Despite a 6.5% decline in the Chinese stock markets, the Dow Jones and S&P averages relentlessly rose to a new high and the Nasdaq index went up 21 points. Americans are unique in their unabashed optimism and the apparent belief that what goes up need not come down. In that belief we have forgotten the lessons of Icarus, who constructed a pair of wax wings so that he could fly to the Sun. You might remember what happened as those wax wings flew too close to the Sun!
Ever since the birth of the US Americans have doggedly sought expansion (Sagittarius rising in the US chart) with a compulsive need to acquire more and more possessions (Pluto in the second house). Originally it was a land expansion as settlers moved westward in the late 1700s and early 1800s, obliterating native populations in the desire to append more and more land to the burgeoning new nation. One in ten pioneers died making the trek across the country.
Later a telegraph fever swept the country in the mid 1800s, laying more telegraph lines that could possibly be used. Thousands of eager investors lost their life savings. In the late 1800s railroad fever swept the country. Again, more railroad tracks were laid than could possibly be used, and one out of four railroad companies tanked causing a multitude of bankruptcies. In the 1920s credit fever swept the country: now you could buy anything you wanted “on time” with no money, including stocks! Speculation rather than investment fueled the stock market, and when it crashed many people owed their brokers more than they had invested.
In more recent memory, the “new economy” of the dot-com bubble (facilitated by the entry of transiting Pluto into Sagittarius) drove tech stocks to soaring heights, attracting speculative investors by the millions. The new technology facilitated online stock investing by the masses, and stocks in companies that had no assets and no income continued to rise with no end in sight, resulting in a crash as the bubble burst in the months leading up to September 11 just as transiting Pluto stationed direct exactly on the US ascendant.
Americans have to have bigger stores, bigger houses, and bigger cars than they had before. In 1974 the average home size in the US was 1400 square feet; in 2004 it was 2330 square feet. But that’s still not enough – now now the second home market is the fastest growing segment of the US housing market, but 28% of all second home buyers (according to a recent study) intend to sell within five years. This is the kind of speculation that fuels a bubble.
The problem with this kind of expansion is that it is fueled by restlessness and dissatisfaction, without ever providing the benefits of peace and contentment. The passage of Pluto through the first house of the US chart has challenged Americans to redefine themselves and their national identity. Sagittarius is associated with religion and shared ideals as well as expansion and adventure, and for some Pluto through the Sagittarian first house of the US has brought with it a compulsive need to redefine the national identity through religion. Pluto cannot be so nicely compartmentalized, however; instead it breaks down the structures that no longer serve us and we are seeing this breakdown in the splintering of the national political situation.
Transiting Pluto is now sextile the US Moon, a harmonious aspect that encourages the transformation (Pluto) of the emotional underpinnings of the country and family roots (Moon). It is likely that housing will not crash altogether during this time.
It is difficult to predict when the stock market and housing bubbles will begin to pop – we thought this would happen when Saturn squared Jupiter last year; we thought it would happen when Saturn opposed Neptune. Ray Merriman predicted it would happen when Jupiter squared Uranus, but the markets continue their relentless climb. I do feel that it is important during times of national frenzy of any kind to try to avoid becoming caught up in the energy of mass hysteria, but instead to step back and maintain a presence that can give us the discrimination required to remain sensible.