by Alex Miller-Mignone
February 1, 2006 saw the end of an era, with the swearing in of Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the United States Federal Reserve (the Fed), replacing Alan Greenspan after a 19-year reign.
The Fed is the central bank of the US, supervising and regulating all other member banks, setting the discount rate by which banks lend among themselves (which determines the base rate that governs consumer interest rates), determining the reserve ratio, and controlling the amount of currency destroyed or produced on a daily basis. There are 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks throughout the US, governed by a seven-member board. All national banks in the US are required to be members, and smaller banks may join as well. In theory the Fed is a nonpartisan organization, independent of political considerations, with board member terms spanning administrations of both parties. In practice, financial decisions are often tailored to political needs, as interest rates, the Feds most visible jurisdiction, can make or break an economy, and a presidency.
But the Fed is an independent government agency, and its decisions do not require ratification by the President or any branch of government, although the Chairmans appointment must be ratified by the Senate, and there is a provision in law for a Chairmans removal by the President for cause. This essential lack of oversight has caused some criticism of the Fed. Its detractors allege inordinate secrecy on the part of the Board, where meetings are held behind closed doors, and transcripts therof are not released for a full five years. The Fed was established by the Federal Reserve Act which Woodrow Wilson signed into law on 23 December 1913, replacing a more laissez faire era of US banking.
The Feds chart is an interesting one, with three major oppositions involving the three financial planets Venus, Jupiter and Pluto. Venus, ruling the thousands and the most personal connection with money on a day-to-day basis, lies at 19 Sagittarius, conjunct a Black Hole, and ties with Mercury, representative of trade and commerce, at 13 Sagittarius, from where they oppose a retrograde Saturn at 13 Gemini, clearly showing the Feds mandate to regulate specie and affect commercial transactions. The 13th degree also ties to the US Sun at 13 Cancer and US Saturn at 14 Libra.
Jupiter, ruling the millions and the next level of financial development (that of societal productivity and small business), lies at 23 Capricorn in opposition to Neptune retrograde at 27 Cancer, itself conjunct another Black Hole. The level of insecurity and instability injected by Neptune/Black Hole should not be underestimated, and speaks much to the opacity of Fed board deliberations, the resultant decisions and our vulnerability to them. The US Pluto conjoins the Feds Jupiter from 27 Capricorn retrograde, in exact opposition to the Feds natal Neptune.
Pluto, ruling the billions and the finances of big business, large multinational corporations, etc., lies at 0 Cancer retrograde and opposes the Sun at 1 Capricorn. The Sun tied to Pluto shows what the Fed is really aboutprotecting the interests of Big Money and the power which accrues to that. The Feds Pluto conjoins both the USA Venus at 3 Cancer and the USA Jupiter at 5 Cancer, bringing all three financial planets together in a monetary trifecta that controls the nations daily commerce and productivity, all with a view to how this benefits vested interests.
These three oppositions rule the chart with an iron fist; even Mars at 19 Cancer and Uranus at 5 Aquarius tie tangentially to them (Mars opposed Jupiter and broadly conjunct Neptune on the Jupiter/Neptune axis, and Uranus in an out-of-Sign opposition to Neptune on that same axis). This leaves only the Moon in Scorpiorepresenting the common, shared financial interests of the publicin splendid isolation, another indicator of who the Fed truly serves.
Bernanke was appointed to his new post on 24 October 2005, with the Sun, Venus, Jupiter and Pluto all conjoined Black Holes (and under a Sun/Jupiter conjunction), and sworn in on 1 February 2006, with the Sun conjunct one Black Hole, Venus stationing direct conjunct another, Jupiter opposed a third, and Pluto now conjunct the Galactic Center. Obviously, not much can be said yet of Bernankes tenure, although, for a Bush appointee, his resume is unusually apt for the position he has been given. Bernanke is very familiar with Fed operations, having been a Board member from 2002 until he took over as Chair of the Presidents Council of Economic Advisers in June 2005. He graduated high school with an almost perfect SAT score, sailed through Harvard with a summa cum laude, and earned his doctorate at MIT, following this with teaching stints at Stanford and Princeton. So, although a Bush crony, he does appear to be a qualified one. His special interest is the Great Depression, knowledge which will doubtless assist him in understanding the countrys immediate future financial prospects.
Born 13 December 1953, Bernankes Sun at 21 Sagittarius is conjunct the Black Hole at 19 Sagittarius, the Pulsar at 24 Sagittarius, and the Galactic Center at 26 Sagittarius, and is tightly opposed by Jupiter at 21 Gemini retrograde. The Sun tied to a Pulsar and the Galactic Center indicates a life of substantial public interest, one of global import and the potential for wielding considerable power (a potential further underscored by the trine of the Sun to Pluto at 24 Leo retrograde). Sun/Jupiter describes his exceptional academic performance, but implies that he may feel less comfortable with mid-level financial matters than the rarefied upper echelons of Plutonian wealth, as exemplified by the more sympathetic trine aspect. Bernankes Sun also conjoins the Feds Venus. His third financial indicator, Venus, lies at 10 Sagittarius exactly conjunct a Black Hole, and is just eleven degrees before the Sun, affirming a blending of all three planetary financial indicators with his solar energy. Bernanke is all about money.
Mercury at 4 Sagittarius is also exactly conjunct a Black Hole, indicating an ability to parse his words carefully to evoke a desired response, as well as being a master at obfuscation. Bernanke may become as well known for his cryptic utterances as his predecessor Greenspan (whose pronouncements, over the decades, became known collectively as Fed speak for their seeming inability to be understood as English). A broad stellium of Neptune, Mars and Saturn at 25 Libra through 5 Scorpio, which incorporates the energies of two Black Holes, suggests a certain ambivalence or underlying prejudice against business interests, or perhaps the willingness to lie for them. This stellium creates a T-Square of the Feds Jupiter/Neptune opposition. Uranus at 22 Cancer retrograde is tightly inconjunct the Sun; Bernanke is not completely predictable, and may even show a trace of egalitarian spirit on occasion. This Uranus also opposes the Feds Jupiter.
Probably the most interesting point of commonality between Bernanke and the more familiar Alan Greenspan is the nodal axis. At 24 Capricorn/Cancer, Bernankes nodes exactly mirror Greenspans at 24 Cancer/Capricorn! This startling effect of exact reversal is created by their births 27 years, or one and one half nodal cycles, apart. Additionally, both mens axes are conjunct the Feds Jupiter/Neptune opposition. The chances of this occurring by accident are slight indeed. Whatever power guides the Fed and the nations financial structure, on a karmic level, it seemingly wants to keep things in the family, so to speak. Although the mirrored opposition could imply a reversal in policy, it is more likely to manifest as a continuation, albeit with a differing inflection. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Born 6 March 1926, outgoing Chairman Alan Greenspan headed the Fed for almost two decades, since his appointment by Reagan in 1987 to replace retiring Fed Chair Paul Volcker. Greenspan, a native New Yorker of Jewish extraction, spent his youth focused on the Big Apple, with an early interest in music at Juilliard (he is an accomplished saxophone player, although there are no indications that he ever joined Clinton in a duet), followed by a BS (graduating summa cum laude like Bernanke) and MA in Economics at NYU. His career mirrors Bernankes also in that he was a former chair of President Fords Council of Economic Advisers, a position which we have already seen was briefly filled by Bernanke for Bush. Greenspan spent most of his life in the private sector, in consulting capacities, but not in academia. He was, however, a close friend of author-philosopher Ayn Rand in the 50s and 60s, and a strong supporter of her Objectivist movement, endorsing unrestricted capitalism. He is married to NBC journalist Andrea Mitchell, a conflict of interest in her reporting which is rarely mentioned except in knowing asides from other guests when she appears in panel discussions. Greenspans contributions to the world economy have been acknowledged by foreign governments as well; among his honorary titles are Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire and Commander of the French Legion of Honor. His five terms as Fed Chair are unprecedented.
Greenspans Sun at 15 Pisces is square a Black Hole at 17 Sagittarius, and his financial planets are similarly encumbered. Venus and Jupiter conjoin at 11 and 13 Aquarius, straddling a pair of Black Holes at 11 and 12; Pluto at 12 Cancer retrograde is a match for the USA Sun at 13, and squares the USA Saturn and a Black Hole at 14 and 13 Libra. His 18 Capricorn Mars conjoins a Black Hole and opposes the Feds Mars at 19 Cancer.
Greenspans Mercury at 0 Aries opposes the supermassive Black Hole at the center of Galaxy M-87 at 1 Libra, the largest, most powerful anomaly of its type of which we aware; this polarity transforms the Feds Sun/Pluto opposition, which it squares, into a Grand Cross. Greenspans communication patterns are typical of many Mercury/Black Hole natives; he is noted for his somewhat ponderous style and his inability to answer a question directly or with complete lucidity. Greenspan himself acknowledged this tendency, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, when addressing Congress in 1988: I guess I should warn you, if I turn out to be particularly clear, youve probably misunderstood what I said.
Some fellow Objectivists consider that Greenspans tenure with the Fed has been an abandonment of their shared principles of non-regulation of capitalism. But others see the situation quite differently. Although Objectivists decry the departure from the Gold Standard and the creation of the USs fiat currency (a monetary system based, essentially, in nothing but the governments say-so) which the Fed has been instrumental in implementing, they believe Greenspans policy of allowing successive US administrations to accrue ever more massive public debt has been deliberate. Greenspan, they allege, has engineered this fiscal crisis, with his ultimate goal the collapse of the Federal Reserve system which he has guided, thus paving a return to the Gold Standard which he endorses and prefers. Such Machiavellian double-cross would make Greenspan the ultimate mole, and is well within the scope of the Mercury/Black Hole native. A similar scenario was prefigured in the plot of Ayn Rands 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged.
Alex Miller-Mignone is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of "The Galactic Calendar," and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society.
His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. Alex can be reached for comment or services at Alixilamirorim@aol.com.