Has Jim Rogers Been Reading Jim Kunstler?

Check out this story from CNBC, where legendary commodity investor Jim Rogers says that he’s bought land and started farming. I’ll confess I haven’t read the whole story yet, but I was expecting Rogers to advise us to buy gold.

Here’s my thinking on bullion: The approaching conjunction of Jupiter and Neptune in Aquarius opposes Leo, the sign that rules gold. An Aquarius stellium helped make Leos India (Slumdog Millionaire) and Sean Penn (Milk) winners at the Oscars. I’m betting it will do the same thing for gold.

In case, you don’t know who Jim Kunstler is, check out his site. The peak oil guru, who was recently profiled by The New Yorker, envisions a world where food will be grown locally — by you and me!

Well, the U.S. started as a nation of gentleman farmers back when Pluto was last in Capricorn. Maybe we’re going back to the future.

Saturn in Virgo: The Return of the Skinheads?

I spent part of the last transit of Saturn through Virgo (1979-1981) in London, where I was a student and held a variety of odd jobs under the table because I didn’t have a work permit.

Rebuffing opportunities to join London’s ubiquitous sex trade, I was able to eke out an existence without turning tricks by laboring as a barmaid, a nanny, and a word processor. In fact, one owner of an office-temp agency seemed genuinely surprised that I would rather type up the specs for an architectural project for 5 quid an hour than make a quick tenner performing a sex act.

Another place I toiled was a consulting firm that was conducting a study on the fallout of the deindustrialization of the North of England. British readers may recall how the value of sterling soared in 1980 and then plummeted in 1981, as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the Bank of England sought to rein in inflation. The rising pound helped drive industry out of Britain to lower-cost destinations because it made wages expensive relative to other places in the world. Britain’s trade unions are notoriously resistant to change, which may have accelerated the exodus of jobs.

I remember a cartoon in one of the British papers in 1981 had a man dressed up as a robot going off to work. When his wife asks what he’s doing, he replies, “I don’t want to get the sack at Leyland,” a British carmaker that was investing in robots for its assembly line.

Ever seen The Italian Job with Michael Caine? Besides Caine, the stars of the 1969 film are Austin Mini Coopers. The sun was already setting on British industry by the late 1960s, but there was a time when Made in Britain was synonymous with quality and craftsmanship. It still is for the newly rich Chinese and Indians who are buying Bentleys.

Back when I was in London, sheikhs who’d gotten rich from the oil shock of 1979 were fond of taking their entourage to shop at Harrods. These days, it’s the Russian oligarchs who are enjoying the best that Britain has to offer, even to the point of buying soccer teams, the way that Roman Abramovich has with the Chelsea Football Club.

Owning a football club is the ultimate status symbol in England. As Britain has surrendered its hegemony in world politics and its manufacturing prowess, the pride of its citizens is firmly fixed on the one arena where the country is still a dominant player — soccer. Of course, finance, literature, theater, and music are other sectors where Britannia often rules.

Back when Russia was still in the iron grip of communism and a command economy, Saturn in Virgo was decimating the working class in the U.K. This helped fuel the punk rock movement, whose martyrs were Sid Vicious and his American girlfriend Nancy Spungen. Oddly enough, Vicious and Spungen died on Feb. 2, 1979, the day after a revolution installed a theocracy in Iran.

Vicious and his band the Sex Pistols mocked the British class system, with royalty at its pinnacle, in their classic God Save the Queen.

The class rage embodied in the punk cultural movement was fueled by the loss of meaningful work and loss of faith in the future. The British class system functioned efficiently, if unfairly, when there were jobs for the working class, who didn’t have much mobility in the calcified structure of Britain’s social and economic pecking order.

When I lived in London, louts and yabbos shaved their heads and went “Paki-bashing,” or beating up immigrants of color. Some of these alienated British youth called themselves “skinheads.” They preached white supremacy and formed a dangerous fringe political movement that exists to this day.

Flash forward to Upstate New York in 2008. Saturn is once again in Virgo and manufacturing jobs have been scarce for some time in the area, a trend much commented upon by blogger and author Jim Kunstler, who lives in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

A former college comrade who considers himself a “thinking conservative,” was recently harassed with racial epithets while riding his bike. In his blog post, he wonders why he is being called the “N” word when he’s white and why hooligans are screaming “Obama Sucks” at him.

As the London consulting firm where I worked during the summer of 1981, the study I typeset carefully documented the side effects of unemployment — alcoholism, drug addiction, and violence. Rage at not having work finds a target — whether it be “Pakis” in London, a presumed Obama supporter on a fancy bicycle in Albany, or Jews in Nazi Germany.

The dangers of the deindustrialization of America, which has been going on since the last time Saturn was in Virgo, are becoming quite apparent now that our financial and housing bubbles have burst.

Any economist can tell you that wages have been stagnant in the U.S. for years. We’ve only managed to persuade ourselves that our standard of living has been increasing by working more hours and borrowing more money. Britain’s class lines blurred a bit under Tony Blair’s Labor government, but debt was the lubricant that made mobility possible on the other side of the Atlantic.

Now that credit is drying up and the only jobs to be found for working-class Americans are at Wal-Mart or in the U.S. Army fighting an endless war on terrorism, a new generation of angry young men is starting to awaken. Will the outlet for their aggression be a new musical movement or a string of hate crimes?

This AP story highlights the rise of racism in the runup to the election.

Jim Kunstler Poses the Question of the Hour

I just moseyed over to Jim Kunstler’s site, to see what my favorite post-oil guru has to say about today’s market meltdown.

Alas, he posted this morning before the markets opened so I couldn’t get his read on the 500-point “haircut” that the Dow Jones Industrial Average took today.

Still, Kunstler ponders the question that’s been vexing me for some time:

“I wish I knew whether this extravaganza of ruin might settle the question as to whether America goes into hyperinflation or implacable deflation, but the net effect is that money is leaving the system in big gobs.” (italics mine)

As Kunstler and other pundits rightly note, we’re in a debt-deflation cycle similar to one that occurred during the Great Depression and that was memorialized by economist Irving Fisher.

An aside here: Iowe money manager Michael Belkin a thank-you for teaching me about Fisher. You may recall that Belkin called the December 1989 high of the Nikkei index back when he was working with Laszlo Birinyi Jr. at Salomon Brothers. Lots of name-dropping here, I know, but what can I say? I’m a groupie for economists.

Fisher had some wacky theories about nutrition and breeding, but his downfall was supporting Herbert Hoover, a popular President whose place in history was scuttled by the Great Crash of 1929 and his indifference to the suffering of ordinary Americans who assembled in tent cities dubbed “Hoovervilles.”

Like Hoover, Fisher failed to comprehend what was happening in 1929. According to the Wiki, “Fisher was so discredited by his 1929 pronouncements and by the failure of a firm he had started that few people took notice of his debt-deflation analysis of the Depression.”

Basically, in a debt-deflation period, prices of assets decline because people are forced to sell them at fire-sale prices in order to “service” their crippling debt, which is actually becoming more onerous due to deflation.

The explosion of U.S. debt has led to the deflation of assets. We can all see that. But look at the astrological picture for the U.S. in 2009, the conjunction of Jupiter/Neptune in Aquarius on the U.S. Moon, which I’ve posited is a “depression of the populace,” if not the economy. The potential for a flip-flop exists: We could move from deflation to hyperinflation, mostly as the result of a devaluation of the dollar. (Could is the operative word here.)

Talk to the Germans who lived through the 1920s and those who were there when the Deutsche Mark was introduced after World War II. Have a chat with the Argentinians, who saw their currency devalued 300% in 2002 when the government ended the 1-for-1 exchange rate between the peso and the dollar, and the Argentinian peso moved to 4 to 1 dollar in the free market.

What do the survivors say? The people who landed on their feet were those who owned land and property.

As someone who bought real estate in August, 2005, at the high of the market, I’m constantly wondering whether I should get out before prices really fall, assuming a sale is an option. But then another voice says: “What happens when the dollar is worthless?” So my husband and I are doing the best we can to hang on to our little shack.

Saturn in Virgo: Handmade Nation

Folks, something really big is happening out there. As usual, I’m late to the party and I’m going to wax nostalgic about my Army brat childhood somewhere in this post.

First, kudos to Gastriques, my faithful tipster, who sent me a link a few weeks ago about Etsy, a eBay for handmade crafts. Duly noted, but not yet a trend in my mind. Then, last Thursday, while I was reading The New York Times (which used to benefit from the insight of Gastriques), I noticed an article in the Home section about the modern-day mother of Handmade Nation: a crafty chick called Faythe Levine.

So far, so good. Then I noticed that Jim Kunstler, my guru on the post-oil future, has written a book called World Made by Hand, a novel about an apocalyptic future where we’re not knitting sweaters for fun or to express our creativity. Handmade Nation, World Made by Hand: I sense a trend here.

Today, I stopped on Main Street in Beacon, N.Y., to participate in our “Second Saturday,” where there are always lots of gallery openings and other interesting happenings (as they used to say on Mod Squad. I stopped by Paper Presence to admire the window full of origami cranes, a continuation of the dream of Hiroshima victim Sadako Sasaki, and then stepped into a garage-cum-workshop with saws, hammers, and other tools artistically displayed on the wall.

This was the venue of the Handmade Calvacade of Etsy vendors that rolled into Beacon. The vendors were mostly hipsters from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who had to restrain themselves from rolling their eyes when I asked: “What’s Etsy?” Of course, I knew, but the journalist in me had to play dumb to get information. I bought a couple of really cool tote bags made from embossed Indian burlap sacks and decorated with ribbon and beads.

The Handmade Calvacade seems to be a younger, groovier version of the craft bazaar that is well-known to church ladies and militry wives. I remember in the early Seventies when my Mom complained that the general’s wife at Fort Riley, Kans. was snubbing her because she didn’t knit enough hats for the Officers Wives Club’s Christmas bazaar. Yes, crafty folks can get catty and petty.

What’s driving all this hipster interest in making things by hand? It’s definitely Saturn in Virgo, which is fueling an appreciation for craftsmanship. But I believe this trend is being electrified by the opposition with Uranus in Pisces. By buying something handmade at Etsy, I’m declaring to the world that I’ve rejected the crap at the mall in favor of unique things made by hand, and I’m on the cutting edge.

The handmade movement seems a little more gritty and low-budget than the upscale arts and crafts exhibition held in places like Lincoln Center and Grand Central Terminal in New York. It also seems more political than artsy-fartsy.

Making things by hand can indeed be revolutionary. Think of Gandhi with his spinning wheel, exhorting Indians to reject the textiles made in British mills.

Who is the loser in the handmade movement? Wal-Mart, with all its cheesy Chinese goods. Who is the winner? Wal-Mart, the only store in my neighborhood where you can still buy fabric by the yard, an embroidery hoop, thread, and other tools of the crafty trades.

Let me leave you with my reminiscence of the coolest mall I ever visited. It was in Japan, where peak shopping experiences abound. The mall that blew my mind was near Mount Aso, Japan’s largest active volcano. This was a place where you could drop in unannounced and learn how to make handmade paper, arrange flowers, or do calligraphy. Yes, I was a consumer. I was spending money. But after two or so hours, I left with something I had made by hand.

What did the adults do with the kids? Well, this crafts center mall had day care, a working farm, and a petting zoo!

I’ve got to study Japan’s chart, but I think this nation epitomizes the yen (pun intended!) to make something by hand. I also think the Land of the Rising Sun has a great appreciation for nature and generally knows how to live in a civilized fashion, though I can do without the special slippers for the loo.

I’ve written previously about the Japanese version of Ikea, a store called Muji, which I think epitomizes Saturn in Virgo.

Obviously, the crafts revival has been percolating for quite while in the U.S. It never went out of fashion if you were a member of 4-H and working on a quilt for the county fair. But the handmade movement seems ready to go mainstream in a big way.

What are you making by hand? It’s not too early to start making your holiday gifts because I’m predicting this will be a Handmade Christmas, Yuletide, Saturnalia, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa.

Saturn Plus Uranus Equals Regeneration

I’ve been writing a fair amount about the deindustrialization of America, a topic that nobody does better than Jim Kunstler, and the opportunity for change being created by the upcoming Saturn/Uranus opposition in Virgo/Pisces.

Back in the Sixties, the last time we had a Saturn/Uranus opposition, the Beatles were singing, “You say you want a revolution.” This time around, I don’t think we need a revolution. We need something else.

In my humble opinion (IMHO, as the text generation says for short) what we need is regeneration. That’s my word for the Saturn/Uranus opposition that is exact on Election Day. It’s a word used a lot in connection with New Orleans following the city’s destruction by Hurricane Katrina.

We need to regenerate our broken-down machines and factories. We need powerful car batteries that will regenerate when we turn them off. We need a medical breakthrough that will allow the limbs that have been lost by our soldiers to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to regenerate themselves.

Regenerate — before it’s too late!

After I posted this, I realized that the last time Saturn and Uranus were opposing each other, Pluto in Virgo was in the picture, making a conjunction to Uranus. Upon further consideration, we’ll probably need Pluto this time around to get regeneration off the ground.

We get a little window from Election Day till Thanksgiving Day when Pluto in Sagittarius is close to the Saturn/Uranus opposition in Virgo/Pisces. But the big chance comes with the so-called cardinal climax in 2010, when Uranus, Pluto, and Saturn form a T-square in the early degrees of cardinal signs.

That’s when everyone will be begging for regeneration.

The August 16 Eclipse: Sell, Sell, Sell!

As my bio states on the “About” page, I’m not a registered investment adviser and any financial advice dispensed here is for entertainment purposes. Got that?

Having repeated my boilerplate for the Securities and Exchange Commission, I want to say that if there were ever a time to move out of stocks and into cash, this is it.

Even with the recent uptick in the U.S. dollar, I’m not sure that dollars are the place to keep your cash, but that’s another post. (See “The Word at UAC in Denver: The Dollar is Toast.”)

The Aug. 16 eclipse at 26 degrees of Aquarius looks very bad for Wall Street, not the least because it squares the natal Sun of the New York Stock Exchange chart. The Neptune conjunct Moon in Aquarius in the second house of resources and opposing the Sun in the eighth house of other people’s money suggests dissolution and deception down on the corner of Broad and Wall.

Perhaps the group that my financial friends call the “Plunge Protection Committee” has run out of tricks to keep the market aloft. A number of commentators including Jim Kunstler have compared today’s economy to the Wile E. Coyote cartoon where it takes him a while to figure out that he’s run off the cliff.

Nobody says it better than Jude’s Threshold in this post.

Market maven Ray Merriman notes there is a nice Venus/Jupiter trine on Aug. 16, but he doesn’t think it offsets the powerful Sun oppose Neptune in the eclipse chart. You’ll find his market commentary for this week here.

This is not a forecast for short-term traders, mind you. The trines between Jupiter and a bevy of planets in Virgo could keep the market above 11,000 well into October. Savvy traders always follow Merriman. This call to cash is for the rest of us, those of us who don’t want our 401(k)s to get trimmed by a third by yearend.

Hotter Than July

My laptop seems to be withstanding temperatures of close to 100 degrees (I know that’s cool compared to the temps our troops are facing in Iraq), but my brain has turned to mush. I’ll also admit to being stunned by the events in the financial markets this week — the run on IndyMac Bank, mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac being bailed out by the Fed, Google missing its earnings forecasts, and General Motors cutting its dividend in half, to name just a few.

Interesting that a bank with “Indy” in its name failed while the asteroid Indiana is traveling close to Neptune, the planet of dissolution. For more about the asteroid Indiana, please see https://astrologymundo.wordpress.com/2008/05/23/bringing-back-the-glory-days-of-the-indy-500/

Closer to home, several tech-savvy colleagues were let go at my day job, while less accomplished performers get to stay on. The unfairness of it floors me.

Being a Cancer Moon, I respond to unsettling news by getting out my well-thumbed Louisana cookbooks and cooking, heat be damned. You haven’t lived until you’ve tasted Cajun deviled eggs, which rely on sweet relish, deviled ham, and mustard instead of mayo, and are topped with a pimiento-stuffed olive and a sprinkling of paprika. The recipe comes from Terry Thompson’s Cajun Creole Cooking.

What I love about cooking is predictability. Sure, there are disasters every now and then, but basically if you follow the directions, you get what is promised in the picture. If only life were so simple!

If you want to get really depressed, read Jim Kunstler’s post on Wile E. Coyote Nation: http://jameshowardkunstler.typepad.com/

Meanwhile, I’m off to the farmers’ market, another cure for anything that ails me. I’m too scared right now to read Ray Merriman’s weekly post.