Kenneth Bowser

kennethbowser@westernsiderealastrology.com

612-331-1475

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The U.S. Stock Market

1929 Versus 2017

June 2017

The similarities between 1929 and 2017 are striking in terms of astrological symbolism. The two years are compared below.  The charts referred to are the horoscope for the U.S. that answers to primary directions: July 4, 1776 at 12:16 pm LMT at Philadelphia; the Buttonwood Agreement, which was the first step taken to form an American stock market: May 17, 1792 at 11:56:03 am LMT (which is local apparent noon) at New York, New York; and the sidereal solar returns for the U.S. for 2016 and 2017 set up for New York, New York.

 

There were ten main features in 1929 that symbolized, in their aggregate, extreme instability in American financial markets that culminated in the crash of October 1929.  Except for the Pluto transits, all of these elements are fairly common, but it is uncommon for all of them to appear at once. 

1929 Aspects

 

Transiting Saturn opposite the U.S. natal Mars which was continuous throughout 1929 until December

Transiting Pluto square the U.S. natal Saturn which was continuous throughout 1929.

 

Transiting Pluto conjoined to the U.S. natal Sun which was continuous throughout 1929.

 

Transiting Neptune square the natal Sun of the Buttonwood Agreement which was continuous throughout 1929.

 

Transiting Neptune inconjunct the U.S. natal Pluto which was continuous within two degrees from January  through early September 1929.

 

Transiting Neptune semi-square the U.S. natal Saturn which was continuous within two degrees from late July  through the end of 1929.

 

Transiting Saturn square the U.S. natal Neptune which was continuous throughout 1929 until December.

 

Transiting Saturn mundane square transiting Neptune through the latitude of lower Manhattan within four   minutes of sidereal time (1°) between October 3 and November 7, 1929.  That is, Saturn set in mundo at New York as Neptune passed through the I.C. within one degree every day for five weeks. 

 

Transiting Saturn semi-sextile the U.S. natal Pluto continuously within two degrees from early February to mid June and early November to mid December 1929.

 

The sidereal solar return of the U.S. chart for 1929 had the solar return Moon opposite the U.S. natal Pluto, 0°  39' from exact.

There are nearly always several troublesome aspects in play at any moment that promote loss and difficulty as well as those that simultaneously promote advance and success; but when all four of the natal malefics ((Mars, Saturn, Neptune and Pluto) are configured with transiting malefics, the table is set for uncommon difficulty.  In the case of the United States, this is especially true because the U.S. has Sun square Saturn as a natal condition (1° 40' from exact) as well as Mars square Neptune (1° 11' from exact); so malefic transits to both of those combinations at the same time instantly engage three natal malefics as well as the Sun. 

 

Transiting Saturn opposite natal Mars generally puts a brake on what, up to that time, has been advancing unimpeded. Depending on what else is in play, it acts to slow, stop or reverse progress. Trouble appears in the guise of competition, legal or government issues, lack of labor, lack of availability of raw materials, a soft market or a business or government destroyed by war, fire or other calamity. Sometimes if good things are in play at the same time, a design flaw is discovered that makes a product not ready for release.  That is a blessing in disguise because the fix may preclude a recall that can be devastating to the reputation of a company or individual. Accordingly the U.S. slowed down a lot in 1929 before the crash in terms of sales of cars, houses, other consumer goods as well as iron and steel production.

Significantly, however, after a mini-crash in March 1929 the market soared from the middle of May to the first week of September on the strength of transiting Uranus closely square the U.S. Jupiter. Transiting Uranus was stationary on July 18, 1929 while the zodiac square to the U.S. natal Jupiter was more than three and a third degrees from exact; but the mundane square of transiting Uranus to the ex-precessed U.S. natal Jupiter was more than twice as close at one and a quarter degrees from exact at the latitude of New York. In addition, transiting Jupiter was conjoined to the U.S. natal Uranus on August 6, 1929 and transiting Jupiter was sextile transiting Uranus the next day, August 7, 1929 to form combinations in three ways between transiting Jupiter, the U.S. natal Jupiter, transiting Uranus and the U.S. natal Uranus—a truly extraordinary and rare situation. 

 

Transiting Uranus held the square to the U.S. Jupiter for three months. During that period the Dow-Jones Industrial Average gained almost ninety points, a more than twenty-two percent increase in that average in only 100 days which had dipped below 300 in May and raced to the then all-time high of 381 points on September 3, 1929.  Uranus to natal Jupiter and Jupiter to natal Uranus are extremely powerful upside combinations in any configuration. Transiting Uranus to natal Jupiter is better because it is usually slower; that is, longer lasting. Transiting Uranus was sextile the U.S. natal Uranus during this entire summer period which also inclines toward successfully going against the tide: in this case, the ebb tide of dwindling real growth. The Republican administration of Herbert Hoover, almost wholly unwilling to do anything to restrain business, abdicated its fiduciary responsibility to the nation and as a result bears partial responsibility for the 1929 crash.  The lack of action and foresight on the part of politicians and especially, the misinterpreted appearance of growth based on unlimited and ill-conceived credit, became a form of financial sleight of hand that completely took over the American market. The crash of 2008, during another Republican administration, developed on the same basis.

Transiting Pluto square the natal Saturn is a crisis in the horoscope of any individual, organization or country. Only simultaneous transits of Venus, Jupiter and Uranus can render it into something organic that entails a gain through a loss. Fixed conditions change; established patterns reach a stage of obsolescence. Policies that have worked until this transit comes into play are discarded which is disruptive to tradition, continuity and habits. For a country it’s occasionally like being on the receiving end of a right cross—left hook, one-two combination. One may be hit so hard that Pluto square natal Saturn is like being knocked down, and sometimes knocked out.  The wild ride of the “roaring twenties” came to a crashing end in 1929 that instantly produced losses of fortunes, unemployment, business failures on a massive scale, widespread dismay and the end of surety.

Transiting Neptune square the Sun weakens an organization or the government, especially trust in the government, and at the same time expands it: the very things that are anethema to Republican administrations. When Neptune was in sidereal Leo, (1925-1939) Keynesian economics (from John Maynard Keynes, 1883-1946, the noted British economist who lost his fortune in the 1929 crash) was the order of the day in the United States. Keynes’ ideas, still employed today, argue for government intervention to stimulate demand, i.e., deficit spending partially funds the government which expands but on the basis of borrowed money.  Transiting Neptune to the Sun has a similar effect. When Neptune configures the natal Sun, executive power and prestige may be reduced or tainted to the point where the native or organization may appear ineffectual. In order to benefit from this contact the simultaneous presence of the benefics is necessary which can produce inspiration, artistic excellence or unearned benefits of all kinds but the intrinsic nature of Neptune should not be downplayed to conform with some modern ideas that exculpate the malefic nature of the planet. Neptune is generally difficult and hard to manage.

Transiting Pluto conjoined to the Sun is usually hard. Many people speak of “transformation” regarding anything that relates to Pluto, and it does symbolize a transition of sorts, but Pluto transits are rarely a bucolic rendering of a moth into a butterfly; rather Pluto signifies a blast of fierce winds and heat: like a tough, grizzled sergeant berating troops to engage to avert disaster with nothing but their resolve. When it is not violent, it is still usually a harsh transit, emotionally trying and is very often characterized by the end of long-term conditions that leave the native alone, desperate and sometimes wounded. Accordingly, the U.S. was struck a blow at the end of the 1920s that laid her low for ten years.

 

Transiting Neptune inconjunct the U.S, Pluto has a strong element of inevitability about it because transiting Neptune to natal Pluto compromises one’s independence. It symbolizes deflation which consistently takes many years to overcome.  It hurts business badly because loans, which are very much symbolized by Neptune, are either radically reduced or credit is issued without regard to the credit worthiness of customers. Banks are stressed under this transit. Business is either curtailed while this transit is on—other things not considered—or too much credit is issued that cannot be repaid and ultimately has to be written off. During 1929 a huge number of banks were playing the stock market with depositors’ money that was ultimately lost when thousands of banks subsequently failed.

Transiting Neptune semi-square the U.S. Saturn is very damaging to a business climate although, like Neptune inconjunct the U.S. Pluto, it may not seem so at first. The boundaries, rules, laws and limits that may serve to protect one’s situation, and especially the security of one’s life, are at risk under this transit. The danger lies in the distinct tendency of prudent, conservative management to be ignored, forgotten or contravened due, in this case, to a frenzy to cash in on what ultimately proved to be an elusive bubble.  Nineteen twenty-nine started out in unremarkable fashion and stumbled in February, March and May, but in June when transiting Uranus came to the square of the U.S. Jupiter, all restraint was abandoned in spite of a warning from the Fed (the Federal Reserve: the de facto central bank of the U.S. that sets monetary policy) against speculation in February and March 1929.  In August 1929 the Federal Reserve Bank of New York raised the discount rate to 6% to no avail. The discount rate is the interest rate attached to loans to commercial banks from the various Federal Reserve Banks.

Transiting Saturn semi-sextile the U.S. Pluto is a combination that frequently times crises because it signifies a breaking point. Most astrologers relegate semi-sextiles into insignificance, but they have a distinct affect when they are close, especially within one degree. The crisis of 2008—the worst financial calamity since 1929—was timed by transiting Saturn sesquiquadrate the U.S. Pluto. What has been held back or appeared to be gaining strength to the consternation of everyone becomes a wave that breaks over the heads of  everybody who lives under the purview—that is to say, within the borders of a nation—that has its Pluto hit by transiting Saturn. It’s like pins being knocked down by a bowling ball.  Nothing can be done about it in its initial stages. Transiting Saturn to natal Pluto lets you know that you’ve passed beyond the point of no return. It’s a slippery slope that has to be played out because the inertia of this kind of calamity is greater than the forces that would otherwise constrain it.  The crash that began, actually in September 1929, did not hit bottom until July of 1932 when the New York Stock Exchange had lost 89% of its September 3, 1929 value, which was more than the cost of World War I. The Dow-Jones Industrial Average did not regain its September 3, 1929 high of 381 points until 1954.

Transiting Saturn square the U.S. Neptune is highly symbolic of being caught, compromised or trapped.  Sometimes it is merely awkward, embarrassing or scandalous; nonetheless the native or an entire nation often finds itself in jeopardy due to foolish, greedy or irresponsible actions on a large scale. At best it gives profound religious experience or particular talent for navigating through various types of abstraction; but in mundane astrology it depresses prices, especially liquid commodities like oil, as well as insurance and loans. In other words, it creates an environment for cheap money, which in turn creates a climate for the rapid advance of commodities because interest rates are too low. The problem with this combination in real world terms is that the gains realized under its auspices are not lasting. People often feel under this transit like the rug has been pulled out from beneath their feet. With governments this combination suggests poor leadership often in the guise of a laissez-faire policy that allows business to run itself into the ground.  Most of the boom-bust cycles in the United States are a result of unrestrained business activity that is responsible only to shareholders and sometimes not even them.  The general public ultimately pays the price.

When both Saturn and Neptune engage as transiting bodies there is often hell to pay in a form that relates to business or religious fraud. When this pair was trine in 2001 the lid finally came off the efforts of the Catholic Church to escape responsibility for harboring sexual predators and pedophiles in the priesthood for centuries.  The main elements of this matter related to shameful things perpetrated in secret against the innocent by those who defiled their vows and subjected their victims to untold stress, betrayal and psychological harm.  This contact is very difficult and relates to scandal, of course, but more significantly, it undermines trust.  Very consistently what, until this combination comes into play, has been concealed is finally revealed. It only works out well with the simultaneous transits of the benefics. Failing that, it relates to humiliation, damage to one’s reputation and severe losses in general. It was this combination more than any other that timed the losses sustained in 1929. The form it took was a mundane square that formed up in the summer of 1929 at the latitude of New York City.

On September 3, 1929 the Dow-Jones Industrial Average reached its then all-time high of 381.17 points. The Moon was square Jupiter only one minute of arc short of the exact square at the close that day (the market closed at 3:00 pm in those days) which is excellent symbolism for a good trading day. But there was negative symbolism moving into play that would overwhelm all upside elements. That strengthening symbolism was related to Saturn and Neptune in three ways: on September 3, transiting Saturn was square the U.S. natal Neptune, applying, 38 minutes from exact; transiting Neptune was semi-square the U.S. Saturn, applying, 27 minutes from exact; and most important, transiting Saturn was mundane square transiting Neptune only 3m 46s of sidereal time from exact. Saturn and Neptune had been mundo square exact to the second three weeks before on August 14, 1929, but the Jupiter-Uranus elements were too close and strong to be overwhelmed by Saturn and Neptune in August.

Saturn turned direct on August 29, 1929.  Usually the last station of a slow moving body has the most telling effect.  With Saturn direct, the Saturn-Neptune mundo square was primed to repeat but this time without Jupiter and Uranus combined to intercede. Four minutes of sidereal time equals one degree. The one degree threshold is the point at which any aspect in mundo or zodiaco exerts tremendous power. The market immediately slumped after September 3rd as the Saturn-Neptune aspects gained strength.  Seven weeks later the market had lost, via steady contraction, twenty per cent of its September 3rd value.

 

On Thursday October 24 there was a huge and precipitous drop, that was nevertheless steadied and buoyed up by institutional buying such that the market was down only 2% for the day, still a substantial decline. The Saturn-Neptune mundo square was only 13 seconds of sidereal time from exact that day; that is, transiting Saturn set in mundo at New York only thirteen seconds of sidereal time before transiting Neptune passed through the I.C. 

The aspect was exact to the second over the weekend. On Monday—Black Monday— October 28, 1929 the market collapsed and lost 12.8% percent of its remaining value. On Tuesday October 29, 1929—Black Tuesday—the market lost another 11.73% of its remaining value.  In five days the American stock market had lost 25% of its value, in addition to the 20% already lost before then. Saturn-Neptune often represents the collapse of a floor that has consistently supported prices or the collapse of a position that has been a dam or bulwark against disaster. A similar loss in terms of the value of the money of today would have approached a trillion dollars. Millions of  people, major players and small investors alike, in the U.S. and abroad, were completely wiped out, every penny of their life savings and investment portfolio gone in a handful of days.

 

In November 1929 transiting Uranus came again to the square to the U.S. Jupiter and the slide was halted. In December some of the transits that were corollaries to the debacle waned and the market made up lost ground. By April 1930 the Dow Jones Industrial Average had climbed back to 294 points which was 77% of the September 3, 1929 figure.  But it collapsed again in May 1930 and by the end of 1930 the Dow was at 160. The Dow ratcheted down to 41 (!) in July 1932. By 1932 the Gross Domestic Product of the country was $58 billion versus $104 billion in 1929. More than 2,400 banks had failed.  Unemployment had reached 15 million which was more than 25% of the workforce.  The steel industry was operating at 20% of capacity.

The sidereal solar return Moon for the U.S. in 1929 was closely opposite natal Pluto which points to disaster pure and simple; and since it was natal Pluto, the trouble came from within our borders and not an external source.

 

The 1920s in the United States were for the most part a time of accelerated growth, especially from 1924 until the crash five years later.  The growth, however, was too fast to sustain.  In the first phase of the meteoric rise of the 1920s the market gained 19% in 1924 and 24% in 1925. The market was flat in 1926. In the second phase in 1927 the market gained 22% on the year and 32% in 1928 amidst wild trading.  During the winter of 1928, for example, the radio craze that had begun in 1924, sent RCA (Radio Corporation of America) stock up $61 in four days.  In the third and final phase of this longest running bull market to date (at the time), that began in 1929, the market was extremely sluggish until the summer.  After the summer rise that had pulled virtually everybody into stocks who could manage it by all manner of means, the bottom fell out of this grossly over-bought market and virtually everybody was left holding the bag, except the scarce few who had discerned what was coming and got out early with staggering profits.

The Present Day

 

The reason I have recounted these things in some detail is because 2017 is very similar to 1929. The factors that obtain now, many of which will also be in play well into 2018 are as follows:

 

Transiting Saturn opposite the U.S. natal Mars continuous throughout 2017 and exact in June and October  2017. 

 

Transiting Pluto square the U.S. natal Saturn continuous throughout 2017 and exact in February, July and December.

Transiting Saturn square the U.S. natal Neptune continuous throughout 2017 and exact in February, May and November 2017.

 

Transiting Pluto opposite the U.S. natal Sun continuous throughout 2017 and exact in February and June  2017.

 

Transiting Neptune semi-square the U.S. natal Pluto, 1°40' from exact (June 2017), exact 5/4/18, 8/4/18 and    3/1/19.

 

Transiting Neptune trine the U.S. natal Sun, 2° out in the summer of 2017, exact in its station in June 2018 and throughout 2018. 

 

Transiting Neptune semi-square the Buttonwood Agreement Saturn, continuous throughout 2017 and only 16 minutes of arc from exact in Neptune’s June 2017 station.

 

Transiting Saturn mundane square transiting Neptune for the latitude of  #11 Wall St. (40°N42' 28") within one degree from June 29, 2017 through and including October 2, 2017; the Saturn-Neptune paran is exact to the second on July 15 and September 17, 2017. 

 

Transiting Neptune sesquiquadrate Buttonwood Agreement Neptune, 1°35' from exact in transiting Neptune's June 2017 station, exact to the minute 4/30/18, 8/8/18, and 2/27/19.

 

Transiting Saturn opposite the U.S. natal Venus-Jupiter conjunction throughout all of 2018.

 

The 2016 Sidereal Solar Return Moon is semi-square the U.S. Saturn, 0° 25' from exact.  The 2017 sidereal solar return Moon is in 13° Sagittary 50', less than a third of a degree from where transiting Saturn will station in April  2018.

Most of these contacts were explained in the part that deals with 1929. Their affects in 2017 and beyond are not different than in 1929.

 

Neptune to the natal Neptune is usually quite unsatisfying because the native or nation finds himself wanting in respect of performance, achievement and rank. It is also inclined toward hysteria and the view that the sky is falling, as it were. Neptune exaggerates everything. Worry, dissatisfaction and being reduced, due to stress, to a state of befuddlement are its most extreme effects. More often one notes that one’s career or country is in the midst of a downhill slide that is unnerving. It is hard to counter. Usually, although far from invariably, Neptune to natal Neptune seems worse than it really is; but in a genuinely bad situation the contact definitely exacerbates the situation.

Transiting Jupiter to natal Saturn is very good because it tends to reduce or pay off debt and repair or replace, broken or obsolescent equipment.  It is also good for the acquisition of houses and land. Transiting Saturn to the natal Jupiter, in the absence of helpful rays from other bodies, does just the opposite. Debt is incurred, credit denied, expansion stops and difficulties mount. To many people, their most valuable asset: their reputation, is damaged, when transiting Saturn opposes their natal Jupiter.

 

Transiting Saturn to the natal Venus is hurtful to the people who are loved and liked. Usually this transits hits one’s children, one’s siblings and one’s friends before it works on lovers and spouses, therefore its ability to destroy romance is over-rated, although problems between lovers will have to be addressed during this transit. That tendency points to how the major influence of this combination works out with a country or government: it confounds relationships between allies. If we were to offend the British, for example, as well as other Europeans, our dearest friends, they would probably not turn their backs on us, but they would indicate their displeasure, turn away from us, which would surely sting in many quarters, as well as limit cooperation on many fronts.

The Trigger

 

It is quite remarkable that the mundane square between Saturn and Neptune that effectively timed the debacle in 1929 reappears in the summer and early fall of 2017.  Aspects in mundo are local, i.e. particular to a terrestrial latitude, whereas Saturn square the U.S. Neptune in the zodiac doesn’t necessarily operate specifically through New York City when the zodiac square is exact. Unlike 1929 when the Saturn-Neptune mundane square appeared on the inferior angles, the 2017 Saturn-Neptune mundo square appears on the superior angles: Neptune rises as Saturn culminates in the mid-heaven at New York City in July through September, which probably brackets the worst of the market’s troubles in 2017.

 

Two of the major economic bellwethers are in decline of late: sales of houses and cars and a third market is saturated: computers. Everybody has one now. In the 1920s the eventual crash was signaled by much the same things: in 1929 it was houses, cars, radios and electric appliances.  By 1929, the middle class had all those things. They even had radios in cars. Now everybody has a cell phone and even movies in cars.

Finally, the 2016-2017 sidereal solar return Moon configured with Saturn is depressing and symbolic of loss, but the major message of the solar return will probably not be brought home until transiting Mars gets involved with the angles of the solar return as well as the U.S. Sun, the U.S. Saturn, solar return Pluto and transiting Pluto. The relevant dates are:

Transiting Mars opposite solar return Pluto: June 29, 2017.

Transiting Mars conjoined to the U.S, Sun: June 29, 2017.

Transiting Mars conjoined to the solar return I.C., July 1, 2017 for Washington D.C. and July 4, 2017 for  New York, New York.

Transiting Mars square the U.S. Saturn, July 2, 2017.

Transiting Mars opposite transiting Pluto, July 2, 2017.

Transiting Mars conjoined to solar return Mercury, July 2, 2017.

Transiting Mars semi-square solar return Moon, July 2, 2017.

​After these Mars transits, the Saturn-Neptune mundo square, which was the key to 1929, will become exact to the second, as already mentioned, on July 15 and September 17. There are two saving graces which may forestall the worst until the late summer: transiting Jupiter will square the U.S. Sun on July 28, 2017 and transiting Jupiter will conjoin the U.S. Saturn on August 9, 2017. Transiting Jupiter to the Sun often grants a momentary reprieve in the midst of chaos and Jupiter to Saturn tends to address what is broken and needs attention.  The government therefore won’t be standing by twiddling its thumbs waiting for the market to right itself as in 1929.  On the other hand, serious trouble is waiting in the wings and transiting Jupiter will soon be picking up speed.  The ability of benefics to help is modest when they streak by, fast in motion.  The planetary symbolism for trouble for the U.S. is mostly slow in motion.

The Dow-Jones Industrial Average quadrupled between 1924 and 1929 but it increased almost six-fold in the eight years between its low in 1921 of 63.9 and the 1929 high of 381.17. The current market has more than tripled in eight years since the beginning of the current bull market in March of 2009.  Those rates of increase, now as then, are unsustainable. The two most fundamental elements of 1929: transiting Saturn opposite the U.S. Mars and transiting Pluto square the U.S. Saturn are revisited in 2017 with a host of other factors—most of them the same ones that accompanied the 1929 debacle. My opinion is that the current situation, that is mid-year 2017, breaks the bull market that began in March 2009 and that the market will be down for between a year and a half to two years. But it’s not that simple. I think the market will fall in stages.

 

The 2017-18 sidereal solar return Moon has mundo squares to solar Jupiter and solar Uranus which are both quite auspicious.  That Moon is also opposite the U.S. natal Venus-Jupiter conjunction. Therefore, I think the 2017-18 pattern will be similar to the 1929-30 pattern.  That is, after initial shocks and severe plunges, I think the market will recover a lot of lost ground in the fourth quarter of 2017 only to be crushed in the spring of 2018 when transiting Saturn in its station settles over the 2017-18 U.S. sidereal solar return Moon.