I have long maintained that a kind of dialogue occurs between our beliefs and planetary aspects. Under a harsh set of angles, our beliefs can move us to either suffer, or to revolutionize and thrive. Crisis can do us in, or crisis can create opportunity, depending on the beliefs that motivate us.
The foundation and growth of the Grameen Bank is a prime example of this dialogue between angles and beliefs. The Grameen (meaning village) Bank was started at some unspecified time during the mid-1970s by Muhammad Yunus, an economics professor in Bangladesh, who had recently returned from Tennessee where he earned his degree at Vanderbilt University.
In a recent interview he explained the origins of Grameen Bank:
Teaching economics and kind of dreaming about a better economic life, you question yourself. What good is the subject that you teach in the classroom, because you are teaching your students all the elegant theories of economics, but you walk out of the classroom you see the terrible misery of the people, people with skinny bones and about to die, and a whole nation in the grip of such a disastrous situation. So I would go around in the village next door to the university campus, this is something like 1975. I met a woman who was making bamboo stools. I found out that she made hardly two pennies U. S. each day. The reason, I found out later, was she didn't have the money to buy the bamboo to go into that stool. So she had to borrow money to buy the bamboo from a trader, with the condition that she will sell the product to the trader at the price that he decides. She cannot sell the product to anybody else. And, as a result, the trader took advantage of the situation and only offered her a price which barely covered the cost of the raw materials. Her labor almost came free. That made me think: is it a peculiar situation with her or are there more people in the village like her? So I took a student of mine the next day and went around in the village to find out and came up with a list of 42 such people. So I didn't know what to do about it. The most natural thing that I could think of was to take this money out of my own pocket, and distribute it among the 42 people, telling them this is a loan I am giving. They can pay me back, but now they can sell their products wherever they get a good price. They are not bound to sell it to any specific person, who decides the price.
In other words, Yunus made an unsecured, undocumented loan to people without property or any kind of collateral. Why? Because of his belief that a way out of poverty could be found.
The bum rap on the capitalist system is that it makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. Professor Yunus demonstrated that by making a change in lending practices, capitalism can enable the poor to boot-strap out of poverty. Grameen Bank has grown to overturn conventional banking practice by removing the need for collateral and creating a banking system based on trust. Conventional lending institutions lock the poor out of opportunities made available to those deemed "credit worthy" based on being born with an inheritance, property, collateral.
Planets Show Long-Term Economic Challenges
Astrologically at the time, the planets having most to do with long-range economic conditions were not very positive. Saturn was square Uranus, Pluto opposite Jupiter and sextile Neptune, and Neptune was opposite Mars. Under these angles revolutionary fervor grew in Iran and would culminate in the ouster of America's appointee, the Shah of Iran; eventually, Iranians would take over the US Embassy in Tehran and hold Americans hostage until a new administration, headed by Ronald Reagan, secretly exchanged arms for those hostages.
Saturn-Uranus squares and oppositions have a history of being economically and politically disruptive. The opposition of 1965-67 coincided with the Vietnam War and anti-war movement in the US; the square of 1951-52 with the Korean War and social unrest; the square of 1931-32 with the great depression of the 1930s; the opposition of 1918-20 with World War I and a post-war isolationist mood. Muhamad Yunus responded to the square in the mid-1970s by finding an innovative solution to poverty.
Yunus' new spin on lending seeks to reverse the age-old vicious circle of "low income, low saving and low investment," into a virtuous circle of "low income, injection of credit, investment, more income, more savings, more investment, more income."
Both Iran's revolt against US domination and Muhammad Yunus' revolt against conventional banking worked. Iran, in effect, led other Muslim nations to the militant jihad resistance against American economic domination, which grew into today's so-called "war on terror." Professor Yunus' spin on bank lending worked to pull thousands of poor people out of poverty, gradually removing them from the ranks of "abundant cheap labor" so prized by multinational corporations.
"Econonomic" Planets Turn Favorable
By the end of 1976, the outer-most "economic planets" were in a more favorable aspect. Saturn was sextile Pluto and trine Neptune, although Saturn continued its square with Uranus. This created some detrimental aspects to the USA's natal chart and America's economy was floundering in what came to be called "stagflation," a combination of inflation and depression-like stagnation, triggered by a drastic curtailment of oil from the Middle East in reaction to US corporate and military dominance.
By September 2002, as the US was readying the invasion of Iraq, the Grameen Bank had 2.4 million borrowers, 95 percent of whom were women, 1,175 branches worldwide servicing 41,000 impoverished villages of around 2,500 people each.
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank continued to lend much larger amounts to big businesses in Third World countries; to repay such loans, social services were curtailed, growing the record-breaking gap between poorest and richest.
The World Bank and the Grameen Bank grew side by side during the past 25 years, under the same planetary aspects, the one oppressing the poor, the other uplifting the poor. The difference was beliefs. While the IMF and World Bank serve the owning class's faith in profits, the Grameen Bank is, "Owned by the poor borrowers of the bank who are mostly ( Third World) women. It works exclusively for them. Borrowers of Grameen Bank at present (2004) own 93 percent of the total equity of the bank. Remaining 7 percent is owned by the (Bangladeshi) government."(1)
During 2003, Grameen Bank member deposits increased by $44.44 million, from $154.66M to $227.66M. In Bangladeshi money, deposits now come to Tk7.31 billion. This is an annual growth rate of 36.5 percent. Grameen expects deposits to exceed loans during the last half of 2004, the expected crossing point being $376.4 million.
As the World Bank, IMF, WTO, NAFTA, etc., have been expanding globally to make the rich richer, Grameen Bank has also been expanding globally to make the poor less vulnerable.
Since the mid-1970s, the wages of American workers have trended down, and most working class families are now supported by two jobholders instead of one, as had been traditional. In stark contrast to this trend inside the US, Grameen Bank's unsecured loans to the poorest of the poor in Third World countries have steadily lifted the poor and recorded a repayment rate of 99.06 percent.
Grameen's latest innovation is to provide on credit a cell phone to a villager who can then sell calls to other villagers shopping for the best price for their products.
Both Grameen and the World Bank have responded from different beliefs to the same planetary angles. Both have loosed on the world big changes in the way humanity does business.
1. Search Google for "Grameen Bank" to verify this and learn much more.