Abstract: The Stars Ascendant: Financial Astrology and Market Rationality in the United States, 1970-Present
In 1984, Stanford Economics Professor and former Nixon advisor 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, also known as "market gazing," has, indeed, gained respectability (or at least popularity) over the past four decades. And as Solomon suggested, the failures of economists to predict the behaviors of markets undoubtedly played a role in that process. But the astronomical growth of astrology in the field of market prediction can be linked to other historical contexts as well. In this paper, I explore what the growing acceptance of financial astrology can tell us about market rationality in a neoliberal era. By examining the relationship between financial astrology and other attempts to predict markets over the past four decades, I show how astrology has helped make "the market" seem respectable by promoting a neoliberal rationality completely in step with contemporary economic theory—not opposed to it—and by suggesting that this rationality is inscribed in the stars.