Astrology guides some financial traders

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

New York is full of people who make big decisions about billions of dollars. To the person on the street, these decisions look rational, like something that's part of a bigger plan.

But the course of true investing never did run smooth, and there are some traders who look to the stars to tell them what to do. Financial astrologers like Karen Starich say traders know they're up against a lot of rich, smart people.

"They want to have that edge," she says. "They want to know what the future is."

Starich chargest $237 annually for her newsletter, which 300 traders subscribe to for news of what will happen to the stock prices of companies, or even bigger, to the Federal Reserve. She sees dark times ahead in the Fed's horoscope.

"They now have Saturn squared to Neptune, which is really bankruptcy," Starich explains.

Neptune represents money. But when Saturn shows up in a chart, it indicates restriction. So for the Fed, that means the "fiscal cliff is here, and there’s no place to go except to print more money or unravel these financial institutions," Starich says.

Of course, a lot of Wall Street traders, and others, don't want it to be known that they're relying on anything other than their own talent. Arch Crawford, a financial astrologer who actually got his start on Wall Street as a stock analyst at Merrill Lynch, recalls one subscriber asking for his newsletter in "brown paper wrappers."

Crawford warns his 2,000 subscribers particularly against the dangers of Mercury in retrograde, a time when the planet appears to be going in reverse across the sky. The phenomenon, which happens three times or more a year, indicates a month when communications will be screwed up. He warns his subscribers never to start anything new during that time. He points to the fact that Knight Capital launched a new software program in August, when Mercury was in retrograde, and the brokerage firm nearly went out of business. He also notes that most major market glitches have happened while Mercury was in retrograde.

Coincidence? Most people would say yes. Financial astrologers don't say they have all the answers. They say instead that they see a range of possibilities. Human action can change them. As Shakespeare once wrote, "our faults lie not in our stars, but in ourselves."



Kai Ryssdal: Financial markets are (as you know if you've been paying attention the past four years) scary places. Not only is it hard to sort out what's going on between the news and the stock charts and the politics of economies here and overseas, but there's real money on the line. Retirements and college funds and nest eggs.

So, for guidance, some traders have started to look up.

All the way up.

Our New York bureau chief Heidi Moore explains.

Heidi Moore: New York is full of people who make big decisions about billions of dollars. To the person on the street, like Nancy Kaschel, these decisions look rational.

Nancy Kaschel: I would presume it's part of a bigger plan -- a structured idea of how to make money.

But some on Wall Street look beyond stock charts to astrological charts. They follow financial astrology: it's like the horoscope you check every day, but it helps traders see the destiny of stock prices and the economy.

Karen Starich: They want to have that edge. They want to know what the future is.

Karen Starich charges $237 annually for her newsletter, which goes out to around 300 traders. These days, she sees dark times in the Federal Reserve's chart.

Starich: They now have Saturn squared to Neptune, which is really bankruptcy.

Neptune represents money. But when Saturn shows up in a chart, it indicates restriction. So for the Fed, that means...

Starich: The fiscal cliff is here, and there's no place to go except to print more money or unravel these financial institutions.

Naturally, not everyone's a believer. One trader I talked to compared financial astrology to believing in unicorns. Even those who use financial astrology aren't ready to publicize it.

Arch Crawford was a Merrill Lynch stock analyst before he became a financial astrologer. A money manager sheepishly contacted him recently about subscribing to his newsletter.

Arch Crawford: He said, 'My top client, who runs $18 billion, wants it and he wants it in a brown paper wrapper.'

A few months ago, Crawford warned his 2,000 subscribers to avoid new ventures while Mercury looks like it's moving backwards in the sky. That's a time of communications snafus. One brokerage firm paid the price, he says.

Crawford: Knight Capital did not take our advice to downplay new purchases or trying new things during the apparent retrograde motion of Mercury.

Knight Capital suffered a software glitch that nearly put the firm out of business. Skeptics would chalk that up to coincidence. Both Arch Crawford and Karen Starich say the astrological charts show only possible outcomes.

In New York, I'm Heidi Moore for Marketplace.

About the author

Heidi N. Moore is The Guardian's U.S. finance and economics editor. She was formerly the New York bureau chief and Wall Street correspondent for Marketplace.
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Yes, it works very well, look at Mahendra Sharma, recently was in news on Forbes, I have been following him and he is mind blowing. I live in same town where he lives "Santa Barbara", I thing marketplace.org should interview him.
This year he predicted S&P to reach 1463 by mid 2012, and 1550 by year end. I have done well following him since last 10 years, he is a all time great financial astrologer, very keep very low key.

@Aja396 almost has a point in that such things as Elliot Wave are still big money spinners (or big enough to finance advertising in the WSJ, FT, etc.) but he then suggests that there is some merit to astrology, when patently there is none.

Henry Ford said, "Millionaires don't use astrology. Billionaires do."

Heidi, nice job. Fair, balanced, intriguing. I wonder if such scathing comments would be left had you written about technical analysis, modern portfolio 'theory', or the dividend discount model? Or for that matter any other so called discipline hunkered down under the guise of "science"? We are slowly by slowly entering a new age drawing back the covers of ignorance. Think about this... most "scientific models" are based on the price of a risk free asset. That benchmark (US Treasuries) is approaching ZERO. What happens to forecasting models under such circumstances? It is fascinating to this observer that these circumstances were anticipated decades ago using the most ancient of time tested methodologies.

Yes, there are financial advisors who strongly believe in astrology and provide guidance to clients based on their interpretations. I don't think this is widespread.

It isn't the covering of the story that I take issue with, but the presentation that starts with the premise that astrology is somehow a reasonable thing. Replace astrology with "crystal ball" or "tarot cards" and you will have essentially the same story.

Two days later and this is still nagging at the back of my mind. Not just that this story takes financial astrology at face value. (It isn't as if astrology has ever been debunked before. My stars!) Perhaps it isn't even that there are traders out there who buy into it--traders are just as susceptible to bunk as the rest of us. (Perhaps more so, considering the herd mentality of investing.)

What I think is a bigger question is how many financial advisers operate on a similar level? How many silly traders are there that voodoo, hudu, or other forms of woo do advise, without the cover story of astrology or some other superstition? In other words, how much financial advice out there is similarly pulled out of a consultant's nether regions? How many consulting "systems" mask such garbage?

Still, crap story Heidi.

Not sure what is worse. Marketplace covering this story or the financial traders believing this superstitious bunk.

Un-freaking-believable. Please, PLEASE tell me this was a joke. I mean these are the folks who make MAJOR dollars for having the privilege of managing my retirement savings--and they take a huge chunk out of my hard-earned money for that privilege. Marketplace is telling me that these MBAs are actually relying on junk astrology instead of common sense? I want names, and I want them now. If crashing the economic system wasn't enough to prove gross negligence (!!), then this sure is.

WHAT? WHAT? Really? On Marketplace? I said all that (and more) while listening to Heidi Moore's piece on the radio; and I used to think she had a least a triple-digit IQ. She actually sounded sympathetic to the bozos who purvey this nonsense. Sounds like she reads her horoscope everyday - that tells us something, I suppose. Why not do some real reporting - who are the idiot traders who use astrologers (or psychics, or read chicken bones, or whatever); perform a little public service, Heidi, and give your listeners some useful insights. Or, challenge the scam-artists - is there really any actionable information in "warns his subscribers never to start anything new" when Mars in retrograde (...3 or 4 months out of the year!); maybe something like - don't take on any new clients, or don't start analyzing a new stock, or...

This is sad; very, very sad.


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