The financial system is based more on confidence than ‘solid’ assets. Money itself is purely based on the confidence that if you accept a particular piece of paper in exchange for goods or services, you will be able to change it back again further down the line.
So the current global crisis is not just about banks having lent unwisely and undermined their balance sheets in the process. That started it, but what it quickly became was the ‘credit crunch’, in which financial institutions no longer had confidence in one another, because they didn’t know each other’s exposure to this unwise lending. And a particular bank may go bust not because it is unsaveable, but because a loop develops where no-one will do business with it because no-one else will, and like Lehmans it can go under in a matter of hours.
So this is the $64 trillion question for the world right now: how far will this contagion spread? The Dow Jones and FTSE rallied yesterday due to government and central bank intervention, and are continuing to do so today, as the US government promises to take care of many of the bank debts that have built up. We have had these bouts of turmoil before, like when Pluto entered Capricorn in January, or when Bear Stearns, one of the big US investment banks, went under in March. But each time the turmoil is intensifying, and each time the hope is that it has been contained.
Many financial commentators are comparing current events to the 1930s. Astrology confirms this. We are now in the very early stages of a Uranus-Pluto square which will not be exact until 2012. In 1929, the year of the Wall St Crash, Uranus and Pluto were similarly just coming into square (using an 8 degree orb), and would not be exact until 1932. I find this similarity quite eerie.
Then Uranus was entering Aries, at it will do again in a couple of years, so it is a kind of re-visiting of the 1930s for this reason as well. Pluto was in Cancer, but I don’t think the sign is all that matters: Pluto is a god of riches as well as of death, so his movements always describe the economy. (By sign he is doing this rather aptly at the moment, as he moves from party-time Sag to hangover Capricorn.)
So a Uranus-Pluto square or opposition is probably about the most disruptive and transformative aspect you can have when it comes to the world economy. It fortunately doesn’t happen very often, and indeed the 1930s, the time of the Great Depression, was the last time it occurred. The 1930s square lasted right through from 1929 to 1937, finishing in the USA with another Depression! It was the boost to the economy from World War II which finally finished it off. And a very different world was ushered in.
No-one seems to fully understand why the Great Depression occurred, although the stock market bubble and excessive borrowing of the 1920s was certainly a major factor. Likewise no-one seems to fully understand what is happening now. George Soros is a well-known speculator and investor, and if anyone would know, you might have thought he would. He was asked what he thought about the US government allowing Lehman Brothers to fail. He said well if the overall situation doesn’t spiral out of control, then it will be seen as a good decision. But if it does spiral out of control, then it will be seen as a bad decision. True, but it also shows he is finding the future just as unpredictable as the rest of us!
What is going on now is classic Uranus, as well as classic Pluto, with each intensifying the other. Uranus really is unpredictable, as current events are showing. We are not necessarily headed for a Great Depression, just because that happened in the 1930s. On the other hand, we could be. We just don’t know and can’t know. What we do know – and as astrologers we have privileged information – is that the Uranus-Pluto square will not be fully over until 2019, in 11 years time. And that what is happening now is therefore the beginning of a long, transformational journey for the whole world. We know as astrologers that there is no going back economically, for the transit is too big for that. Astrology trains us to have a sense of the currents in society, and the magnitude of the coming change is something we can probably sense anyway.
Of course Uranus-Pluto will bring change on all sorts of levels: we can already observe the sea-change that is on its way in both US and UK politics, for example, though Britain as usual is lagging behind. With Russia and China becoming increasingly assertive, we can also see a sea-change in world politics on the horizon.