The View from Brazil: The Day Gian Paul Met Bernie Madoff

By now, you would have to be living off the grid to not know that Bernard L. Madoff, former chairman of the NASDAQ Stock Market, has been accused of perpetrating the biggest financial fraud of all time — a Ponzi scheme that involved $50 billion. Yes, that’s billion, folks.

Fortunately for Astrology Mundo, our intrepid Brazil bureau chief, Gian Paul, has filed a report about the day he met the man in question. As you’ll see, there’s a bit of a Saturn-return angle to the story. Over to you, Gian Paul:

Now that the papers are full of Bernard Madoff’s story, with the various financial collapses occurring like dominoes, I recall that I met the man in mid-October 1979. Then, Saturn was at the same position where it is today, 21 degrees, 30 minutes of Virgo.

If I remember, it’s because of two things: My then-boss had no time, so he asked me to take care of Madoff, who was visiting Switzerland, and even to take him out for lunch.

As I already had invited a friend for lunch, I had to combine the two. My friend Salim is an Iraqi Jew and a shrewd investor, so I thought that the two would get along.

And it turned out, it was a good lunch. Everybody enjoyed it. Bernard Madoff was a very affable man indeed.

Only, after Madoff left, my friend remarked that Maddox (that’s how he had understood his name) may be a “wolf hiding in sheep’s clothing.”

In jest, I remember having replied: “Maybe he is a ‘Mad Ox.'” After all, it was kind of nuts to try to sell over-the-counter stocks to Swiss institutions in those more conservative days. This was before premier high-tech companies such as Google chose to list on NASDAQ instead of the New York Stock Exchange.

Looking through the ephemeris, I guess that I must have met Madoff on Oct. 16 or 17, 1979. Question: After what has happened to him, why did the “Mad Ox” not join friends in similar circumstances in Monte Carlo, the haven for the rich who have run afoul of the law? It makes me think that after all he is not totally dishonest, maybe slightly mad…

Thanks, Gian Paul. As always, I appreciate your sense of humor and word play. Now, does anyone in the blogosphere have Madoff’s birth data?

Eliot Spitzer’s New Career

Perfect for a Gemini: Former New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer is reinventing himself. This time around, he’s a journalist. Here’s a link to Spitzer’s new column in Slate.

Here’s his chart, courtesy of the Reluctant Astrologer. You’ll notice that transiting Mercury in Sag is on Spitzer’s descendant. By birth, the Winged Messenger is in Gemini and is conjunct Spitzer’s Sun in the first house.

Is Alan Greenspan to Blame for the Bubbles?

Yesterday, commenter Gian Paul suggested that Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld is being singled out unfairly as a scapegoat for Wall Street’s woes.

As I noted in my post yesterday, Fuld may be the poster boy for the Street’s greed, but the angry mob may have a bigger fish to fry: Pisces Alan Greenspan, who served as chairman of the Federal Reserve for 18 years.

Greenspan’s tenure (1987-2006) coincided with two bubbles — one in Internet stocks and the other in real estate. The bursting of the real estate bubble is the trigger for the current financial crisis. Here’s Greenspan’s chart, courtesy of Astrodienst.

It’s set for noon on March 6, 1926 in New York because the time of birth is unknown. Interesting that the Father of Easy Money has a generous Venus/Jupiter conjunction in Aquarius broadly opposed by bubble-oriented Neptune in Leo.

As Neptune in Aquarius was transiting his Venus/Jupiter combo in technology-oriented Aquarius, Greenspan became besotted with the idea that tech had created massive improvements in productivity that were not being reported in the official figures. This gave birth to the notion of the New Economy.

Of course, who could blame Greenspan for not recognizing that the Internet would give us new ways to waste time, say by watching Tina Fey’s imitation of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live via You Tube? While we’re on that topic, wasn’t Queen Latifah awesome in her spoof of Gwen Ifill?

(BTW, You Tube has taken the Fey debate video down, citing copyright issues by NBC Universal, which airs SNL. Guess we’ll have to do some work today.)

Anyway, I’ve been reading a trenchant indictment of Greenspan by William Fleckenstein called Greenspan’s Bubbles: The Age of Ignorance at the Federal Reserve that accuses him of self-delusion in his memoir The Age of Turbulence. Can you imagine: a Pisces guilty of self-delusion?

Other than the house of cards collapsing on Wall Street, what’s behind the attacks on Greenspan’s legacy? Saturn in Virgo is currently opposing his natal Sun.

So what if Greenspan didn’t do his duty as Fed chairman by taking away the proverbial punch bowl before the party got too wild? Well, we’re waking up to a massive hangover, in this case once deferred if Greenspan’s critics are correct in their allegation that he dealt with the bursting of the dot-com bubble by creating another bubble in real estate. So consider it a double-whammy of a hangover.

If you’re interested in this school of thought, check out The Mess That Greenspan Made, a blog that blames the former Fed chairman for just about everything, except perhaps childhood obesity.

Since I wrote this post, The New York Times has published an article questioning Greenspan’s laissez-faire attitude toward derivative instruments. The heat is on.

Sorry, Mr. Greenspan, I think I’m going to file this post under “Fallen Heroes.”

Eliot Spitzer Tests the Water

As astrologers, we know that we’ll be hearing from folks from our past under a Mercury retrograde. That also applies to public figures that we don’t know personally, who can make a comeback under Merc retro.

To wit: Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York state, is featured a Q&A in the Sept. 25 week’s edition of Time Out New York. Spitzer is one of the magazine’s “New York 40.”

This makes sense as Spitzer is a Gemini, which is ruled by Mercury. The chart comes from The Reluctant Astrologer, which like Astrology Mundo uses the Regulus template designed by Ben Millbanks at Binary Moon. (Thanks again, Ben!) Check out Reluctant’s post on Spitzer.

Spitzer, as you may recall, made a lot of enemies on Wall Street by cracking down on financial shenanigans before being elected governor of New York in what seemed to be a unanimous vote. That’s how admired the guy was by the public.

Then, in March, right before I started Astrology Mundo, Spitzer was caught up in a call girl scandal and resigned to focus on his heartbroken family and so that the wheels of government could start turning again.

The specter of “Mr. Clean” being undone by a femme fatale brought operations in Albany, New York’s capital, to a complete halt as politicos and civil servants stopped working to speculate on Spitzer’s future and to indulge in a little schadenfreude, the great German word that means happiness over someone else’s misfortune. Spitzer was succeeded by his lieutenant, David Paterson, an African-American who is legally blind.

I’m not saying Spitzer’s poised for a comeback, but in the midst of the financial meltdown, I’ve seen some references in blogs to “Eliot Spitzer, where are you when we need you?”

I’m not going to defend Spitzer’s stupidity or hubris, but I do think he may ultimately rehabilitate himself. Based on astrology, he still faces some upheaval. The Uranus/Saturn opposition of Election Day squares his Gemini Sun, a formula that Reinhold Ebertin, in The Combination of Stellar Influences, says can result in “physical exposure to severe tests of strength, the power of resistance, and separation.”

I created a new category for Spitzer: “Fallen Heroes.”