Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Astrologers, Futurologists, and Other Prophets

The word from the fortune-telling world is not good. Slate.com is running a thought experiment on how America is going to end. Link here.

And Dan Dorfman reports on his interview with famed astrologer Bob Marks about what the stars and the planets have in store for us. The short answer is: cataclysmic doom. Link here.

You begin to think that some of these people forgot to take their optimism pills.

Of course, no one takes these predictions very seriously. And yet, we all make predictions, and some of the best minds in the financial world are renowned for their prophecies. I linked to Byron Wien's 2009 predictions in January. Link here.

And here are Doug Kass's 20 surprises for 2009. Link here.

Obviously, serious people do not believe in astrology. No one really believes that a planetary conjunction can have a transformational effect on our lives.

As we say these words, no small number of us will be looking up our horoscopes in the newspaper or on a website.

Astrology notwithstanding, we all project possible futures. You cannot make a plan without having some notion of what the future will look like.

Mostly, we think that the future will be more of the same. We believe that the past is destined to repeat itself, so that if we understand what happened yesterday we will be best prepared to deal with tomorrow.

People are debating whether the current financial crisis is a repeat of the 1930s or the 1970s.

It may not be true, but it is respectable. And if you imagine a future that has nothing to do with the past, a black swan, then you will surely be looked at askance.

Today, the mood is not as bleak as it was six months ago. And yet, the prophets of doom are still hard at work. And they are becoming more mainstream. According to contrary sentiment indicators, this is a good sign.

As long as pessimism is mainstream, the green shoots will grow and maybe even blossom. As soon as we all accept that the storm has passed, that the worst is over, and that these prophets of gloom are crackpots... then we are in for real trouble.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Obviously, serious people do not believe in astrology."

Wow, that's pretty ignorant. Of course you can't expect your morning paper horoscope to be true, but when done properly astrology works, and works well.

I guess Ronald Reagan wasn't a very serious man, after all he had personalized DAILY astrological readings. That's just one example. Many many 'serious men' do it (ha ha! dirty), but because of attitudes like yours prefer to keep it a secret.