Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Boom, bust and war?

In vedic astrology planetary periods are of major importance. The Rahu major period can be associated with material progress if Rahu is not afflicted or afflicting in a chart. If Rahu is afflicted or afflicting in a chart it tends to be associated with manipulations that may result in signficiant gains but which usually leads to exposure and significant losses. Rahu is also linked to intoxcants, manipulation for selfish ends and criminal activities. Among the professions, Rahu rules unscrupulous salesmen, diplomats, winemakers, shady characters and criminals. During the 18 year Rahu period in the SAMVA USA chart (Perpetual Union), from 1919 to 1937 all these traits of Rahu were brought into the limelight of the national life of the USA in one way or the other. This article highlights the events and gives an astrological explanation for them. It then answers the question if the present crisis is comparable to the Great Depression of the 1930s and if it is likely to lead to war as it did then.

I. Rahu: rise and fall
Rahu can bring a sudden pronounced rise in the life followed by an even greater downfall. This is because under the influence of Rahu materialistic gains are often achieved on the basis of manipulations rooted in selfish desires. Once the manipulations are exposed, as they invariably are, a crisis ensues involving a loss of the benefits. The scandal engulfing Tiger Woods' marriage in December 2009 is a good example of the expression of this energy at an individual level. He cheated on his wife. Once it was exposed, she left him and took the kids. His commerical standing as the world's leading professional golf player was also damaged, with many sponsors dropping him. This is exactly the pattern seen at a national level during the Rahu major period in the SAMVA USA chart, which lasted from April 1919 to April 1937. This is the time in US national life that has been called the “Roaring Twenties” (1919-1929) and the Great Depression (1930-1939). Another example of this energy in the national life is during the Rahu sub-period, which ran from 2003 to 2006. This was within the major period of Venus as 4th lord of fixed assets in the 6th house of financial stability. The overriding emphasis was thus on mortgage debt. During the Rahu sub-period, highly toxic sub-prime mortgages were sold to financial institutions in the USA and around the world. This was a clear case of deception and manipulation, with the mortgages being rolled into structured products (SIV's) which reduced the transparency of their risk. Those chicks came home to roost in the Jupiter sub-period (2007-2008), when yet another major financial crisis erupted.

II. Rahu: intoxicants, manipulation and crime
Rahu is associated with intoxicants and underworld activities and this phenomenon was closely linked to the US Prohibition, the rise of American Gangsters and their violent criminal activities and battles with law enforcement trying to contain the expansion of organised crime.

The rise: The Roaring Twenties
The 1920s is usually referred to as the Roaring Twenties and sometimes as the Jazz Age. Scientific advances and material progress ushered in modernism, which gave mankind the feeling it existed outside of nature and was no longer bound by its laws. The cultural life became transformed, with the musical genres gravitating towards incoherence, such as jazz, or carefreeness, typified by life in the speakeasys. The lifestyle of women changed during the 1920s, including their increased smoking and general flouting of social and sexual norms. The 1920s has also been referred to as “the lawless years” when crime reached unprecedented heights in the national life.

Instant gratification
In the 1920s, companies began to offer consumers loans to buy their big ticket items. The concept of "buy now, pay later" and "instant gratification" caught on and household debt began to grow in the USA. This loan policy eventually found its way into the stock market. Astrologically, Rahu aspects the 6th house of financial stability in the SAMVA USA chart. This suggests that debts may become a source of instability.

The birth of the boom
During WW I, the US public began to buy Liberty Bonds to enable the government to fund the war effort. However, based on earlier stock market panics, the public was suspicious of the stock market and few people invested in stocks. In the 1920s, financier, Charles Mitchell, CEO of the National City Bank, saw an opportunity to market stocks and securities to the public. As he was a talented salesman he succeeded in marketing a broad range of securities to the public. By 1925, 3 million investors had invested in the US stock market. Technology also made trading easier. The idea of a "bull market" took hold and the US investing public began to view Wall Street as the source of "easy profits." The rise of the stock market enabled leading participants to rise from ordinary means and become the financial superstars of their age. The public was driven by greed and buying "on margin" enabled people to buy many times more worth of stocks than the amount they had on hand. In 1928, stocks rose 50% in one year. Women stepped out and entered both college and the stock market. Astrologically, it is easy to see how greed greased the wheels of reckless bank lending with a huge leveraged stock bubble being created.

A dark underside
Fitting the Rahu period, there was a dark side to the developments, in terms of “rampant manipulation" and "insider trading". Most people did not know this, but the stock market was actually a giant rigged gambling casino with the odds stacked against the ordinary investors. It was customary for the shrewd insiders to hype certain stocks with the public pouring into those stocks. At that point, the insiders dumped their holdings and ordinary investors took a bath. At the height of the 1920s boom, in March 1929, Paul Warburg warned of a stock market crash and a depression, but he was drowned out with phrases like "it’s a global economy" and "this time it's different." President Hoover even stated that the there was no reason to worry as the financial market was built on the "fundamentally sound" US economy. The strong influence of Rahu in the SAMVA USA chart, including its aspect to the 2nd house of wealth, is consistent with the manipulation of the stock market. 8th lord Saturn in the 5th house of speculation also aspects the natal 2nd lord Sun in the 7th house, increasing the desire for wealth and pulling in foreign investors as well.

The fall: The Great Depression of the 1930s
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s. It was the longest, most widespread, and deepest depression of the 20th century, and is used in the 21st century as an example of how far the world's economy can decline. The depression originated in the United States, starting with the stock market crash in October 1929, but quickly spread to almost every country in the world.

The market becomes volatile
In September 1929, volatility began in the stock market and it continued in October. In mid October, Thomas Lamont, the CEO of the investment bank J.P. Morgan, wrote a letter to President Hoover stating that the “market will self-correct” and the “future is brilliant.” A famous economist in his day, Irving Fischer, proclaimed that “stocks have entered a permanently high plateau.” A most banal karmic trap had been sprung. Astrologically, the SAMVA USA chart entered the Rahu-Ketu period on October 19, 1929. As transit Rahu and Ketu were stationary over their natal placements and also in the most effective points of the 4th and 10th houses, major trouble would be predicted with this transit-to-natal conjunction, especially when the transit nodes are stationary. It is the most difficult aspect known.

The market crashes
To everyone’s surprise, in the afternoon on October 23rd, there was a sudden sell-off in the automotive stocks. When the market opened on Thursday, October 24th, later known as "Black Thursday", the crash began in earnest. Investors watched in stunned disbelief as stock prices plunged. No one wanted to buy, everyone wanted to sell. On that same day, leading investors met secretly in a hastily convened meeting at J.P. Morgan. They quickly agreed to pool their money in a $250 million fund with the express purpose of buying select stocks. The aim was to stem the slide in stock prices and restore confidence of the investing public. At first this seemed to work. The market stabilized later in the day and remained calm on Friday and Saturday. However, on Monday, October 28, the banks were facing a liquidity crunch due to the reduced value of stocks. As a result, they began to send notices out to their borrowers instructing them to come up with more collateral for their loans. If they couldn’t, the banks would be forced to sell their shares at the market rate and a significant loss. The deadline was set for 1.00 pm on the following day, Tuesday October 29. This development ensured that Monday became the worst day in stock market history. On Tuesday, the powerful selling continued and by the close of that day, stocks had lost 22% of their value at the open of business on Monday.

Astrologically, it is clear that such a nasty combination of period and transit influences can bring the worst outcome, especially when natally afflicting in the chart, as is the case in the SAMVA USA chart.

Banks in trouble
After the stock market had taken a hit, the focus began to shift to the banks, who had lent enthusiastically to people interested in investing in the stock market. As liquidity became squeezed, there were runs by depositors and banks began to go out of business. By early 1933, when the US Bank Holiday took place, hundreds of US banks had been closed or been restructured.

Unemployment, a national scourge
With bank lending dwindling fast, companies began to shut down and people were laid off. Unemployment increased sharply. In a mistaken effort to protect companies, a trend of economic nationalism emerged, with tariffs being raised which slowly choked of international trade, deepening the depression. The astrological influences are clear; the fall phase of the Rahu period was more significant than its rise. Those who had inflated the economy in the boom years, now saw all they had desired taken away and many became destitute. It is also noteworthy that Rahu afflicts the 10th house, which rules foreign trade. This is consistent with the mistaken effort to try to protect the economy by raising tariffs but in doing so the economy was hurt even more as the trade collapsed.

II. The prominence of intoxicants and crime
The 1920s saw the birth of liberalism, social and political turbulence and increased transatlantic cultural exchange that followed the end of the First World War, as well as the export of American jazz culture to Europe. Rahu is prominently placed in the chart, suggesting a popular tendency to indulge in smoking and intoxicating substances. While such practices are ever present, it is no accident that smoking increased rapidly in the 1920s and 1930s.

Women during the 1920s
The social influences did not leave women untouched. A "new breed" of young women appeared in the 1920s. The so-called “flappers” wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking, treating sex in a casual manner, smoking, driving automobiles and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms. Astrologically, this is seen in the aspect of Rahu to the 6th house in the SAMVA USA chart. Venus is natally placed in this house and hence this influence was strongly felt by women during the Rahu period.

Prohibition in the United States (1920 – 1933)
The Prohibition in the USA is a 14 year period when the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol for consumption were banned nationally as mandated in the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The so-called "Volstead Act", which entered into force on January 16, 1920, established the legal definition of intoxicating liquor. Though the Volstead Act prohibited the sale of alcohol, it did little to enforce the law. The illegal production and distribution of liquor, or bootlegging, became rampant, and the national government did not have the means or desire to enforce every border, lake, river, and speakeasy in America. By 1925, in New York City alone, there were up to 100,000 ‘speakeasy clubs’ where alcoholic beverages were sold illegally. Speakeasy operators routinely bribed police to leave them alone or to give them advance notice of raids. Astrologically, this is seen in the placement of Rahu in the most effective point of the 10th house of the SAMVA USA chart. While Rahu rules manipulation and crime, the 10th house rules the executive government, including law enforcement. These dynamics were therefore stongly felt during this period.

American gangsters of the 1920s
The social scene of the 1920's not only encouraged prohibition, but it also sparked new waves of gang-related crime such as, bootlegging and bank robbery. The most notable American gangster of the 1920s was Al Capone, who led a crime syndicate dedicated to smuggling and bootlegging of liquor and other illegal activities during the Prohibition Era of the 1920s and 1930s. Capone was notorious for his control of large portions of the Chicago underworld, which provided an estimated US $100 million per year in revenue. This wealth was generated through all manner of illegal enterprises, such as gambling and prostitution, although the largest moneymaker was the sale of liquor. Capone used an unprecedented level of violence in the conduct of his criminal activities, which drew the ire of his rivals, and spurred their retaliation.

Mob wars
The Mob wars were especially pronounced in the second half of the 1920s. These wars reached their peak with the so-called Saint Valentine's Day massacre, when the gang led by Al Capone massacred members of rival Bugs Moran’s gang. Although he was never successfully convicted of racketeering charges, Capone's criminal career ended in 1931, when he was indicted and convicted by the federal government for income-tax evasion. Even after Al Capone was behind bars, the government’s battle with organised crime continued well into the 1930s, as vivified by the famous tv series, The Untouchables, starring Robert Stack as Elliott Ness. Again, this is clearly seen in the chart with Rahu in the most effective point of the 10th house and aspecting the 2nd house of wealth, the 4th house of communal harmony and 6th house of conflict and the courts.

Bank robberies of the 1930s
In the first half of the 1930s, an epidemic of bank robberies in the Midwest was orchestrated by colorful criminal gangs who took advantage of superior firepower and fast getaway cars to bedevil local law enforcement agencies. Such robbers were often viewed as somewhat noble in their assaults upon the banking industry, which at the time was evicting many farmers and families from their homesteads. The fact that the robbers frequently took stolen cars across state lines (a federal offense) gave the federal authorities the right to pursue them. The powers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation were broadened in 1935 and by 1939, the FBI had become pre-eminent in the field of domestic intelligence. Rahu aspects the 6th house, which is ruled by Jupiter. As Jupiter is one of the indicators of banking, it is not a surprise that gangsters were busy robbing banks during this period and the difficulty law enforcement had to catch the crooks.

The ill wind of war
The depression took hold in other countries and the rise of nationalism and fascism in some countries created conditions for war. When the period of Jupiter rolled around in the SAMVA USA chart, in April 1937, the winds of war had begun to blow in Europe and Asia. The Spanish Civil War broke out in July 1936, the second Sino-Japanese war started in July 1937 and the Third Reich absorbed Austria in April 1938 and Czech Sudentenland in September 1938. This is also consistent with the chart as Jupiter rules the 6th house of conflict and is in mutual aspect with the Moon as 1st lord of self in the 11th house of hopes and ideals. This gives the US a warrior like disposition, such that it never backs down from a provocation. This 16 year period saw the US enter World War II after Japan attacked the Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The USA also entered the Korean War in June 1950. In both wars it was fighting for its ideals.

The good news
If we want to draw parallels to the present time, we can immediately spot something good to say. While the present financial crisis reflects the natal placement of Rahu in the chart, it has been brought out due to a bubble in the housing market and the euphoria of the Roaring Twenties was likely not attained, although speculation became rife and extravagant displays of wealth and excess developed as they did during the Gilded Age. As the crisis is occurring during the Venus major period, which will in a few years be replaced by the period of a strong and propitious Sun, this suggests the economic and financial situation will not become nearly as dire in the USA in coming years as it was in the 1930s. Moreover, the US is not expected be to dragged into a major war in this or the coming major period as it was during the Jupiter period beginning in the late 1930s.

2010: An economic odyssey
That said, the transits in 2010 will continue difficult for the USA, with further financial problems likely during the year, especially the summer months. Moreover, the transits do not exclude the possibility of some military conflict or acts of violence. Importantly, the outlook for the US economy in coming decades is fundamentally better than it was at the beginning of the 1930s.

It is clear that the major issues during the 18 year period in question were focused on the indications of this (invisible) planetary entity, Rahu, including greed, excess, intoxicants, losening of morals and crime - or materialism in general. Interestingly, historian Paul Johnston remarked in his work, the "Modern Age" that this age is considered to have begun in 1919 with the scientific proof of Einstein's Theory of Relativity. This gives another good fit with what would have been expected in the Rahu period that man began to consider himself above the creation itself.


The Prohibition in the USA (1920-1933)
Speakeasy clubs during Prohibition
Flappers of the 1920s
Al Capone, notorious crime boss (1923-1931)
Great Depression of the 1930s

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