The Great Recession – the period post the financial and sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2007/08/09
I am very interested in this concept of history repeating itself. We use this term in our everyday language. When one reflects on historical events, themes do seem to repeat over time. Why is that? Because planetary cycles repeat themselves over time. What got me thinking about this was the current global economic situation.
When one looks back in history to the Great Depression, there had been a few years of recession prior to the stock market crash on 24th October 1929. Then the world entered another period of recession which lasted 43 months. It was only after this time that the period in history called the Great Depression began. The years 1932 to 1933 were classified as the Great Depression. During this time the USA also went off the Gold Standard. Wealth evaporated, many banks were forced to close and unemployment increased to record levels.
This period in history is characterised by the planetary cycle of transiting Uranus squaring transiting Pluto. This cycle began in June 1931 and ended in Feb 1934 (using a 1 degree orb) and was the most prominent planetary cycle in the years of the Great Depression.
I wanted to get a good understanding of what went down in history during this time so that we could have a better understanding of current times.
Below are extracts from the website www.history.com to expand on the historical events of this time.
US Stock Market Crash on 24 October 1929
During the mid- to late 1920’s, the stock market in the United States underwent rapid expansion. It continued for the first six months following President Herbert Hoover’s inauguration in January 1929. The prices of stocks soared to fantastic heights in the great “Hoover bull market,” and the public, from banking and industrial magnates to chauffeurs and cooks, rushed to brokers to invest their surplus or their savings in securities, which they could sell at a profit. Billions of dollars were drawn from the banks into Wall Street for brokers’ loans to carry margin accounts. The spectacles of the South Sea Bubble and the Mississippi Bubble had returned. People sold their Liberty Bonds and mortgaged their homes to pour their cash into the stock market. In the midsummer of 1929 some 300 million shares of stock were being carried on margin, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a peak of 381 points in September. Any warnings of the precarious foundations of this financial house of cards went unheeded.
Prices began to decline in September and early October, but speculation continued, fuelled in many cases by individuals who had borrowed money to buy shares—a practice that could be sustained only as long as stock prices continued rising. On October 18 the market went into a free fall, and the wild rush to buy stocks gave way to an equally wild rush to sell. The first day of real panic, October 24, is known as Black Thursday; on that day a record 12.9 million shares were traded as investors rushed to salvage their losses. Still, the Dow average closed down only six points after a number of major banks and investment companies bought up great blocks of stock in a successful effort to stem the panic that day. Their attempts, however, ultimately failed to shore up the market.
The panic began again on Black Monday (October 28), with the market closing down 12.8 percent. On Black Tuesday (October 29) more than 16 million shares were traded. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost another 12 percent and closed at 198 — a drop of 183 points in less than two months. Prime securities tumbled like the issues of bogus gold mines. General Electric fell from 396 on September 3 to 210 on October 29. American Telephone and Telegraph dropped 100 points. DuPont fell from a summer high of 217 to 80, United States Steel from 261 to 166, Delaware and Hudson from 224 to 141, and Radio Corporation of America (RCA) common stock from 505 to 26. Political and financial leaders at first affected to treat the matter as a mere spasm in the market, vying with one another in reassuring statements. President Hoover and Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon led the way with optimistic predictions that business was “fundamentally sound” and that a great revival of prosperity was “just around the corner.” Although the Dow Jones Industrial Average nearly reached the 300 mark again in 1930, it sank rapidly in May 1930. Another 20 years would pass before the Dow average regained enough momentum to surpass the 200-point level.
Many factors likely contributed to the collapse of the stock market. Among the more prominent causes were the period of rampant speculation (those who had bought stocks on margin not only lost the value of their investment, they also owed money to the entities that had granted the loans for the stock purchases), tightening of credit by the Federal Reserve (in August 1929 the discount rate was raised from 5 percent to 6 percent), the proliferation of holding companies and investment trusts (which tended to create debt), a multitude of large bank loans that could not be liquidated, and an economic recession that had begun earlier in the summer.
The Great Depression Begins: The Stock Market Crash of 1929
As consumer confidence vanished in the wake of the stock market crash, the downturn in spending and investment led factories and other businesses to slow down production and construction and begin firing their workers. For those who were lucky enough to remain employed, wages fell and buying power decreased. Many Americans forced to buy on credit fell into debt, and the number of foreclosures and repossessions climbed steadily. The adherence to the gold standard, which joined countries around the world in a fixed currency exchange, helped spread the Depression from the United States throughout the world, especially in Europe.
The Great Depression Deepens: Bank Runs and the Hoover Administration
Despite assurances from President Herbert Hoover and other leaders that the crisis would run its course, matters continued to get worse over the next three years. By 1930, 4 million Americans looking for work could not find it; that number had risen to 6 million in 1931. Meanwhile, the country’s industrial production had dropped by half. Bread lines, soup kitchens and rising numbers of homeless people became more and more common in America’s towns and cities. Farmers (who had been struggling with their own economic depression for much of the1920s due to drought and falling food prices) couldn’t afford to harvest their crops, and were forced to leave them rotting in the fields while people elsewhere starved.
In the fall of 1930, the first of four waves of banking panics began, as large numbers of investors lost confidence in the solvency of their banks and demanded deposits in cash, forcing banks to liquidate loans in order to supplement their insufficient cash reserves on hand. Bank runs swept the United States again in the spring and fall of 1931 and the fall of 1932, and by early 1933 thousands of banks had closed their doors. In the face of this dire situation, Hoover’s administration tried supporting failing banks and other institutions with government loans; the idea was that the banks in turn would loan to businesses, which would be able to hire back their employees.
FDR Addresses the Great Depression with the New Deal
Hoover, a Republican who had formerly served as U.S. secretary of commerce, believed that government should not directly intervene in the economy, and that it did not have the responsibility to create jobs or provide economic relief for its citizens. In 1932, however, with the country mired in the depths of the Great Depression and some 13-15 million people (or more than 20 percent of the U.S. population at the time) unemployed, Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt won an overwhelming victory in the presidential election. By Inauguration Day (March 4, 1933), every U.S. state had ordered all remaining banks to close at the end of the fourth wave of banking panics, and the U.S. Treasury didn’t have enough cash to pay all government workers. Nonetheless, FDR (as he was known) projected a calm energy and optimism, famously declaring that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Roosevelt took immediate action to address the country’s economic woes, first announcing a four-day “bank holiday” during which all banks would close so that Congress could pass reform legislation and reopen those banks determined to be sound. He also began addressing the public directly over the radio in a series of talks, and these so-called “fireside chats” went a long way towards restoring public confidence. During Roosevelt’s first 100 days in office, his administration passed legislation that aimed to stabilize industrial and agricultural production, create jobs and stimulate recovery. In addition, Roosevelt sought to reform the financial system, creating the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to protect depositors’ accounts and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to regulate the stock market and prevent abuses of the kind that led to the 1929 crash.
The Great Depression: Hard Road to Recovery
Among the programs and institutions of the New Deal that aided in recovery from the Great Depression were the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which built dams and hydroelectric projects to control flooding and provide electric power to the impoverished Tennessee Valley region of the South, and the Works Project Administration (WPA), a permanent jobs program that employed 8.5 million people from 1935 to 1943. After showing early signs of recovery beginning in the spring of 1933, the economy continued to improve throughout the next three years, during which real GDP (adjusted for inflation) grew at an average rate of 9 percent per year.
When the Great Depression began, the United States was the only industrialized country in the world without some form of unemployment insurance or social security. In 1935, Congress passed the Social Security Act, which for the first time provided Americans with unemployment, disability and pensions for old age.
US off Gold Standard – 5 June 1933
On June 5, 1933, the United States went off the gold standard, a monetary system in which currency is backed by gold, when Congress enacted a joint resolution nullifying the right of creditors to demand payment in gold. The United States had been on a gold standard since 1879, except for an embargo on gold exports during
World War I, but bank failures during the Great Depression of the 1930s frightened the public into hoarding gold, making the policy untenable.
Soon after taking office in March 1933, Roosevelt declared a nationwide bank moratorium in order to prevent a run on the banks by consumers lacking confidence in the economy. He also forbade banks to pay out gold or to export it. According to Keynesian economic theory, one of the best ways to fight off an economic downturn is to inflate the money supply. And increasing the amount of gold held by the Federal Reserve would in turn increase its power to inflate the money supply. Facing similar pressures, Britain had dropped the gold standard in 1931, and Roosevelt had taken note.
On April 5, 1933, Roosevelt ordered all gold coins and gold certificates in denominations of more than $100 be turned in for other money. It required all persons to deliver all gold coin, gold bullion and gold certificates owned by them to the Federal Reserve by May 1 for the set price of $20.67 per ounce. By May 10, the government had taken in $300 million of gold coin and $470 million of gold certificates. Two months later, a joint resolution of Congress abrogated the gold clauses in many public and private obligations that required the debtor to repay the creditor in gold dollars of the same weight and fineness as those borrowed. In 1934, the government price of gold was increased to $35 per ounce, effectively increasing the gold on the Federal Reserve’s balance sheets by 69 percent. This increase in assets allowed the Federal Reserve to further inflate the money supply.
The government held the $35 per ounce price until August 15, 1971, when President Richard Nixon announced that the United States would no longer convert dollars to gold at a fixed value, thus completely abandoning the gold standard. In 1974, President Gerald Ford signed legislation that permitted Americans again to own gold bullion.
My historical investigations continued, as it appeared that the Gold Standard was also very pertinent in terms of fundamental economic decisions made during this time. I wanted to see when Uranus squared Pluto in the 1800’s and test the hypothesis that this cycle was tied into monetary/currency fundamentals.
In astrological terms, Uranus squared Pluto (using a 1 degree orb) between Dec 1819 and Oct 1821 (England re-coinage programme) and again between Oct 1876 and July 1878 (US on Gold Standard from 1879).
The crisis of silver currency and bank notes (1750–1870)
In the late 18th century, wars and trade with China, which sold to Europe but had little use for European goods, drained silver from the economies of Western Europe and the United States. Coins were struck in smaller and smaller numbers, and there was a proliferation of bank and stock notes used as money.
In the 1790s, England, suffering a massive shortage of silver coinage, ceased to mint larger silver coins and issued “token” silver coins and overstruck foreign coins. With the end of the Napoleonic Wars, England began a massive re-coinage programme that created standard gold sovereigns and circulating crowns and half-crowns, and eventually copper farthings in 1821. The re-coinage of silver in England after a long drought produced a burst of coins: England struck nearly 40 million shillings between 1816 and 1820, 17 million half crowns and 1.3 million silver crowns. The 1819 Act for the Resumption of Cash Payments set 1823 as the date for resumption of convertibility, reached instead by 1821.
So what is important about this time when Uranus squares Pluto? What makes this a globally important time is that this cycle comes around infrequently as both of these planets are slow moving. Uranus takes about 84 earth years to complete a cycle. Pluto moves more slowly taking about 248 years to complete a full cycle in earth years.
I am looking at a time line from the 1800’s. In astrological terms, Uranus squared Pluto (using a 1 degree orb) between Dec 1819 and Oct 1821; between Oct 1876 and July 1878 and then again between June 1931 and Feb 1934. These two planets square each other again from June 2012 to April 2015. The global economic concerns are not yet over. We should expect more upheavals socially and economically.
Uranus is a planet that signifies revolution and change through invention. Uranus creates unexpected chaos and disruption. From the chaos comes innovation. Pluto on the other hand is the eliminator or destroyer. For new opportunities to emerge, the old ways must be eliminated. As one can see these two planets create a powerful, destructive force for change in society at large.
So what are the lessons? And what can we expect? Looking back in history, it was a time of fundamental economic change. Firstly in the 1820’s with England embarking on a massive re-coinage programme; then in 1879 with the US moving onto the Gold Standard; and then in 1931 Britain moved off the Gold Standard followed by the US in 1933.
So it seems that this concept of linking currency and gold needs to be revisited. Is it appropriate? Is it relevant in current times? Is there a way this policy could be re-invented to suit the current economic circumstances now and into the future?
The years of the Great Depression were significant with massive financial losses and mass unemployment as economies and stock markets crashed and consumers lost confidence.
What are the economic lessons from this scenario? The problems have arisen from global over-consumption. Many households and countries are living beyond their means. Far too many people and countries have massive debt. Are there any lessons? Never invest with borrowed/loaned money that demands interest payments. Invest with spare cash. Otherwise investment is too risky. Gain is speculative and relies on a market with constant positive growth.
The economic recession in 2008/2009/2010 and lack of confidence in the global financial system all boiled down to reckless lending. This kind of lending is not sustainable. The bubble must burst and it did. Households and governments/countries are going to have to embark on a programme to rebuild their balance sheets to reduce debt and this is likely to take time.
The big question is how will global leaders manage the current global economic crisis? The US was the only industrialised nation post the Great Depression that did not have any form of social security. This was implemented in 1935. The current problems in Europe/UK and US have a lot to do with social benefits and budgetary restrictions. The governments of the day are hard pressed to provide all the services that they would like to all members of the population within the current fiscus. Most of the developed nations have debt that is sky high and this scenario is not sustainable. It once again speaks about economic fundamentals. The US debt ceiling crisis highlights this problem and it has been hard for politicians to agree a way forward for the US.
In summary the themes relate to the rise and fall of the Gold Standard, banking and stock market fundamentals and social security and social benefits. The world must once again make radical changes to our economic fundamentals. It is a time of change and we should embrace the changes that lie ahead. Outdated systems that have failed must go and new systems should be implemented to deal with the current political, social and economic situation.