Robert Gover (born November 2, 1929) grew up in an endowed orphanage (Girard College in Philadelphia), received a B.A. in Economics from the University of Pittsburgh, worked as a journalist, became a best-selling novelist at age 30, lived most of his life in California, and now lives in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. On the Run with Dick and Jane is his ninth novel. His previous book, Time and Money, explores economic and planetary cyclical correlations. His first novel, One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding, a satire on American racism, remains a cult classic that helped break down America’s fear of four-letter words and sexually explicit scenes, as well as sensitizing Americans to sanctimonious hypocrisy.
Saturn has been in harsh aspect to other outer planets during every instance of ruinous inflations since the one that brought down the Roman Empire. During 2007 into early 2008, Saturn was opposite Neptune. For most of 2008 through 2010, Saturn will be moving opposite Uranus. In 2010, the Saturn-Uranus opposition will form a T square with Pluto. This series of aspects promises a new burst of hyper-inflation that could become the worst in history.
Before exploring the astrology involved, some information about the phenomenon of inflation.
What all inflations have in common is the devaluation of a society’s money. Some inflations sneak up like a thief in the night. Others explode into reality. Inflations usually end in deflations-recessions or depressions.
A gold standard won’t prevent inflation, as the Roman Empire’s case demonstrated. Price controls have failed to stop it. It is not always caused by “too much money chasing too few goods,” as inflation during the Black Plague demonstrated. Inflation can’t be legislated out of existence. Once it works up a good head of steam, it will likely run its course before abating…although when it finally relents, politicians and economists will find rational reasons for why it was their wisdom and expertise that ended it.
In some instances, inflation has been a scapegoat for other problems—some people blame today’s gas price spikes on price manipulations in the financial community. Many blame growing demand from emerging nations. Few connect it to the devaluation (and/or inflation) of the dollar.
It’s long been known that oil is a finite resource, and that demand for oil is growing. Why didn’t the US Government prepare for the inevitable? The answer has to do with the powerful influence, in the form of campaign contributions, of oil companies on Congress. Oil companies have been the big winners in the recent spike of oil prices. The big loser has been the American middle class worker and consumer Higher prices at the gas pump raised the price of food and other commodities that rely on transportation. This coincided with a simultaneous crisis in real estate prices which rippled throughout the financial community and impacted big banks and a variety of investors, foreign and domestic.
To deal with the mortgage crisis, the Bush Administration “socialized the debt” by taking control of Fannie May and Freddie Mac on Sunday, September 7, 2008, piling new debt on old and transferring this new debt to future generations of taxpayers. This delayed the day of reckoning, virtually guaranteeing a potential monetary catastrophe. Socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the rest of the American population is likely to lead to revolution around 2015.
This latest inflation 2006-2008 occurred under a Saturn-Neptune opposition. Neptune erodes the status quo which Saturn strives to preserve. By mid-2008, a Saturn-Uranus opposition was beginning to have its effect. Other hyper-inflations have occurred under Saturn-Uranus or Saturn-Pluto oppositions. These planetary aspects do not cause inflation. They coincide with inflations that are ripe to happen. The stars influence but do not compel. Nations respond differently to the same celestial influences.
Brazil responded to the oil crisis of the 1970s by beginning to switch from imported oil to sugarcane ethanol. By 2007-2008 when the US economy was threatened by inflation of commodities and deflation of home prices, Brazil was poised to create greater prosperity.
The Saturn-Neptune opposition erodes status quos which have outlived their usefulness. Inflation occurs when it’s the nation’s monetary system that is ripe to erode.
When you examine the nuts and bolts of any period of inflation, it’s difficult to find a single reason to satisfy the rational mind. In the USA, there has been a long, steady, century of single-digit inflation which happened so slowly, most people didn’t notice—until the price of gas per gallon went from around $1.50 to $4.50 in 2008.
Back in 1950, a gallon of gas in the US cost around 25 cents. An ice cream cone that cost a nickel in 1950 now costs $2.50. This price rise happened so gradually that most Americans weren’t aware of it—until, perhaps, they went shopping to buy their first house and learned that the house their parents bought for, say, $25,000 was now priced at around $450,000.
Not everything inflates at the same rate. During the 20th Century, real estate inflated much more than most other things because homeowners are allowed a large tax deduction for mortgage costs. This drove home prices up by 3,000% or more since 1914.
Robber and Benefactor
Inflation robs some and benefits others. It generally robs most from those on fixed incomes, the working class and lenders/creditors. It benefits governments, property owners and borrowers/debtors. It enables borrowers to repay loans with devalued money. Lenders compensate by raising the cost of loans with a variety of fees.
These different factions of society often overlap and are in any case interdependent. A teacher whose salary is devastated by inflation may also be a property owner benefited by the same inflation. A large lending institution may be deep in debt to another creditor, and both may go under due to working class people forced by job losses to default on mortgages. This in turn impacts the ability of companies to borrow the money needed to expand, which means laying off more workers, causing more mortgage defaults, further constricting bank loans, and so on. Inflations come in a variety of severities. During the 20th Century a little inflation—4% to 6% a year—came to be seen as beneficial, at least by some economists. We want the value of money to be consistent, but the value of any form of money, in any time in history, has never been static. The price of bread rises or falls with the weather—a good harvest lowers the price, a bad harvest raises the price. Periods of expansion are inflationary as more money is issued into the economy and people buy things they would not buy in recessions or depressions.
During expansions, lenders lend money and borrowers borrow. When an economy constricts, lenders stop lending and few wish to borrow, reducing the amount of money in circulation, causing deflation.
Deflation favors lenders over borrowers. Falling prices may result from too much supply or too little demand. Too much supply can be a good thing. Too little demand is almost always bad. During inflations, borrowers pay lenders in dollars that won’t buy as much as when the money was loaned. During deflations, borrowers pay lenders in dollars that will buy more than when the money was loaned.
But, since deflations usually occur during recessions or depressions, borrowers may be forced to default on loans. For example, in 2008 as the home-loan bubble of the previous years was deflating—even while gas prcies were driving inflation—a record number of homeowners were defaulting on mortgages, especially Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs). Millions of homeowners suddenly found they had to pay doubte or triple their oriiginal monthly rate for homes that were rapidly losing market value. This combination of inflation of gas and other commodities at the same time real estate was deflating was excacerbated by a rise in unemployment. Government was urged to do something, anything, to avoid the dreaded “D word,” depression.
“For a while the bad-debt overhead can be bailed out by creating yet more debt, backed by public guarantees in what even the Wall Street Journal acknowledges is “socialism for the rich,” that is, privatizing the profit and socializing the losses…What ultimately supports the price of these mortgage packages is the price of the real estate pledged as collateral. And despite Mr. Greenspan’s celebration (as few years ago) of soaring housing prices as “wealth creation,” it really was debt creation. As housing prices plunge, the debts remain in place.” (“The Next Big Bailout” by Michael Hudson,)
The present monetary situation is further complicated by the huge and growing gap between rich and poor which has dramatically expanded in recent years. What we now have worldwide is what I call the Bifurcated Economy. The wealthy few live in a very different reality than the impoverished many. Statistics show that 2007 was one of the best years ever—for the wealthy few—as the global economy grew 4.9% to $66 trillion. At the same time, the impoverished many faced a rise in diseases and a growing scarcity of water and food, among other hardships.
When a government feels threatened, a little inflation tends to turn into rampant hyperinflation because governments print more currency to deal with emergencies. Runaway inflation’s ripple effect throughout a society can be more devastating than invading armies. While a government may benefit from repaying its debt in cheaper money due to inflation, it may be left with an ungovernable society in rebellion or chaos as people struggle to make ends meet with rapidly devaluing money. Wars pump tremendous amounts of new money into society while destroying things of real wealth.
The US Government privatized control of the US monetary system in December of 1913 when it created the Federal Reserve System, owned and operated by a small group of bankers with a fiduciary responsibility to provide profits for their shareholders. For the crisis building in 2008, that means big trouble ahead for the USA as a nation, as the Fed traditionally privatizes profits and socializes losses.
Astrologically, the Fed was “born” with Sun opposite Pluto (hidden conspirators opposed to the Government) and Jupiter opposite Neptune (economic expansion confused, or confusing to others). By 2008 when this latest financial crisis hit, Pluto had moved around the Zodiac to be opposite where it was when the Fed was born. The conspirators of the Fed are now, it seems, poised to be undone by their own conspiratorial machinations. The International Monetary Fund has announced it will audit the Fed and render its report in 2010.
During and after the last great depression, the belief arose that the Fed could, and should, exert controls that prevent inflation. By the end of the 20th Century, such controls were beginning to resemble a comic strip. The stock market crashed? Okay, lower interest rates to bring it back up. Whoops, the lowering of interest rates created a real estate bubble, which burst and rippled throughout the financial community, collapsing big banks. The Fed saved big banks with infusions of money to be repaid by future taxpayers, practically guaranteeing much worse future problems. And this little scenario omits global warming and the steady rise of more devastating weather events.
Money systems, once instituted, seem to develop a destiny of their own in sync with subtle forces beyond human control.
Since around 1900, periods of inflation have led to deflation. Under the Saturn-Neptune opposition of 2006-2008, the world watched commodity prices inflate while real estate prices deflated, war profits soared and weather-related catastrophes multiplied. Government allocated huge sums of money which were swallowed up by the rich and well connected, and never reached those in need. Hurricane Katrina became a bonanza for well-connected companies without helping hurricane victims. This evidence, and more, indicates the USA’s monetary system has become dysfunctional and is ripe to fall under the upcoming Saturn-Uranus opposition.
Historically, Saturn has been found in harsh aspect to the other outermost planets when either rampant inflation or depression hits. In an article titled “Grand Cross and Great Depressions,” (See Saptarishis Astrology Magazine Vol. 3, August 2008) I covered Saturn’s role in past great depressions. Let’s now look for Saturn’s role in periods of hyperinflation since year 1. The following list is of the worst, which leaves out many lesser inflations, including in the USA the OPEC spike of the 1970s.
Year of Inflation Aspect
150 Roman Empire Saturn in Cancer opposite Uranus in Capricorn
1350 Black Plague Saturn conjunct Pluto in Aries
1501 Europe gold imports Saturn in Taurus opposite Pluto in Scorpio T square Uranus in Aquarius
1720 John Law’s Mississippi
Bubble and South Sea Bubble Saturn in Scorpio opposite Neptune in Taurus both square Moon’s Nodes
1782 American Revolution Saturn 24 Sagittarius opposite Uranus 0 Cancer both square Mars in Pisces
1784 French Revolution Saturn in Taurus opposite Neptune in Scorpio Uranus in Leo opposite Pluto in Aquarius
1862 American Civil War Saturn and Jupiter conjunct in Virgo opposite Neptune in Pisces
1017-1923 Russian Revolution Saturn and Neptune in Leo opposite Uranus in Aquarius.
and German hyperinflation
1937 Chinese Revolution Saturn in Pisces opposite Neptune in Virgo, both square Chiron in Gemini and Moon’s Nodes
1965 Indian Inflation Saturn in Pisces opposite Uranus and Pluto conjunct in Virgo
2007-2010 USA Saturn in Leo opposite Neptune in Aquarius 2007
Saturn in Virgo opposite Uranus in Pisces 2008
Saturn-Neptune oppositions occur every 36 years on the average; Saturn-Uranus oppositions occur every 45 years; Saturn-Pluto oppositions once every 33.8. Planets are said to be in opposition when, from our perspective here on Earth, they are 180 degrees apart, putting we earthlings between them.
In 2006 and 2007, under the latest Saturn-Neptune opposition, the dollar was devaluing against other currencies and the present inflation was gathering momentum. As I write this in the summer of 2008, inflation in the USA has hit hard as we begin to come under a Saturn-Uranus opposition. A spike in the price of crude oil combined with the devaluing dollar to drive prices up at gas pumps, while at the same time real estate prices were deflating dramatically.
Saturn rules established systems. When opposed by Neptune, the established tends to become confused or problematic, fraught with dilemmas. When opposed by Uranus, the established may be overthrown by unexpected change or revolution. When opposed by Pluto, a major cultural change begins.
In the economic realm, these oppositions precipitate whatever conditions are ripe to manifest. Two Saturn-Uranus oppositions ago, in 1918, conditions in both Germany and Russia were ripe for revolution, accompanied by wild spikes of inflation. In the USA, women got the right to vote—although this wasn’t a bloody revolution like the one taking place in Russia, it certainly changed status quo politics in the USA
The present Saturn-Uranus opposition will become precise by Election Day, November 4, 2008. It will make four more successive “direct hits” during the coming two years: February 5 and September 15, 2009, and April 26 and July 26, 2010. The mood it brings will last through 2008 to the end of 2010.
This Saturn-Uranus opposition is likely to bring more drama in the USA than elsewhere because it will be part of a grand cross pattern to the USA’s natal Mars-Neptune square, which has a long history of coinciding with stock market panics. (“An Astrological History of Stock Market Panics,”).
Uranus and Empires
The inflation that coincided with the downfall of the Roman Empire ramped up during a long Saturn-Uranus opposition from 149 to 151. The Roman government had slowly but steadily devalued its coinage over the previous several hundred years. This inflation led Western Europe into the Dark Ages. Back then, economic events that now happen in weeks or months, happened in years or decades or centuries. By 411, when the 495-cyclical Neptune-Pluto conjunction occurred coinciding with what most historians cite as the end of the Roman Empire, the Roman monetary system was a wreck.
The inflation that characterized the end of the American Revolution also occurred under a Saturn-Uranus opposition. Not often emphasized in American history books is that the British printed fake Continental dollar bills and flooded the colonies with them. The newly created Continental dollar got the colonies through the Revolutionary War but the inflation caused by British counterfeiting led into the USA’s first great depression.
The inflation that began in Europe in 1501, when tons of gold and silver were being imported from the newly discovered Americas, occurred under Saturn square Uranus and Saturn opposite Pluto, with Pluto also square Uranus to form a T square. This inflation, with Pluto so involved, coincided with massive cultural changes on both sides of the Atlantic. Whole nations were wiped out by diseases imported from Europe. Modern estimates put their number in the hundreds of millions. It was a pandemic of diseases Native Americans had no immunity to that was the rational cause of this massive transformation.
By August 2010, we will be under another T square formed by Saturn in Libra opposite Uranus and Jupiter in Aries, with both square Pluto in Sagittarius. This T square will, in turn, afflict the USA’s natal Venus and Jupiter in the second house, nicknamed “the house of money” by astrologers.
This does not mean we are doomed to repeat the horrors of the early 1500s in the Americas. History repeats but does not rhyme, as Mark Twain observed. We look for what needs to change, or what is ripe to change. In our modern economy, the so-called “American Century,” what’s ripe to change is the monetary system—the way bankers conjure money out of thin air and lend it to politicians who pass the bill on to unwitting taxpayers.
In 1350, inflation coincided with Saturn opposite Pluto and the Black Death pandemic in Europe. This pandemic was almost as severe as the one that occurred about 150 years later in the Americas. One third of Europe’s population—20 million—died. The inflation that occurred simultaneously wasn’t another case of “too much money chasing too few goods.” The money supply remained constant. Commerce came to a near standstill because of the bubonic plague. Pluto opposite Saturn transforms established orders. The plague left European serfs freed from slavery and able to demand wages. (The Saturn-Pluto opposition of the early 1500s was not so kind to Native Americans, as it removed them from their lands and turned them in wage laborers.)
1720 in France, brought on by what history now calls “John Law’s Mississippi Bubble” simultaneous with the crash of the British South Sea Bubble. John Law’s story is fascinating, for it reveals both the advantages and dangers of a fiat paper money system.
1784: French Revolution, when Saturn was simultaneously also opposite Pluto. This revolution not only transformed France but also became the model for future revolutions against monarchies.
1862: the American Civil War. Inflation was brought on by European bankers aggressively selling money to the Confederate Government while the Union Government created most of its own money, the “Greenback.” Another example of how Neptune opposition Saturn changes the status quo.
1917: Russia’s Communist Revolution simultaneous with hyperinflation in Germany. Saturn and Neptune opposition Uranus. The Uranus-Neptune opposition occurs once every 171 years.
1937: China’s Communist Revolution. Saturn opposed Neptune as the Communists rebelled against the Nationalist Government, which was busy dealing with a Japanese invasion.
From the summer of 1945 to the summer of 1946, post-WW II Hungary’s currency suddenly inflated by a startling 400 octillion. Saturn was square Neptune through 1944 and 1945.
1965 in India, GDP grew 33% in the Sixties reaching a peak of 142% in the Seventies, decelerating sharply back to 41% in the Eighties and 20% in the Nineties. During the mid-sixties, Saturn was in Neptune-ruled Pisces, opposite a conjuncion of Uranus and Pltuo in Virgo.
Germany and Russia
The inflation that is probably the best known today—1923 in Germany when the mark devalued to practically zero—is a curious case. In 1923, Saturn, Uranus, Pluto and Jupiter formed 120-degrees trines to each other, and trines normally bring good times. The hyperinflation that climaxed in 1923 actually began during World War I under a Saturn-Pluto opposition in 1914, followed by a Saturn-Neptune opposition in 1915, which in turn was followed by a series of Saturn-Uranus oppositions 1918-1920. From 1917 to 1922, wholesale commodity prices rose 182 to 45,205 (based on 100 in 1914). By the end of 1923, under planetary trines, prices had rocketed up to 142,905,055,447,917. (1)
Simultaneous with the build-up to runaway inflation in Germany was the Russian Revolution, when, under Saturn-Neptune and Saturn Uranus oppositions, Russia suffered a dramatic devaluation of the ruble. The Bolsheviks dreamed of a world without money and—under the Saturn-Neptune opposition—used newly printed rubles to buy foods from peasants and transport these to industrial workers in cities. Peasants constituted 79% of the population then, and were largely self-sustaining and had nowhere to spend these rubles, so this money was virtually worthless. During the series of conflicts that resulted in the revolution, retail prices in Russia went from 1.00 in 1913 to 17,100,000,000 by 1924.
According to some sources (1), the Bolsheviks’ idea was to continue printing money until it became worthless, “thus allowing money to commit suicide.” The result was a thriving black market in consumer goods. This trend was arrested in 1921 when a market economy was reintroduced, with the government in control of banking, major industries and foreign trade.
With the industrial revolution beginning around 1776, inflations steadily increased in frequency and severity. Before paper currencies became ubiquitous during the 20th Century, periods of inflation were rare. The dollar is based on “the full faith and credit” of the US Government, not gold or silver or any other tangible asset. However, during the 20th Century “black gold,” oil, arose to become the basic measure of all currencies.
Americans are told by the mass media that they’d be paying even more for a gallon of gas if they lived in Europe. What this propaganda omits is that it now takes about a dollar and a half to buy one euro worth of gas. A hundred euros now buys about a hundred and fifty dollars worth. If the present downward trend of the dollar against the euro continues—and there are plenty of reasons to bet it will—the cost of gas in the USA will continue to inflate. The ripple effect of the dollar’s devaluation could cause runaway inflation throughout the US economy. Big agricultural corporations now ship food thousands of miles to markets, so rising fuel costs jack up food costs, as well as the cost of plastics and a variety of other products.
If American politicians were not so dependent upon big corporate campaign contributions, the USA could have begun decades ago to end the “addiction” to oil, as Brazil did.
Michael Hudson, in his essay referred to above, delivers the following analysis of how the system now works:
Rising debts and real estate prices go together, because asset prices depend on how much banks will lend. For creditors, the dream is to obtain an ultimate backup at public expense: government insurance that they will not lose when debtors are unable to pay. The political problem is how to get the government to insure and protect bankers rather than debtors, given that debtors are much more numerous when it comes to the voting booth. In such cases campaign contributions are the balancing factor. Governments are “privatized” and “financialized,” that is, turned from democracies into oligarchies. The banking system aims to make sure that the only losers are the customers it is supposed to serve: debtors, homeowners and employees of companies being “financialized” as the economy is de-industrialized. Indeed, financialization and de-industrialization are becoming almost synonymous. The trick is to get voters to think they are getting rich while actually they are being painted into a debt corner, along with their employers, local government and the federal government too.
What makes voters think they are getting rich is numerically more money in their paychecks. But past a certain point, pay raises cannot keep up with debt creation and the inflation imposed by the Fed printing more and more dollars to deal with more and more debt. Not for no reason is inflation called “the hidden tax.”
Once inflation is precipitated and building momentum, a government trying to stop it is comparable to the apocryphal King ordering ocean tides to stop rising. It also illustrates the astrological reading of Saturn opposite Neptune: the established order eroded by a subtle, relentless, eroding assault. Unlike rising tides, inflation is man-made. Yet past a certain point, inflation becomes like a force of nature.
Today, all modern societies operate on paper money. This paper would be worthless were it not for the backing of governmental authority, so in a sense it’s faith-based money.
The first use of faith-based paper money was in China. The time of its origin is disputed. Probably it was first used in 177 BC. It was also introduced during the Song Dynasty from 960 to 1279 when the Chinese governmental aparatus of “mandarinates” produced notes of credit, and declared them legal tender. This issue of paper money was easy to counterfeit. The resulting inflation drove the Chinese of that time to prefer bank checks, which eventually caught on around the world.
Despite much opinion to the contrary, paper money cannot be blamed for inflation. What makes paper money vulnerable is that it’s cheap to make and easy to carry around. Some people carry creit cards giving them the ability to borrow over half a million dollars in an hour or two. The US Government has the aiblity to borrow trillions of dollars from the Fed, and pass the bill to future generations of taxpayers as the so-called “national debt.”
In September 2008 when the Fed agreed to subsidize the big financial institutions that had crashed (due to the housing crisis), it added around a trillion dollars to the debt that must be repaid by the public in the coming years—unless, of course, the system collapses and is rebuilt from scratch, as happened in the 1920s in Germany and Russia under a previous Saturn-Uranus opposition. When this latest Saturn-Uranus opposition forms a T square with Pluto in 2010, we can look for a revolution of the monetry system.
Commodity money—cattle, tobacco, silver, gold, etc.—is valuable in and of itself. Even in times and places where gold was not used as money, it was valued by artists and craftsmen. When gold has been minted into coins used as a society’s means of exchange (money’s most basic use), it has proven vulnerable to inflation caused by clipping, “sweating” or blending with cheaper metals. The inflation that laid low the Roman Empire—primarily caused by the government devaluing its coin money by blending—was also blamed on coin clipping and sweating (a way of using heat to leach the precious metal out of coins).
People who believe astrology is supersittious nonsense point to current events to explain the present spike of inflation in the USA. From an astrological perspective, planetary cycles act on the invisible causal realm to manifest such events. Today’s inflation is manfesting the latest Saturn-Neptune opposition. What will be happening by 2010-2012 will be manifesting the Saturn-Uranus oppositon that is now forming. From the modern scientific perspective, no cause-effect medium or material link has been found to verify this. Over the past six or more millennia, astrologers have made peace with the fact that we do not know how or why certain planetary angles bring subtle moods that influence events characterized by the aspecting planets. It’s a mystery reminding us that we are not masters of the universe.
Both planetary aspects and inflations tend to build like ocean waves. We can trace a slow but relentless inflation building in the USA since 1914 when the Federal Reserve System began operating under a Sun-Pluto opposition. It has had smaller crests and troughs over the last century but now appears poised to become a tsunami, leaving a swash of deflation, depression.
Since the Fed was created, the dollar has devalued (and/or inflated) by an average off, 929%. Something that cost $100 in 1914 cost $2,029 by 2006. Since the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008, the rate of inflation has risen steeply.
Neptune’s eroding of established Saturnian systems will most impact whatever we are most focused upon. The previous Saturn-Neptune opposition formed in 1971-72 to coincide with what’s called the OPEC inflation. Americans were focused on the War in Vietnam and the Nixon Administration. There was an erosion of the established poltiical order, as Nixon was forced to leave office or face impeachment.
The latest Saturn-Neptune opposition impacts the financial realm because it has become our focus of attention. It’s become our focus of attention because it’s become dysfunctinoal. It needs to be changed.
Meanwhile, Pluto has moved around the Zodiac to a point opposite where it was when the Fed was created. Pluto’s eliptical orbit makes it appear to move irregularly during its 248 year cycle. In Sagittarius where it now is, Pluto becomes philosophical, religious and spiritual. In Capricorn where it will soon be, it becomes practical and goal-oriented. The goal of any monetary system is to spread prosperity to all secrors of society. By 2020, we may find that money has become a public utility rather than a tool of politial power.
- For an in-depth examination of historic inflations, see An Analysis and History of Inflation by Dan Pearlberg, Praeger, Westport, CT, 1993. This book of only 186 pages sells for around $100, a price that reflects Pearlberg’s exhaustive scholarly research in rare combination with his abiltiy to explain this complex and highly technical subject.