Money: Dollar and Yuan
News that the Chinese government had delinked its currency from the dollar (as transiting Saturn was conjunct the US Mercury-Pluto opposition) takes us back to the astrological history of money and of the US dollar in particular. Human societies, for the past three millennia, have been held together by language and money. Money is defined as a medium of exchange and measure of value. Many things have been used as money down through time, from seeds to stones, although metal coins arose as the most preferred form. Gold became the most popular and ubiquitous. It has the needed qualities: it is scarce, durable, and easy to carry; it can be standardized and weighted for larger or smaller amounts.
For something to work well as money it must have another quality: in economics this quality is called “intrinsic value," meaning value in and of itself. Actually, no thing under the Sun really has intrinsic value, but just about any thing can be imbued, by common agreement, with intrinsic value. The more accurate term would be perceived value. Because of its unique qualities, we humans have collectively perceived gold as having intrinsic value.
As money, gold has one other special quality: it cannot be transformed into something else, and as the medieval alchemists found, nothing else can be transformed into gold. Gold is immutable. Gold was accepted as the most universal form of money for more than two and a half millennia before President Richard Nixon delinked the dollar from gold in 1971. Until 1971 the world’s paper currencies were based on gold. After 1971, the paper currencies of all nations were left to “float free,” meaning change their ratios to each other according to “market forces.”
When the first paper money arose is not clear; some say an early version was used in ancient China, others that it was first tried in Sweden shortly after the printing press was developed around 1500. Since the early 1700s, paper money and/or IOU's exchangeable for gold or other metals increasingly came into use, as the story of John Law epitomizes.
John Law theorized that since money denotes wealth, the more money you have, the wealthier you are. In 1717, the French King enabled John Law to become an early prototype of the modern central bank, or what in the USA we call The Federal Reserve System. John Law printed paper money exchangeable for mental coins. This worked so well at first that he then sold shares in real estate along the Mississippi River, about a month's voyage from the Paris of his day. Investors used money printed by John Law to buy shares sold by John Law. Since he could print paper money in great abundance, his clients rapidly became extremely rich, when rich is defined as having great amounts of paper money.
But money is really a medium of exchange and measure of wealth, not wealth itself, so John Law's Neptunian bubble burst and is now known as “the Mississippi Swindle" when this real estate turned out to be not worth the paper paid for it.(1) Astrologically, this bubble burst with Saturn opposite Neptune and both square Venus, forming a T-square.
"To Regulate the Value Thereof"
Until the first US Congress took control of America's money in 1787, various things had been used as money in the original 13 colonies—other nations' coins, Indian wampum, tobacco, rare metals and stones, letters of credit and IOU notes. In 1787 when the US Constitution passed, it was decided that the new federal government would control America's money. Section 8 of the Constitution states: “The Congress shall have power...to coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures."
Some of the Founders were members of the Masonic Order and aware of astrology, but none were yet aware of the influences of the outermost three planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto). Back then, Jupiter was seen as the primary influence of prosperity. For the passage of the Constitution, Jupiter was found conjunct the US Mars, and transiting Mars was conjunct the US Jupiter and Venus. A more fortunate aspect for wealth creation is hard to find. This is especially so if one uses the Gemini Rising chart for the USA, “illogical" though it seems, for it loads the US Second House of money with Sun, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury. Indeed, the USA rapidly rose to become the world's wealthiest nation.
Pluto, influence of long-range change, was found (after it was discovered in 1930) to have been at 14 Aquarius in 1787, forming a grand trine to a spot midway between the US Uranus and Mars in Gemini, and to the US natal Saturn at 14 Libra. Transiting Saturn was at 23 Aquarius trine the US Mars at 21 Gemini, and if we use a generous orb, transiting Saturn was also forming a grand trine with the US Saturn at 15 Libra. Uranus at 29 Cancer was opposite the US Pluto at 27 Capricorn. However, the major aspect to this opposition was the US Pluto's trine to the US Neptune in Virgo. On balance, a most providential time for this decision that would guide the new nation's creation, use and control of money.
Rise of the Bankers
In 1913 Congress created the Federal Reserve System, America's central bank. In effect, politicians got out of the money business by handing it over to private bankers. The astrological prognostication for the creation of the Fed was not as upbeat as for the Constitution. In 1913 Saturn was conjunct the US Uranus and Mars in Gemini, tying it into a square to the US Neptune in Virgo, a negative indicator for financials. The Moon’s Nodes formed a grand cross with Saturn and the US Neptune, and Mercury and Venus in Sagittarius. Mars was conjunct the US Sun, square the US Saturn. Neptune was conjunct the US Mercury opposite the US Pluto. Uranus and Jupiter were conjunct the US Pluto. Even today many suffer the Neptunian delusion that the Fed is part of the US government.
A Major Restructuring
Removing money from the control of Congress and putting it under the control of private bankers was not seen by all as a good idea. The goal of Congress, as representatives of the people, was to make money as widely available as possible; the goal of bankers, as sellers of money, was to make loans as profitably as possible. The creation of the Fed was a major restructuring, as indicated by the heavy aspects to the US Saturn, ruler of structures and restructuring.
Then came the crash of '29 and the great depression of the 1930s, and on April 5, 1933, President Roosevelt invoked authority given him by Congress to outlaw owning gold coins or bullion. Soon thereafter, Roosevelt devalued the dollar from $20.67 per one troy ounce of Gold to $35.00. The Treasury, now sole possessors of the nation's gold, saw the monetary value of their holdings increase by $2.81 billion.
What emerges from a study of the three bi-wheel charts to this point in time, 1933, is that the US natal Mercury-Pluto opposition had the most to do with creating and developing America's money. At each point of major change in US money, one of the outermost planets was in late Cancer, conjunct the US Mercury and opposite the US Pluto. In 1787, it was Uranus; in 1913 it was Neptune; in 1933 it was Pluto. And most recently, Chinese money was delinked from the dollar with Saturn conjunct the US Mercury opposite the US Pluto. Mercury rules communications of all kinds, including business; Pluto opposite speaks of behind-the scenes activities, perhaps conspiracies. What paved the way for this latest monetary move by China?
Gold Standard Abandoned
On August 15, 1971, the world departed from its nearly 3000-year reliance on gold as the universal basis of money and "entered the first era...in which no circulating paper anywhere was redeemable in gold by anyone...On that date, US President Richard Nixon 'closed the gold window.'"(2) Thereafter, gold was “just another commodity," not the basis of paper money. Officially, that is. Actually, people still perceived gold as the most basic and enduring form of money.
Astrologically in August 1971, there was an opposition hitting the US Uranus formed by Saturn at 5 Gemini within orb of 180 degrees from Neptune and Jupiter. Pluto was in a separating conjunction with the US Neptune, square the US Mars, with the Moon conjunct the US Mars, and Uranus applying to conjunction of the US Saturn, square US Sun.
Uranus and Pluto's positions suggested surprising, innovative and changing financial events lay ahead. The three-millennia tradition of imbuing gold with the intrinsic” value of humanity's most basic form of money had been ended by political decree. All nations' paper currencies could now change their ratios to each other monthly, weekly, then daily, hourly and with new instantaneous communications, in nanoseconds. This created the kind of financial system John Law had passionately advocated in France in the early 1700s: the more money, the wealthier the individual or nation.
Not Everyone Convinced
Nixon's ending of the gold standard and converting gold to a commodity like soybeans and pork bellies did not convince everyone. The price of gold soared. By January 1980, with gold at $850 an ounce, President Carter’s Fed Chairman Paul Volcker took a momentous step. He announced that the Fed was changing its policy from controlling interest rates to controlling the money supply. This was something like saying that instead of controlling the price of gold, Volcker would control the mining of gold.
In response, US interest rates skyrocketed. The US Prime Rate hit 20 percent in April 1980 and stayed there (with a brief dive in mid-1980) until the end of 1981. As rates rose, the dollar slowed its descent, stopped its fall, and then began to rise. People who had stampeded into gold were lured back into dollars.
Where were our astro-economic indicators at this time? On January 20, 1980, Neptune was at 21 Sagittarius, opposite the US Mars, square the US Neptune, indicating deception, delusion, illusion. Since 1980, the dollar as the world's "reserve currency" has been seen as an inspirational opportunity by some, a bait-and-switch delusion by others. Uranus was trine the US Mercury and sextile the US Pluto. Mercury-ruled businesses felt rejuvenated and there was an outburst of Uranus-ruled technology. There were some electrifying, unprecedented, pleasant surprises in store for big business and the super rich.
However, Pluto was conjunct the US Saturn, square US Sun, and Saturn and Mars were conjunct the US Neptune, square US Mars. This combination did not bode well for the long-range future of the dollar as the world's basic form of money. After Volcker's decree, prices of stocks took off. The Dow rose from 776 to nearly 1100 between August 1982 and late January 1983. This appears on charts as a pattern resembling the launch of a rocket. When adjusted for inflation, however, the rocketing up of stock prices flattens considerably. This happened on the cusp of the development of computers and "e-money," enabling the creation of dollars with the touch of a computer key.
There are two types of inflation: too much money chasing too few goods, and no shortage of goods but an abundance of money boosting prices. In the late '70s, the oil producing nations caused a shortage of gasoline, creating inflation. In response, Volcker created the other form of inflation. It's like he shouted to the foreman of the Fed's money printing press, "Let's roll!" No longer anchored to gold, the dollar floated up and away like a helium-filled balloon. When Nixon closed the gold window in 1971, Congress had a permanent debt ceiling of $400 billion. By late 1982, US debt had tripled to $1.25 trillion. Congress rode the dollar balloon by changing its "permanent" debt ceiling to "temporary."
Replacing gold with the dollar cleared the road for the creation of speculative bubbles in stocks and real estate. You want to build a house for $250,000? Presto magico, your friendly banker credits your account with a dollar sign and the requested numbers. This loan is secured by the house you will build, and you get busy hiring contractors and paying them in paper dollars. You build the house and sell it for $500,000 to a new buyer whose banker creates the five hundred thousand by crediting the new buyer's account. Much the same happened in the stock markets.
"Derivatives" were first developed in the 1980s, greatly expanding the amount of employable dollars. Derivatives are "securities that derive their value from another physical asset, i.e. futures and options." A book titled The Wild Beast of Finance cautioned that the explosion in derivatives trading could destabilize the global financial market. (3) Derivatives enable the production of money profits without the production of goods and services. Thus money crossed the line from being "the medium of exchange and measure of wealth" to become wealth itself: John Law's spirit danced a jig, his theory triumphant.
Back in the bad old days, people borrowed dollars based on gold reserves. After 1971 people borrowed dollars based on dollar reserves, explosively expanding the amount of money in circulation without increasing the Fed's official money supply. This caused a slowdown in inflation. The amount of paper money in circulation was not greatly increased—it was credit, the amount of numbers in computers and financial statements that grew explosively. It was the dawning of the age of e-money.
Production and Profits
In gold standard days, profit was made from the manufacture and sale of goods and the providing of services. In the post-gold-standard world of e-money, profits can be made without producing anything material. Little or no paper money has to change hands to produce this John Law form of wealth, as credit card numbers and computerized e-money whiz through the planet's electromagnetic field like swarms of e-locusts. This development coincided with a rare conjunction in 1989-90 of Uranus (ruler of electricity), Neptune (ruler of delusions) and Saturn (structures and restructuring). These three were in a very rare togetherness, opposite the US Sun and square the US Saturn.
By the 1990s, NAFTA, the WTO and the new high-tech industries in Silicon Valley were as popular as John Law's Mississippi real estate in 1720. Beyond 2000, Enron and other corporate debacles were waiting in the wings. But the worst downside of this revival of John Law's theory was that the classic pyramid-shape of wealth distribution became more like an Eiffel Tower reaching to the Moon with a base covering thousands of miles—in contrast to the ancient Egyptian pyramid proportions. The wealth of the rich skyrocketed while the share of middle class and poor sank and flattened.
The executives of American corporations (who not many years ago were raving about a Chinese “Red Menace”) now get along exceedingly well with Communist Chinese government officials, who in effect run the largest corporate holding company on the planet. It seems they have recognized each other as brothers of the hunt for greater and greater monetary profits. Will China’s delinking of the yuan from the dollar change that relationship?
1. John Law’s Mississippi Swindle bubble-burst happened almost simultaneous with another, called the South Seas Bubble, headquartered in London.
2. The Privateer Market Newsletter, 2001. Search Google.
3. The Wild Beast of Finance by Alfred Steinherr, Wiley, New York, 1998.
4. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins, Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, 2004.
5. Time and Money: the Economy and the Planets by Robert Gover, Hopewell Publications, 2005.