Where the astrology of the East meets the West
As we enter the Spring/Summer of 2008, all reports indicate that the fast times of fast growth have slowed from their previous breathless pace. The big slowdown is here and the only question seems to be how deep will it be, and how long will it last?
The curiousness of this slow-down is the speed with which it has seemed to happen. Suddenly the economy is slowing, suddenly job growth is slowing, suddenly consumers are slowing down their spending, and suddenly credit availability and Wall Street profits have slowed, requiring enormous cash infusions from the FED to get them back up to acceptable speed. As I see it, it is not slowness that is the problem, but the speed at which the slowness has suddenly come upon us.
The planet Saturn is associated with that which is slow, measured and controlled; and his adversary, the planet Mars, is associated with that which is fast, expedient and out of control. Everyone, of course, is hoping for a speedy quick-fix to this annoying problem so we can get back on the fast track to fast growth. I, for one, do not see this happening, as Saturnís alignment with Mars for most of the summer of 2008 astrologically does not favor a fast fix to any problems! Perhaps a measured look back would give us a more accurate time lapse picture than a quick fix snap-shot of the current slow-down.
As I said in the last newsletter, there is nothing to fear about slowness, the Yogis of India embrace this at the core of their philosophy as a life preserving tool. In contrast to the slowness in so many areas of the economy is the fastness in the rise of oil prices. Oil prices have risen with such ballistic speed that Congress has called for an investigation into Big Oilís sudden record profits. If you are starting to suspect that there is a connection between the sudden jump in oil prices and the sudden slowing down in the economy, you are on the right track.
If you want to take a slow look back to the last time oil prices similarly surged, you will have to go back to the 70ís. A slow look back reveals it was a time of peak U.S. oil production, as revealed by the research of the late M. King Hubbert, a Shell Oil geologist. Hubbert predicated, in what came to be known as Hubbertís Peak, that the U.S. would reach peak production of oil in the mid 70ís and oil prices would rise upon the ensuing demand. He was right. Oil prices increased four-fold during the 70ís and an economic recession followed.
Again, Hubbert predicted that the global production of oil would peak some thirty years later with similar results. Once again he was right. Since 2003, oil prices have increased four-fold, just like the last time of peak oil. If the mid to late 70ís are any indication, it looks like the price spike in oil is correlated with economic recession. It appears that as the price of oil suddenly goes up, the Stock Market seems to go down, and as the price of oil goes down the Stock Market seems to rally. Oil dependent industries suffer economic losses when the price goes up, and Big Oil surges to record profits.
Secondly, if you will take a slow look back to the mid to late 70ís, you will see the specter of another unusual economic anomaly called stagflation. Stagflation is the economic anomaly of increasing inflation with a stagnating, slow growth economy. The inflation part of stagflation surged to double digits during the 70ís, and got so out of control that Congress initiated price controls to attempt to tame it.
So what do we have in common with some thirty years ago from an astrological point of view? Well, the planet of slowness, Saturn, has a thirty year cycle of return, and the King of Slowness is back transiting the same two constellations he transited for the last half of 70ís. Saturn will not conclude his transit of those same constellational placements until September of 2009, so donít be in any hurry to come to any speedy conclusions until his transit is over.
If the last half decade of the 70ís were any indication, it seems we are going to see the anomaly of stagflation again, followed by economic recession. However, the wild card this time is peak global oil production, not just peak U.S. oil production, as in the mid 70ís. The scale of this difference is leading some economists to say that this slow-down might be much more than a recession. We will just have to wait and see while Saturn does what he does best, slowing things down for a thorough look. The FED has speedily lowered interest rates to prevent the slowing of the economy, but no one has suggested or appears able to slow the speed of the price of Big Oil, which is at the core of the problem. Itís just un-American to do so in a free market economy.
If you can get out of the fast-burn, perhaps you can look at the slow side of what is what is happening. This is a chance to get back into real time, rather than the heady merry-go-round of the fast spin. I recommend you purchase a copy of Carl Honoreís international best seller In Praise of Slowness to help you realign to a slower reality. This book is an excellent introduction to the mindful art of slowness versus the mindless cult of speed. With practice you can remove yourself from the illusion of speed, and when you do, you will find that the world is not spinning any faster today than it did yesterday. However, you can still expect a faster spin on just about everything else, as after all, it is an election year.
The dates you selected for our wedding and reception couldnít have been more beautiful weather-wise and more joyous heart-wise. Everyone was happy, including relatives who came from afar. Your input is always so helpful, Dennis, a must when planning meaningful events of all kinds.
Erica Helm Meade, MA, CMHC