Remembering Kondratiev, the Martyr Economist

Back in the early 1990s, when Uranus and Neptune were conjunct in Capricorn, I became quite interested in the work of Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev (also spelled Kondratieff), who was born March 4, 1892 in Kostroma, Russia..

How about that? I’m writing about Kondratiev the day before the anniversary of his death, Sept. 17, 1938.

Kondratiev got in trouble with his Marxist bosses for positing the existence of a “long wave” that surfaced every 60 years in capitalism. The Marxists believed that capitalism was hurtling toward its end, not that it was an enduring system racked by periodic turmoil. As a result, Kondratiev suffered for his theory. He was sent to the dreaded Gulag and was sentenced to death.

As this chart from Astrodienst (with transits of today) shows, Kondratiev was a visionary Pisces Sun conjunct Mercury. He had a T-square in mutable signs — Jupiter in Pisces opposing Saturn in Virgo both square Mars in Sagittarius.

This is a personal observation, but I’ve noticed Jupiter/Saturn contacts in the charts of several noteworthy economists — Nouriel Roubini, the latest “Dr. Doom,” has Jupiter sextile Saturn, as did John Maynard Keynes. As Liz Greene has noted in her research on the Jupiter/Saturn cycles, these two planets have a lot to do with socioeconomic trends.

Many economists are hoist with their own petard, to quote the Bard, but Kondratiev’s death sentence was a cruel fate indeed for a practitioner of the Dismal Science. Without an exact time of birth, it’s hard to determine exactly why it happened.

I need to do more work on the chart, but I can see that Neptune was at his Sun/Jupiter midpoint when he died, as this chart shows. Reinhold Ebertin, in The Combination of Stellar Influences, says this aspect can result in “the undermining of the health, material loss.”

Back when I was reading about Kondratiev, I knew a fair number of commodities traders. They were followers of Robert Prechter, a devotee of the Elliott Wave, as well as W.D. Gann, a legendary trader who reportedly used astrology to time the markets.

I became a member of the Foundation for the Study of Cycles, a group that publishes Cycles magazine. Alice had indeed fallen down the Rabbit Hole!

As technical traders in the commodities markets know, you can become enmeshed in a net of confusion studying various cycles and waves. As computer screens of stochastic oscillators and Fibonacci numbers give way to a metaphysical discussion of the Golden Mean and fractals, the lines between the fields of finance, science, and the occult become quite blurred. Ah, Neptune in Capricorn: I remember it well!

Followers of Kondratiev like myself were waiting for the bottom to drop out of the U.S. economy in the early 1990s because it was roughly 60 years after the Great Crash of 1929. But though the economy suffered twin recessions in the early ’90s following the Crash of 1987, a Thirties-style Depression never materialized. What happened instead was globalization (Pluto into Sagittarius in 1995) and the advent of the Internet (Uranus into Aquarius, also in ’95) combined to usher in a new era of expansion.

As much as I believe in Kondratiev’s 60-year cycle, I also subscribe to the idea of a roughly 100-year cycle operating in U.S. history. A few quick examples: War of 1812 and World War I, Civil War in the 1860s and upheaval and Vietnam War in the 1960s, financial panics in 1873 and 1973.

When Pluto went into Sagittarius, I got back into the business of trying to earn a living and put my cycles studies aside. But this week’s events are bringing me back to the 100-year cycle.

Market maven Barry Ritholtz has blogged on a book called The Panic of 1907: Lessons Learned from the Market’s Perfect Storm by Robert F. Bruner and Sean Carr (McGraw-Hill, 2007).

Now, Wall Street Weather is making the connection between 1907 and yesterday’s bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the merger between Merrill Lynch and Bank of America that occurred under the “Harvest” Full Moon in Pisces.

You may know that the Panic of 1907 led to the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913. You can see the Fed chart here. The Fed’s natal chart is being transited through the end of the year by expansive Jupiter. Then, it’s going to be activated by Pluto in Capricorn, as it was earlier this year.

Remember, things don’t always work perfectly, so the Panic of 1907 and the Collapse of 2008 are 101 years apart, not a century. It’s close enough for me. If readers have any ideas about the astrological aspects that might produce a 100-year cycle, I’d be very interested to hear about them.