How about a stimulus plan for Pluto?

Astrology wheel


Kai Ryssdal: Seeing as how none of the experts seem to have a real handle on the forces moving this economy, and no one is doing a particularly good job of predicting how it's all going to turn out next year, we figured why not try another prediction racket altogether?

We sent Mitchell Hartman from the Entrepreneurship Desk up at Oregon Public Broadcasting out to see what astrology has to say about our economic fates.

[See charts below on the United States, Barack Obama, the Federal Reserve and Timothy Geithner.]

Mitchell Hartman: So, what's going on in the heavens that's moving the economy?

Jonathan David: The big thing right now is Pluto.

That's Jonathan David, president of the Oregon Astrological Association. He says Pluto's a very disruptive force, and it's wreaking havoc everywhere -- from central banks to stock markets. As astrologer Susan Davis explains, what's happened is that Pluto has just entered the constellation Capricorn in the sky.

Susan Davis: Pluto is at 0 degrees Capricorn. The last time that happened was 1776, the American Revolution. The country has a big change coming.

Pluto's move into Capricorn happened during the fall, just around the time Fannie and Freddie and AIG were collapsing. And Pluto moves slowly, so it'll be causing upheaval in Capricorn until 2023. So, is planetary motion a plausible explanation for economic motion? I tested the theory with Jonathan David.

David: Pluto is going to be going significantly through the U.S. chart of the 8th house -- the house of mystery and death and rebirth.

Maybe not. But then I met Dena DeCastro, a very serious counseling astrologer who sees the heavenly bodies as indicators, rather than causes, of events down on earth.

Dena DeCastro: I don't believe that the planets actually make things happen, so much as they reflect a larger order to things.

So, back to Pluto. For 15 years, the powerful little planetoid has been slowly moving through the constellation Sagittarius.

DeCastro: Sagittarius has to do with expansion, with growth. The shadow side of Sagittarius is about overextension, over-optimism.

We know where that got us -- the delusion that home prices would go up forever and everyone getting subprime mortgages then buying Hummers on credit to put in the driveway. By contrast, Capricorn, where Pluto has now arrived . . .

DeCastro: . . . Is about looking at things coldly and starkly and with an awareness of what's real. And in fact, it can be kind of oppressively bleak. It's like the energy of a bubble bursting.

Which made me wonder, how's the astrology business faring in a looming Capricornian depression? Susan Davis sees walk-in customers at the back of a psychic accessories shop in Burbank, Calif. She says a lot of her colleagues are hurting, but she's booked solid. Her secret isn't in the stars -- she's quick and cheap.

Susan Davis: 'Cause I'm just basically a what's-going-to-happen-type person, not what your personality is, or what you're thinking or feeling -- I don't care. I just want to know what's coming in your life. And 15 minutes will do it.

At 20 bucks a pop. To be honest, all this has me feeling a bit guilty. I'm a Capricorn. But, DeCastro says, no, the world needs Capricorn's pay-as-you-go, get-real, stick-to-the-budget discipline right now. Sorry everyone. Party's over. Pluto's in our sign now.

Returning to earth, I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.


By Dena DeCastro

The United States

The United States' chart is cast for the time and date that many would consider to be the birth of our country, at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The country celebrates its official "birthday" on that date as well. See the United States' chart.

Transiting Pluto is moving into an opposition with the natal Venus in the United States chart. Venus associations are money, physical comfort, and resources. It is in the sign of Cancer, which is concerned with creating security and stability. With Pluto opposing this point currently, and moving into exact opposition with the U.S. Venus throughout 2009, the comfort, stability, and resource base of the country is challenged.

Additionally, transiting Saturn and Uranus are both squaring (making a tensional aspect) to the U.S. Mars in the 7th House in Gemini throughout 2009. This suggests a time in which the country is at a crossroads in terms of foreign relations, and there may be difficulties and tensions regarding the way in which our government applies its force of will (Mars).

There must be caution against sudden moves and impulsive decisions regarding foreign affairs, as the overall mood in this area is one of restlessness and frustration. But this crossroads is an opportunity to approach the global foreign relations scene with a more responsible, disciplined approach than in the past, ultimately gaining back some of the respect that the U.S. has recently lost.

President-Elect Barack Obama

President-Elect Obama's natal Sun, Uranus and Mercury all lie in the sign of Leo, showing an innate gift for taking on a leadership role, and allowing him to be comfortable in the spotlight. See Barack Obama's chart.

Leo also brings with it a passionate creativity that needs to be directed towards visible and measurable outcomes; he is literally energized by seeing his creative ideas come to fruition in ways that can be practically helpful to people.

His natal Mars in Virgo in the 7th House allows him to be careful but assertive in his dealings with others; his style of asserting his will (Mars) is fastidious, with great attention to laying a plan meticulously.

The main transit is currently Pluto opposing his own natal Venus: this echoes the exact transit happening in the United States chart, as Obama's Venus is just 2 degrees apart from the U.S. Venus. Obama's sense of security, comfort and resources are directly challenged at this time, alongside the same issues arising for the country. This transit lasts for him from 2008 to 2011. He will likely be asked to make great sacrifices to his personal comfort during this period, with the ultimate possibility that he can come away from the experience more empowered and stronger than before, having faced many personal fears.

The dark possibility of this time would be for him to cling to comfort and stability and resist the great need for change within the country. Another transit affecting him is the Saturn/Uranus opposition which will contact his Mars in Virgo in the 7th, echoing again a similar transit happening in the U.S. chart.

With Saturn conjunct his Mars in Virgo and Uranus opposing it, he is entering a time of developing discipline under the weight of large burdens, with the potential of achieving many of his goals through a balance of innovation and plain hard work.

The Federal Reserve

The Fed's natal chart, cast for Dec. 13, 1923, has the Sun at 1 degree Capricorn, and Pluto at 0 degrees Cancer. These are important points that are in the early cardinal signs (cardinal signs are Capricorn, Cancer, Aries and Libra). The early degrees of the cardinal signs are being activated by outer-planetary transits over the next several years, with a peak period during the summer of 2010. However, transiting Pluto is already at 0 degrees Capricorn, and by January will be conjunct with the Fed's Sun exactly during the first week of January 2009. See The Fed's chart.

Transiting Pluto is currently opposing the Fed's Pluto as well, and has been in range of both these points since the end of 2007; these transits will be in effect through 2010. The interpretation of Pluto to Sun and Pluto to Pluto contacts would be that the entity undergoing the transit (the Fed) is in a time of complete transformation.

Pluto's force strips away that which is no longer useful, and a time of elimination of the old way of doing things is at hand. In the place of that which is dying off, new structures and foundations can be born. But there is the caution that action must be taken now. The force of these transits should be channeled toward the ultimate betterment of the structure itself, and society. If not, there can be the unpleasant result of unintended and carelessly made arbitrary changes that serve neither the Fed nor the country.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Designate Timothy Geithner

While we do not have a reliable birth time for the nominee for U.S. Treasury secretary, we are able to cast a chart based on his birth date and place, which gives us much of his pertinent information. See Timothy Geithner's chart.

Like Obama, Geithner is a Leo, with his Uranus and Mercury also in Leo. Three planets in Leo indicate the ability to step into a leadership role with confidence. If he lives to his fullest potential, he can have an immense amount of creative energy at his disposal.

Uranus is conjunct to Geithner's Sun, indicating the potential to be an innovative personality in general, someone who can blaze new trails rather than sticking to the status quo. Uranus is also conjunct to Geithner's Mercury, showing that this inventive quality infuses his mental approach: he thinks in terms of what could be groundbreaking, pioneering, and revolutionary. These qualities will be very helpful in terms of the work to be done on the U.S. economy.

His chart also synchs up well with Obama's, indicating that they would have a basic understanding of each others' way of thinking. In terms of transiting planets for Geithner, he will have Pluto square his natal Mars from 2008 to 2011, which could indicate potential power struggles. He will have to work toward asserting himself, using his innate gift of tact and diplomacy, and his sense of inner authority.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.
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Oh, you guys. What's more "appalling" or "disappointing": astrological predictions about a hopeful future for our country, or the rampant corruption and greed that drove some of us to need hope like this?

Frankly I was appalled by this piece. I think your intention was that it be a somewhat light-hearted way to fill in on a day when the market was closed. Frankly you end up giving way too much credence (anything more than zero is too much) to astrology. Just when I thought the piece was starting to distance itself from craziness "I don't believe that the planets actually make things happen" it end up still endorsing it. This is not what we expect from a news program carried by NPR.

Be ashamed. Be very, very ashamed. As an astronomy instructor, I have had to counter the nonsense of astrology for many years. To see it presented as having any value at all on my public radio station is terribly disappointing. Why didn't you consult fortune cookies instead? At least you would have had a cookie! This is an abuse of the public airwaves to even suggest that there is any value whatsoever in this ancient discredited hokum. Astrology DOES NOT WORK. You should not give it a public forum, other than to present the evidence of its failure. Shame on you! If this is an example of your abilities as reporters, then you are not doing a good job. Why not look back at the predictions made by astrologers for the year, and see if they were even close? Now that would have had some value.

What a load of horsepuckey. The writers and editors should be ashamed of themselves for given even the slightest appearance of credibility to superstitious claptrap that is astrology.

I am appalled and disgusted. Astrology presented as credible and treated as an plausible explanation - or indicator - for economic happenings here on Earth? If you were joking, I completely missed it. And how demeaning for Robert Reich, that clear-headed voice of economic reason these past years, to have to follow this mess. Have you lost your sense of reality? Did the National Enquirer hijack your studios? I had no idea that you could even pretend take any this bunk seriously. This not only undermines your reputation for economic competence, but starts to bring into question your rationality.

Astrology may be a fun little diversion, a hobby, a pastime... but using it as a reference for the economic woes we are undergoing? I hope I am simply misreading the intent of the article, and if I am, I apologize very sincerely. What I seem to be seeing is an uncritical look at a pseudoscience that as yet has been completely unreliable and unable to stand up to any rigorous testing. I understand that this article is listed under "Odds and Ends" which may give it some leeway, but promoting something that is not only false, but misleading to so many suggestible people throughout the world is not very responsible. Why not find some predictions from before the economic crash?

Sorry about crowding the soapbox, but humankinds greatest strength is also its greatest enemy. Our intelligence is rooted in the ability to find and make patterns. It's a wonderful skill, but the problem is that we are so good at it, we make connections where none exist, and we believe in a causal relationship. That is what astrology is about.

Skeptico provides an excellent summary of how astrology was debunked, with links to the testers, and the published papers skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2005/02/what_do_you_mea.html

I am incredibly disappointed to hear this credulous and silly story promoting the pseudoscience of Astrology. Usually news agencies give themselves a little wiggle room when they report these things so they can say "oh, we were just fooling around, we don't really believe this stuff," but you guys didn't even do that. Instead, you treat this rubbish seriously. When did you start emulating the worst of Fox news?

This story is a disappointment coming from NPR. There is no causal relationship between events and trends here on Earth and the movements of the planets through the sky.
I know you guys can't be taking this stuff seriously, but it doesn't seem that way from the story.

This was a joke, right ? Well even then it wasn't particularly funny. I suggest sticking to straight stories.

I agree completely with Jack MacConnell:
this complete nonsense should be left to the pages of the National Enquirer or other such places.

I look to Marketplace for good information about business and investments, not satire, parody, and superstition.

And just to finish off:
the constellations don't really exist. It's only the appearance of patterns in the sky - the stars aren't even the same distance from Earth. And of course, the paths of the planets have nothing at all to do this illusion.

I echo Mr. McConnell's sentiments. The apparently serious and uncritical style of this piece gives the impression that astrology is a valid source of financial advice. If this were true, there would be no poor astrologers and they could afford to give their work away. Had this been handled with a lighter touch (as done by, say, Cash Peters) or with some discussion of previous success rates with astrological predictions, it would have been a completely different story. Besides, anyone even vaguely familiar with current events could say, "Barack Obama will likely be asked to make great sacrifices to his personal comfort during this period" or that "he is entering a time of developing discipline under the weight of large burdens." He was recently elected President of the United States, after all - if we thought the job was easy and comfortable, there would have been far less drama during the campaign.


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