George Soros: The Bad News About Hedge Funds

Do you know who George Soros is? Don’t feel bad if you don’t. The Hungarian-born investor periodically makes headlines in the financial press. He was quite outspoken about free markets in the late 1980s and early 1990s, after the fall of the Iron Curtain. But he is hardly a household name.

Today, the financier, who was born Aug. 12, 1930, was on Capitol Hill testifying about hedge funds. Here’s the natal chart of Soros from something called the Magi Society and an interesting article about how he got clobbered during a Saturn transit. It was actually in April 2000, when Jupiter was making a conjunction with Saturn in Taurus, squaring Soros’ natal Leo Sun.

I’m wondering whether last night’s full Moon at 21 degrees of Taurus, which also squared the legendary investor’s Sun, is the reason why he was ordered to appear in front of Congress.

He told legislators that hedge funds, which are investment vehicles that are essentially free of government regulation and place bets in both directions (long and short) on equities and commodities, will be “decimated” by the current financial crisis. A story from the Times of London appears here about Soros’ day on the Hill.

Like Warren Buffett, another billionaire, Soros has a Jupiter/Pluto conjunction in Cancer that ties in heavily with the U.S. chart.

Check Out the Mindful Walker!

Susan DeMark, a friend of mine with a nearly exact opposition of Mercury in Capricorn and Uranus in Cancer, has launched a new Web site called Mindful Walker. I quietly added it to my blogroll about a week ago, but now Susan’s ready to spread the word about her new “baby.”

I think Susan’s timing is perfect. With Pluto about to move into Capricorn, we’ll be taking time to notice and enjoy our surroundings, from Manhattan’s Fred R. French Building to the ‘Gunks of New Paltz, N.Y., to use two examples that are near and dear to Susan’s heart.

Susan has lots of plans for Mindful Walker. She told friends in an e-mail: “I’ll be adding photos within posts, other media and interactivity, Google map links, Google ads, etc… My plan is to expand in Phase 2.0 during the coming year into possibilities like podcasts and/or video. I have different content conceptions that I will build on, like 15-minute walks, “5 Top” this and that, and children’s walks.”

What I’m really excited about, is the section of her Web site called “Mindful Activist,” which she says “will promote various issues and encourage actions people can take (like saving the world from sprawl).” Can you tell that Susan is a community-oriented Aquarian?

Next year, when Jupiter is in Aquarius, Susan plans to introduce Mindful Walker excursions and workshops. Kudos to you, Susan.

David vs. David, Part II

Remember earlier this year how David Cook and David Archuleta were vying to be the next American Idol?

I wasn’t as lucky in calling that contest as I was in picking the Philadelphia Phillies over the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series. I thought Archuleta would win by a hair. But my friend and commenter Chris got it right by looking at the asteroid Juno.

Now, the two Davids are duking it out on the airwaves with their rival debut albums, according to the New York Post.

Back on May 16, when I wrote about the two singers, they both had their progressed Suns close to 24 degrees of Capricorn, even though Cook is a Sagittarius and Archuleta is a Capricorn and they were born eight years apart.

Of course, a few months later their Suns are still moving in synch. Here’s Archuleta’s chart, courtesy of Astrodienst, with transits and progressions as of Nov. 2. And here’s Cook’s horoscope, with the same parameters.

As transiting Jupiter closes in on their respective progressed Suns, both Davids should be topping the charts through the end of the year. One might say their continued “rivalry” will help them both.

We’re Partying Like It’s 1980

A couple of interesting factoids: The last time the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series was in 1980. That was 28 years ago, which is a Saturn cycle. The Phils are celebrating the Saturn return of their last world championship by winning another.

Also, in today’s headlines about the economic news, there are a few references to 1980. Here’s what USA Today says about yesterday’s gross domestic product report: “Consumer spending, two-thirds of economic activity, plummeted at a 3.1% rate — the steepest fall since 1980.”

Macintoshes for McCain? Umbrellas for Obama?

Here’s a link to a story saying that bad weather on Election Day would favor GOP Presidential candidate John McCain.

When you consider that destructive Mars in water sign Scorpio is going to be squaring the stellium of Neptune, North Node, and Chiron in Aquarius at the same time Saturn in Virgo will be opposing Uranus in Pisces, storms are a strong possibility.

Forget the bailouts for the banks and the possibility of a second stimulus check. The ultimate get-out-the-vote incentive this Election Day could be rain gear. I can see fashionable trench coats from Brooks Brothers paid for by the Republican National Committee and bright blue ponchos emblazoned with an “O” that fold up into fannypacks for the Democrats.

A hard rain’s a gonna fall, as Mr. Dylan once sang.

Mother of All Bailouts Rejected; Now What?

The House of Representatives voted against Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s plan to bail out Wall Street and the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 777 points today, Sept. 29. This is a record in the number of points lost in a single day, though not a record in percentage terms.

On the one hand, we’re tempted to celebrate because the fat cats were defeated by Congress. But the reality is that many Americans have pensions, retirement, and mutual funds that own stocks. A lot of retirees have been hurt by the demise of seemingly safe financial companies such as Washington Mutual because they bought the shares for the rich dividends.

As the old saying on Wall Street goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Even if we weren’t raking in the dough, some wealth was trickling down to us from the orgy of debt and speculation, though it may have been nothing more than a government stimulus check.

It’s the least the Republicans could do after having allowed corporations to fleece us in a manner that James Galbraith (son of famed economist John Kenneth Galbraith) has labeled “predatory capitalism” in his new book The Predatory State.

Given that Mercury is retrograde, it’s a good thing the so-called rescue plan wasn’t approved. Anything signed during the period when the Winged Messenger appears to be moving backward from the perspective of Earthlings would have to be revised down the road anyway.

Still, economist Nouriel Roubini is warning that the chance of a total financial meltdown is greater than ever and the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team is being deployed stateside as of Oct. 1, a military buildup ahead of the election that has pundits and ordinary citizens alike concerned.

One blog, UrbanSurvival.com has been talking for some time about a “hot date” of Oct. 7 for an event that will disrupt the U.S.

What are we to make of it all?

As someone who lived through the Y2K buildup and letdown, I’m always leery of dates when the world is going to end or hell is going to freeze over. Having said that, I didn’t live through the Depression, and I’ve never seen a run on a bank. Gas lines, yes, in 1979.

I think the political and financial gridlock we’re experiencing demonstrates the weakness of American-style democracy. If we were in Britain, Germany, Italy, or Israel, there would be a no-confidence vote and Bush and Cheney would be sent packing. Immediately, McCain and Obama would jockey to form a new government, based on the relative strength of Republicans and Democrats in the two chambers, and we’d start all over again.

Instead, we’re stuck with these jokers until Jan. 20 while the markets melt down. The fact is the “no” vote on the bailout proposal is a no-confidence vote for the Bush Administration and its policies. The media is reporting that e-mail and phone calls are running 100-to-1 against the $700 billion plan.

The period we’re in reminds me of when President Nixon had to take the U.S. off the gold standard in August, 1971. He himself would be forced to resign three years later. This de-linking of the dollar and bullion marked the end of the Bretton Woods agreement, a world financial system dominated by the U.S. that was set up in the wake of World War II.

Economists debate about whether we’re in Bretton Woods II or III, but the original chart still bears looking at, if you ask me. It’s set for noon in Washington on Dec. 27, 1945, the day the agreements were signed, with transits of today.

Some would argue that Bretton Woods is already dead and gone. Here’s my humble opinion: The dangers posed by a U.S. financial meltdown are so great that the Group of Eight industrialized powers and the leaders of other key emerging economies such as India, China, and Brazil need to start hammering out the sequel to Bretton Woods. Incidentally, the accord got its name from the town in New Hampshire where the negotiations to form the International Monetary System took place for three weeks in July, 1944.

Even if a modified form of the bailout is approved after Mercury goes direct on Oct. 15, you can see from the Bretton Woods chart that it will soon be “transformed” (read destroyed and reborn) as Pluto in Capricorn goes over its Sun. You’ve heard it all before, but the current economic unraveling in the U.S. and Britain, which also got hooked on debt, is leading up to the Cardinal Climax. That’s when Uranus/Pluto/Saturn will form a T-square in the early degrees of cardinal signs in 2010.

As the Uranus in the New Moon in Libra chart of Sept. 29 indicated, we’re in for some surprises in the short term. Economic panic is possible, though not likely. In any event, the process of cleaning up all the bad debts that are weighing down U.S. financial institutions is going to take years. Just ask the Japanese. They spent 14 years in an economic deep freeze after their real estate bubble burst and the Nikkei crashed in 1991.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We can learn a lot from the Japanese in terms of living in a civilized fashion while conserving our resources and saving for the future. I just don’t think this regimen is what the “Live Free or Die” Republican driving the Ford F-150 pickup had in mind when he voted for George W. Bush.

Haiti’s Heartbreak: Forgotten After Four Hurricanes

This is a post I’ve meaning to write ever since I heard my hero Dr. Paul Farmer on the radio a couple of weeks ago.

I know we’ve had our storms here in the Gulf of Mexico and on Wall Street, but Haiti has been hit by four consecutive hurricanes — Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike.

Mia Farrow has a piece up on CNN.com about her recent visit to Haiti as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador that tells the story.

If you want to help and you want to make sure that your dollars (battered though they may be) go directly to help Haitians, please contribute to Dr. Farmer’s Partners in Health. The nonprofit organization provides free healthcare to a half-million Haitians living in the Central Highlands through Zanmi Lasante (Creole for “Partners in Health”).

Like Marjorie Orr, I can’t gain a lot of insight by looking at the Independence Chart for Haiti. She’s got an earlier chart that she’s been studying that seems to reflect the extreme weather and suffering.

With the Independence Chart, Pluto has been trining the Moon in Leo, which squares Neptune in Scorpio natally. Even though a trine is viewed as a favorable aspect, you have to look at the planets involved and their natal aspects, I believe.

Here’s the chart for Haiti, thanks to Astrodienst. Transiting Jupiter is squaring natal Uranus in Libra so one gets a sense of how volatile the situation is there.

Earlier this year, there were riots in Haiti about rising food prices. According to Farrow and Farmer, the situation is quite desperate now because the impoverished government has no resources to provide food, water, and medicine in the wake of the hurricanes.

I know that I’m not alone in suffering from disaster fatigue these days. But how can the richest country in the Western Hemisphere turn its back on the poorest one?

Helen Thomas, Queen of the White House Correspondents

Back on Aug. 4, when it was Barack Obama’s birthday and I was busily calculating his solar return, my tipster Gastriques was prodding me to look at the chart of longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas, another Leo born Aug. 4.

I’m catching up with Learning Curve on the Ecliptic and I see this weekend that she featured Thomas as the first in a series of “superwomen” that she plans to write about on Saturdays. So, here you go, Gastriques. Here’s everything you wanted to know about Helen Thomas, together with her natal chart.

So, in true Cindy Adams style, I’ll say: Don’t say I never did anything for you! (I know you wouldn’t, but it’s fun to channel Cindy!)

Fannie and Freddie: More Welfare for Wall Street

Interesting that we’re hearing the feds are going to take over mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on the eve of Jupiter going direct in Capricorn. Jupiter is expansion and Capricorn rules the financial establishment.

The lingo Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is using is “conservatorship,” but in reality the mortgage outfits are being nationalized — by a Republican Administration.

As many financial commentators have noted, these stopgap measures to prop up the U.S. financial system are merely postponing the day of reckoning. The Fannie/Freddie bailout is going to benefit the mostly institutional holders of its bonds and mortgage-backed securities, but owners of its common shares are still at risk.

If you’re looking for more detail on the bailout from a Wall Street source, here’s a link to my favorite money maven Barry Ritholtz.

One of my first posts when I started writing this blog on Mar. 17 made the link between Jupiter in Capricorn and the efforts of the U.S. government to avert a financial crisis by rescuing Bear Stearns.

Back then, Pluto was making its test-drive in Cap. Now, it’s back in Sagittarius and going direct. Hold on to your hats! This fall’s financial roller-coaster ride is just beginning!

Reading the Tea Leaves on Wall Street

Lest you think I’m on a Rocky Mountain High, I’ve decided to move my focus from the Democratic National Convention in Denver over to the corner of Broad and Wall streets in Lower Manhattan. Once upon a time a buttonwood tree grew on Broad Street and a group of brokers vowed to trade exclusively with each other. The New York Stock Exchange is the modern-day embodiment of that pact.

Now that the Sun has moved into Virgo, the market isn’t quite as ebullient as it was late last week, when the Sun was in late Leo making a powerful trine to Pluto.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 240 points today, to 11,386.25. As Ray Merriman points out in his column this week, there’s still some upside potential next month because of trines between Jupiter and planets in Virgo, not to mention the Jupiter station on Sept. 7. That’s the astrological outlook.

From a technical standpoint, a key support level is 10,739, set back in July 2006. Here’s the Yahoo five-year chart for the Dow Jones.

Those who follow stock charts, as opposed to astrological charts, will tell you that if the Dow breaks through that 10,739 threshold, look out below. I’d like to point out here that any investment advice offered on this blog is for entertainment purposes only.

If you want to be really entertained by economic writing, Ellen Simon at the AP has got a funny little story about Wall Street learning its ABCs.

I wrote something myself about the possibility of a W-shaped recession. You can read it here.