Can Astrology Explain the Financial Crisis?

October 15, 2008 05:10 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
Some observers blame Mercury retrograde for the turbulent financial markets, highlighting the theory that in times of crisis, people turn to superstition.

Mercury Retrograde Fallout?

Mercury retrograde, a phenomenon in which the planet Mercury appears to be moving backward, typically happens about three times a year. According to Huffington Post astrologer Liz Rose, the current Mercury retrograde period began on Sept. 24 and ends on Oct. 15, and “is notorious for communications gone awry.” Furthermore, Mercury retrograde can result in “delays in plans due to the need to review, rethink or reanalyze a situation that doesn’t have real clarity at the moment,” Rose writes.

Commentators on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” discussed Mercury retrograde and superstitious financial beliefs tied to it. Kevin Ferry of Cronus Futures Management said to “expect more wild and untrended movements in the market until this ends.” Ferry also noted that it is unwise to “make massive decisions during Mercury retrograde.”

The Panelist blogger Deborah Evans concurs. During Mercury retrograde, “financial markets tend to act unpredictably as choppy and volatile conditions prevail,” she writes. Evans also called the problems surrounding the bailout bill “a classic example of the challenges of trying to push new legislation through during Mercury retrograde.”

Background: Imposing order on chaos

Throughout history, people have turned to superstition and conspiracy theory when faced with hard times, reports Canwest News Service. For example, during World War II, rumors spread that during the bombing of London, only areas populated with Nazi sympathizers escaped bombing. Similarly, some contend that the current financial crisis was intentionally caused by the United States government “to persuade people a massive financial bailout is needed.”

Canwest cites a recent article in the journal Science that said scientists now believe that conspiracy theories and superstitions arise from the “need to impose order on chaos.”

The BBC also addressed the Science study, pointing out “that humans cope with feeling out of control by trying to impose order subconsciously.” The researchers concluded that forms of illusion, “from conspiracy theories to superstitions, stem from the same basic subconscious problem, and that it may be contributing to the current havoc on the world’s financial markets.”

Related Material: Hemlines and the economy

Fashion shows have still gone on during the financial crisis, though with a touch of superstition.

At Paris Fashion Week in September, “designers appeared to be doing their best to buck up ailing financial markets,” reported the Houston Chronicle. Runways showed short dresses and skirts, which some experts view as an indication of financial well-being. “Skirt hems rose in the 1920s and in the 1960s along with stock prices. Floor-length styles appeared in the 1930s and 1970s, and stocks plummeted,” reports the Chronicle.

“We've seen a lot of very short clothes, which goes against the old idea that when the economy is bad, hemlines go down,” said Alexandra Shulman of British Vogue, according to the Associated Press.

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