollars and sometimes over, who have been having a grand old time with commodities in general, and oil futures in particular.
The is a historical phenomena. Ten years ago, they didn't exist. Commodities were generally very sleepy in their movements one way or the other.
Now, a hedge fund trader, trading in his underwear in his mansion in Connecticut, can shout a "buy" order to his underling, and actually move a stock considerably, should he choose. Certainly enough to get people's attention. He gets on the phone to like-minded "friends" with the same deep pockets, throws some ideas around, next thing you know, oil is going nuts.
This is unprecedented, that a few (in my opinion) amoral aspiring sociopaths can run a market up, much like "Bucky" Hunt did with gold back in the day.
These aren't financial geniuses. They are essentially daytrader's with VERY deep pockets.
This is why Congress, it appears, is going to enact legislation to curb hedge fund abuse by not allowing them to trade commodities on margin. In my opinion, that should have been "emergency legislation" that should be a done deal by now. Better late than never.
It won't make commodities as sleepy as they used to be on the trading floor, but it's certainly a small dose of prozac that will mitigate these bullshit market moves by people of questionable morals and emotional health.
As far as the good people of the Ottoman Empire, they have so much money in this stock market, they could tank it tomorrow and for many many weeks thereafter, making the percentage drop of 1929 look like a day at disneyland.
They can also run it up when they want. They don't need "news" to do it. CNBC would justify it for them and everyone would believe it, as they always do( ("Investor's are shruggin' off bad news and lookin' for bargains! Back to you, Maria!").
China has the same ability.
I just share this to point out that life as we know it in these United States is much more tenuous than most people would like to know about.
I'm constantly amazed we're still operating.

Eric said...

Meh. The price of oil went up because the dollar went down. Since oil is (for the time being) denominated in dollars, it makes sense to snap it up when your currency is strong.

Now, why does the dollar continue to go down? That's a really good question.

nix said...

testing99 sed:
"...which means betting on the self restraint of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, the Saudis, the Egyptians, and so on, none of whom are known for self-restraint."

Eh? I thought Israel was threatening?

Svigor said...

That's what they need to insure their survival as a nation.

Swaying American Jewry over to reciprocal (i.e., non-crypto) ethnic/genetic nationalism is what they need to ensure their survival as a nation; unless the western zeitgeist changes, Israel is doomed by the demographic timebomb.

Anonymous said...

Martin said:
"It takes more than one nuclear weapon to be a nuclear power."

I agree. But considering that Israel is a rather small country physically (actually a bit smaller than Maricopa County, Arizona) 1 or 2 well placed nukes is all you need to decimate Israel as we know it.

Not to digress here, but that's one thing that always struck me as odd about Zionism. Yes, in a Jewish state Jews can be amongst their own, etc., but from a Jew-survival standpoint Israel seems to be a case of putting all your eggs in one basket.

-Vanilla Thunder

KlaosOldanburg said...

Israel is doomed by the demographic timebomb.

They are doomed by two demographic timebombs. The United States of Aztlan is not going to be BFF w/Israel the way we are now.

Anonymous said...

Israel already has submarines with nuclear capability.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/24/AR2006082401050.html

Israel Buys 2 Nuclear-Capable Submarines
By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI
The Associated Press

Friday, August 25, 2006; 1:26 AM
JERUSALEM -- With the purchase of two more German-made Dolphin submarines capable of carrying nuclear warheads, military experts say Israel is sending a clear message to Iran that it can strike back if attacked by nuclear weapons.

The purchases come at a time when Iran is refusing to bow to growing Western demands to halt its nuclear program, and after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."

The new submarines, built at a cost of $1.3 billion with Germany footing one-third of the bill, have diesel-electric propulsion systems that allow them to remain submerged for longer periods of time than the three nuclear arms-capable submarines already in Israel's fleet, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The latest submarines not only would be able to carry out a first strike should Israel choose to do so, but they also would provide Israel with crucial second-strike capabilities, said Paul Beaver, a London-based independent defense analyst.

Israel is already believed to have that ability in the form of the Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, which are buried so far underground they would survive a nuclear strike, he said.

"The Iranians would be very foolish if they attacked Israel," Beaver said.

German officials have said the contract for the new submarines was signed July 6, and the Jerusalem Post reported this week the subs will be operational shortly.

Israel, operating on a policy of nuclear ambiguity, has never confirmed or denied whether it has nuclear weapons. It is believed, however, to have the world's sixth-largest stockpile of atomic arms, including hundreds of warheads.

Anonymous said...

Eric:

"Meh. The price of oil went up because the dollar went down. Since oil is (for the time being) denominated in dollars, it makes sense to snap it up when your currency is strong.

Now, why does the dollar continue to go down? That's a really good question."

Eric, the price of oil didn't run up only because of hedge fund traders. It's more complicated than that, but they helped.

The dollar is going down because the Federal Reserve is printing money electronically, and buying into the major indexes as it see's fit to stop heavy downturns.
This is another unprecedented activity.
Even Greenspan wasn't up the market's behind this much on a day to day basis.
If you pump more money into the system, it's worth less.
Other concerns obviously play in also, but that's the simple version of it.
Again, if hedge funders were not allowed to trade on margin with important commodities, things wouldn't be as supercharged as they are now.

John Craig said...

Whatever happened to that story about there having been massive shorting of the airline stocks right before 9/11? That was on the front pages for a while and then just sort of disappeared. Does anyone know if they ever got to the bottom of that?

tommy said...

If Bush hits Iran, then it will be after the election is over, I suspect.

Swaying American Jewry over to reciprocal (i.e., non-crypto) ethnic/genetic nationalism is what they need to ensure their survival as a nation; unless the western zeitgeist changes, Israel is doomed by the demographic timebomb.

I'm not so sure about this. Gaza, the West Bank, and possibly East Jerusalem can be dealt with by simply giving them up. The Israeli Arab birthrate might fall just as it has in many Arab nations and there is a rapidly growing population of ultra-Orthodox Jews who apparently breed as fast as any group of Arabs. The demographic situation doesn't seem very clear cut.

Anonymous said...

Why not! It is all a great big game of Monopoly. Isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a lower-level government minister has decided to monkey with world commodity prices?

Wikipedia:

The Transportation Minister of Israel is the government minister at the head of the Transportation Ministry in Israel.

A relatively minor post in the Israeli cabinet, it is often given to smaller parties in the governing coalitions.

Nevertheless, there has been a Transportation Minister in every Israeli government to date.

Anonymous said...

Steve: regarding making money with your sociological insights:

You are fully aware of the disaster that South Africa is becoming since the ANC took over.

Here's your moneymaking opportunity: What does (or, really, used to) South Africa do? Mine. What? Gold and platinum. But the power company, Eskom, since it's had inadequate maintenance the last 10 years, (due to incompetence and corruption -- like anywhere in the world that blacks run things) now cannot both provide power to the mines and to the cities. You can't send miners thousands of feet belowground without assurance of power to get them and the ore back out. Hence, South African platinum production is wa-a-a-a-y down since January of this year. This situation ain't gonna change anytime soon.

But, there is a lovely company in North America that mines palladium and some platinum, called Stillwater Mining, in Montana. At the time of the original crisis with Eskom cutting power to the mines in January, Stillwater had a huge run-up. It has now corrected to its 200 day moving average. Stillwater has one of the largest North American deposits of palladium and platinum.

But NEVER act on stock tips from anonymous people on the internet. Do your own due diligence.

Or, just buy platinum and palladium bullion. Kitco.com and Apmex.com are both sources.

Anonymous said...

"Second anonymous -- please give an example of how you would profit from your sociological insights."

You can short stocks from certain African countries that have stock exchanges (e.g., Kenya has one, South Africa has one, etc.) and go long stocks in Northern Europe, Japan, etc. (yes Japan's stocks crashed in 1989 after they were ludicrously overpriced; that's not the case now, so don't worry about it). With one caution: commodity-producing companies can be fairly idiot-proof, so don't short an African oil company or gold miner or something unless you think there's a real prospect of the country's government expropriating the assets. Short the stock of a company easier to screw up, like an airline. Go long on infrastructure, natural resource, and steel companies in Northern Europe and Japan. E.g., Norway's Statoil, Germany's Siemens, Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, etc.

A simpler strategy, if you want to index, is short a South African index ETF (e.g., EZA), and cancel out its natural resources advantages somewhat by going long an index of a country with a different demo profile that still has natural resources, e.g., Australia (EWA)

"It happens that Mofaz is born and bred in Iran, speaks Parsi like the Parsi he is, and can read Ahmedinejad's mind like a book."

While Olmert was in law school or whatever, Mofaz was participating in one of the greatest hostage rescue/commando raids in history, at Entebbe. He also was a pioneer of the use of bulldozers against the Pals, to reduce IDF casualties. Definitely a harder ass on the Arabs than his Ashkenazi colleagues. That's probably what Israel needs as a PM, a Mizrahi instead of an Askhenazi. Then peace deals would break out all of a sudden, because the Muslims would start worrying that they are dealing with someone crazier than them.

* Second Anonymous

Anonymous said...

The problem with making money investing based on Steve's sociological insight is this:
People generally behave as if they believe what Sailer says, although they will vigorously deny the same with their tongues. How would, for instance, property values in real estate differ if Steve's theories were false and the 'conventional wisdom' true? The answer is that the market has already priced in his insights.

Martin said...

"Anonymous said...

Israel already has submarines with nuclear capability."

I had not known that. Thanks for the info. Well then, problem solved. At least in the short term. I don't imagine any muslim nation has the ability to hunt down submarines, or even has much of a navy at all for that matter.

In the long term, as has been pointed out, Israel has a big demographic problem. About 20% of its citizens are arabs. And of course, their hostile neighbors aren't going away. I'm reminded of a story told by a Nixon confidante (Halderman or someone - I can't remember). Someone had asked old Dick (this was during the 73' war) if Israel would survive. He said yeah, they'd survive the war. The questioner clarified - no, they were asking about Israel's long term prospects. Nixon just extended his fist with thumb up......and then slowly turned it down. Nixon bore no animus toward Israel. But he was a realist.

headache said...

"That's probably what Israel needs as a PM, a Mizrahi instead of an Askhenazi. Then peace deals would break out all of a sudden, because the Muslims would start worrying that they are dealing with someone crazier than them. "

LOL, good one. I had such a laugh!

neil craig said...

John Craig (no relation) I was going to mention the fall in airline stock before 9/11. It strongly suggests somebody with money was willing to bet it on 9/11 in advance.

Svigor said...

The demographic situation doesn't seem very clear cut.

It probably isn't. But unless the western zeitgeist swings the other way, it'll continue to pull Israel left, with only the Orthodox able to effectively resist (it takes true belief to maintain real ingroup morality). If the only Israelis left are Orthodox, Israel is going to have serious problems, not the least of which would be a bifurcation between Israel and the diaspora.

Also, as the west trends left and communications becomes cheaper and cheaper, it's going to be harder and harder for Israel to pull off her Apartheid impersonation.

Anonymous said...

Those of you worrying about the imminent demise of Israel ought to read Tom Friedman's latest NY Times column (yes, he writes some crap, but he's mostly on target with this one). Here are some excerpts:

Question: What do America’s premier investor, Warren Buffett, and Iran’s toxic president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have in common? Answer: They’ve both made a bet about Israel’s future.


Ahmadinejad declared on Monday that Israel “has reached its final phase and will soon be wiped out from the geographic scene.”


By coincidence, I heard the Iranian leader’s statement on Israel Radio just as I was leaving the headquarters of Iscar, Israel’s famous precision tool company, headquartered in the Western Galilee, near the Lebanon border. Iscar is known for many things, most of all for being the first enterprise that Buffett bought overseas for his holding company, Berkshire Hathaway.


Buffett paid $4 billion for 80 percent of Iscar and the deal just happened to close a few days before Hezbollah, a key part of Iran’s holding company, attacked Israel in July 2006, triggering a monthlong war. I asked Iscar’s chairman, Eitan Wertheimer, what was Buffett’s reaction when he found out that he had just paid $4 billion for an Israeli company and a few days later Hezbollah rockets were landing outside its parking lot.


Buffett just brushed it off with a wave, recalled Wertheimer: “He said, ‘I’m not interested in the next quarter. I’m interested in the next 20 years.’ ” Wertheimer repaid that confidence by telling half his employees to stay home during the war and using the other half to keep the factory from not missing a day of work and setting a production record for the month. It helps when many of your “employees” are robots that move around the buildings, beeping humans out of the way.


So who would you put your money on? Buffett or Ahmadinejad? I’d short Ahmadinejad and go long Warren Buffett.

[snip]

in the first quarter of 2008, the top four economies after America in attracting venture capital for start-ups were: Europe $1.53 billion, China $719 million, Israel $572 million and India $99 million, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. Israel, with 7 million people, attracted almost as much as China, with 1.3 billion.

Boaz Golany, who heads engineering at the Technion, Israel’s M.I.T., told me: “In the last eight months, we have had delegations from I.B.M., General Motors, Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart visiting our campus. They are all looking to develop R & D centers in Israel.”

[snip]

Iran’s economic and military clout today is largely dependent on extracting oil from the ground. Israel’s economic and military power today is entirely dependent on extracting intelligence from its people. Israel’s economic power is endlessly renewable. Iran’s is a dwindling resource based on fossil fuels made from dead dinosaurs.

Chaim