Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Financial Solar System

In August 2011 I participated in the Suffolk Psychogeophysics Summit. We organized an outdoor closing session on the steps of Ipswich Town Hall. There were technical demo's (computer interpreted tea-leaf reading, ghost detection) and improvised noise performances. I had written a short lecture on the Financial Solar System. It was an attempt to change the state of the world through artistic ritual. The ritual did not work. Everything is a mess, as always. But maybe you can make it work.
In alchemy the Sun is associated with Gold. We are at the center of the financial solar system.
From here emanates the force that keeps the universe together. Here are the central banks, keeping the whole financial universe running by determining interest rates, controlling the nation's money supply and by being the "lender of last resort" for all the other banks. For all those banks we - as taxpayers - had to bail out recently.
It is rumored the financial markets are influenced by sunspots. The financial system worked tidily - like a mechanical clock - initially wound up by Jupiter himself.
It continued ticking along - as a perfect machine - with its gears governed by the laws of economics. And we humans thought that every single part of the machine was completely predictable.
That is what we thought. Until everything came crashing down.
Next we come to Mercury, the planet closest to the sun.
Mercury is the Roman god of money and commerce. But Mercury is also a trickster and the god of cunning thieves. The ancients knew how to choose their symbols.
In alchemy mercury is known as quicksilver, a liquid metal. It indicates volatility or fluidity and it is also called the ‘water of life’.
Liquidity is what keeps the financial solar system running. Assets that can be easily bought or sold, are known as liquid assets and a high level of trading activity implies high liquidity. When no one trusts anyone trading stops and the system grinds to a halt. That is the financial system crash we are now witnessing.
Venus is the goddess of love and beauty and the second brightest object in the
night sky. In astrology Venus is associated with the principles of harmony, beauty and
We all know that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Economists think that the financial crisis could have been avoided if more women were employed in speculative investing. Women are less likely to choose a risky job in finance. And if they speculate they are more careful and take less risks. It all has to do with the level of testosterone.
Venus is the planet associated with copper. At the moment the Chinese are buying up all the copper they can get, because it is one of the few valuable commodities left in the western world.
Our own home planet, the planet where finance is booming, busting and blowing bubbles. Causing volatility and chaos. Disturbing the clockwork.
The earth is divided in a northern hemisphere, with bank-managers with multi-million dollar salaries and even bigger bonuses. And a southern hemisphere, where a billion people live in poverty, surviving
on less than a dollar a day.
The heart of the financial system lies in America - one of the most religious countries in the world.
For a religious American the right question is to ask: “What would Jesus do?” Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all who sold and bought and he overthrew the tables of the moneychangers. And he said to them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves.
Mars is the red planet, the god of war and bloodshed. Astrologically Mars presides over the genitals, the gonads and the muscular system. On Wall Street a big-time trader or salesman is also called a “big swinging
dick”. Did I mention testosterone already?
But if we talk about the god of war and bloodshed - let us quote Marx, the revolutionary philosopher:
The weapon of criticism cannot, of course, replace criticism by weapons, material force must be overthrown by material force. Theory becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses.
We are the masses Marx is talking about. How long will we tolerate that a mysterious financial alchemy determines our lives?
Now we have arrived at the giant planets. And who are the giants of the financial system?
The world's most powerful investment bank is Goldman Sachs. It has been described as follows: “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”.
The Goldman money-making machine is running at $38m per day - or $1.58m per hour. In each second you listen to me Goldman will make another $439 of profit.
In Roman mythology Jupiter is the ruler of the gods and their guardian and protector, and the CEO of Goldman Sachs has once said that he is just a banker "doing God's work."
In Western astrology Saturn is associated with the principles of limitation, restrictions and boundaries. The things we have now run up against in finance. Saturn is also considered to represent the part of
a person concerned with long-term planning. Which was lacking for a long time.
In Indian astrology, Saturn is the bringer of bad luck and hardship.
With the coming of the financial crisis panic is in the air. Stocks are falling. Treasury bond yields are plunging. Confidence is low and fear is in the air. Nowadays everyone wants to buy gold and maybe – when all the speculation is over – the gold bubble will burst. All the speculative gold will turn into lead.
In alchemy Saturn is associated with the metal Lead.
The modern planets
We have now left the classical planets that were known to the ancients. Since the invention of the telescope, Western astrology has incorporated Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.
I will not talk much about modern financial techniques, because they are abhorrent. If we had stuck with classical finance we could have avoided the chaos that is dominating our financial solar system.
I will give just three frightening examples:
Modern astrology associates Uranus with new and unconventional ideas and inventions. It is the planet of sudden and unexpected changes and originality.
High frequency trading uses sophisticated technological tools and computerized algorithms to analyze incoming market data. A trader holds an investment position just for very brief periods of time - even just seconds - and rapidly trades into and out of those positions, sometimes thousands or tens of thousands of times a day.
The International Astronomical Union has downgraded the status of Pluto to that of a "dwarf planet". And Standard & Poor's rating agency has downgraded the U.S. credit rating, one notch below AAA saying that the U.S. government’s finances are “less stable and less predictable.” Maybe the U.S. will sometimes become a financial dwarf.
The god Jupiter is away on business. Our predictable clockwork system is disintegrating.

Outer space
We are now in outer space and the sun is just a tiny shining dot far away. Remember the word “liquidity”?
Out in far financial space are the frightening dark pools of liquidity, also referred to as dark liquidity or simply dark pools. They represent large trades by financial institutions that are anonymous and concealed from the public. Here institutional investors can buy and sell without showing their hand to others. There is no longer a fair and transparent market, the transaction s are clouded and are comparable with murky water.
We are at the end of our journey through the financial solar system. It was turbulent and volatile journey. How will be the rest of the spaceflight? It has been demonstrated that predictions are unreliable – especially if made by experts.
Financial doom and world apocalypses have been predicted for centuries. Somehow we managed to survive. But that is no guarantee against a future apocalypse.

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