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Investing in the Stars: The Astrology of Money and Markets in the Modern United States

Thursday Lecture Series, Supernatural

dateApril 26, 2018 timeThursday, 12:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • Whitney Laemmli
  • Audience open exclusively to Columbia faculty, students, and invited guests
  • All others interested in attending, please email SOF/Heyman at [email protected].
1965 diagram of Dow Jones trends

In 1984, Stanford Economics Professor Ezra Solomon famously quipped, “The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.” Though intended as a jab at other economists, Solomon’s claim also spoke to a growing trend in market prediction – the application of astrological tools and methods to financial forecasting. Financial astrology, popularly known as “market gazing,” did indeed gain respectability over the past half century. As Solomon suggested, the failures of economists to predict the behaviors of markets undoubtedly played a role in that process. But the rise of astrology in the field of finance can be linked to other historical contexts as well. This talk offers a brief history of the astrology of money and markets in the United States, from the Gilded Age to the present. Special emphasis will be placed on the past 40-50 years, and linkages between the growing popularity of financial astrology and market rationality in a neoliberal era.