This is where the RMT solution works. Let's face it, most of the sales on the AH are controlled by RMT. It could be shihei tools or food, but it's very clear it's impossible to control them. So I propose that whichever system SE uses to sell goods without personal contact be limited to standard NQ stuff.
I don't see how they would solve the problem. People will just shout in FF14-Jeuno/Whitegate about how they have +1 items or they'll park their bazaar in FF14-Rolanberry Fields for people to look through. No matter how much people hate RMTs, the RMTs can provide the item cheaper than the regular crafters because they produce everything in bulk.
For the crafters that work their tail off to sell their new potions, armor, weapons, buyers will seek them out this time. Those that are suspected as being a RMT won't generate very many sales. Who would want a RMT person's name on their gear, seriously?
Again, simple economics here. If you can get cheaper items/consumables from an RMT, people will just go to them. I understand some people have some sort of an internal honor system where they won't buy from an RMT, but those people are far and few in between. How do you distinguish an RMT crafter from a regular power crafter anyway? In FFXI you go to the auction house to buy some shihei or whatever and see that they're all sold by the same player -- then you see where the player is located and they're off doing LS stuff in sky or sea or whatever.
This solution works for everyone except the RMT. Crafters can spend their time/resources making goods that you couldn't find just anywhere. By removing the "luck" factor of a HQ, the economy would be much more balanced.
I'm not a big fan of random HQ items either. Um.. that is all.
Honestly, I'd prefer if mobs rarely, if ever, dropped a finished product, but instead ingredients to get fashioned into one. From there, it's just a matter of making sure it can't be monopolized and fairly accessible so we aren't looking at like Star Earrings 2.0.
Eh, don't most NMs in FFXI drop crafting materials anyway (other than end-game mobs) like claws and cloths? In the end it doesn't really matter if it's the item or the material that is dropped. Wherever the bottleneck for obtaining the pieces is, that's where the RMT will be.
I guess a way to fix that would be to make it so that there are no NMs at all and all mobs of a certain species have a certain chance to drop materials for an item. Or another way would be to make it so that NMs have random spawns ANYWHERE in the world. This'll take the camping factor out of item hunting and turn it blind luck.
To have a thriving economy you need monetary 'flow.' If players could buy one arrow and reuse it then there's no point in crafting since a small number of crafters can create one arrow for every archer class and after that point there is no more business for them. If players can recraft spent items into usable items then they will just level their own crafting skill and not involve any other players. If there are no real consumables/money sinks and monsters drop gil, then there will be inflation as the gil builds up. WoW took a brilliant step towards reducing inflation by making everything in that game a money sink -- transport, reagents, auction house fees, repair fees, training, etc.
Finally, I like to see a bio on the crafters. You could check what they do for fun and how they established their skills. Another purpose of this bio would be to sniff out the RMT. Because unlike legit players who party, do missions, other stuff for fun, RMT's only care about earning gil to sell.
I'm the kind of person who likes to sit around and craft all day. To me 'success' is not measured by how many +5 Holy Avengers I posses or what my level is, but by the number of gil that I have in my account. That is my idea of fun. How do you propose telling apart chinese players vs. chinese RMT or american players vs. american RMT? The chinese aren't the only ones who sell gil, you know..
Honestly, I think the best way to counter RMT would be to have SE-sanctioned RMT. You could do things like buy in-game money from another player by paying for their account for a month. I think EVE Online (and Wurm Online, for sure) has a system like this. The reasoning behind this is that people who buy gil will still buy gil regardless of the ToS or not. However, if they buy gil, they buy gil not from the RMT (who have no use for nontransferable in-game play time), but from their fellow players who will benefit by getting a month for free.
I'm sure there are a ton of players out there who have enough gil in the system where they would give up a month or two worth of in-game money to offset a small number of RMT players who hoard money for sale.
Best of all for SE is that they can charge a fee for buying time for other people so it's win for the buyers, win for the sellers, and win for SE.