We tend to assume that men of capital are rational thinkers who weigh the pros and cons before making financial decisions. But the future is coldly unknowable and we are shrieking apes in suits, so many seek the warmth and guidance of a crystal ball. When big business meets irrationalism, there are always those who bring the profiteering to their propheteering.
10 Arch Crawford
While working at Merrill Lynch in the early 1960s, Arch Crawford turned from using the past behavior of companies to predict their future financial success to using astrology. Apparently, an article in The Wall Street Journal on astrological cycles reshaped his thinking.
Crawford has rebranded himself as a financial astrologer through his Crawford Perspectives newsletter, which compares the planetary movements with the major stock and commodity indexes, bonds, some individual commodities, and the US dollar.
Although he doesn’t know why astrology works, Crawford insists that it does, making reference to a connection between planetary alignments and radio interference caused by sunspots.
He believes that the ancient mystical practices are still relevant today. As proof, he cites the fact that the International Monetary Fund announced that it would be selling gold in bulk on the same day that Saturn entered the sign of Leo on the apparent right ascension. Leo is ruled by the Sun, which rules over gold.
In an interview in 2014, Crawford expressed concern about the then-upcoming cardinal grand cross, described as “transiting Jupiter conjoining the natal Sun and transiting Mars conjoining natal Saturn.” This apparently matches with the astrological outlook for July 4, 1776, seen by some astro-economists as the birthday of the US. According to Crawford, this was a sign of challenges ahead in the equities markets.
Crawford Perspectives describes his forecasting success as “second to none,” with his predictions carried in respected financial publications such as The Wall Street Journal and Forbes. Analysis of his recommendations over time shows that he has had some notable spurts of success.
Over the four-year period from 2001 to 2004, however, his predictions were inferior to a conservative buy-and-hold strategy. According to the CXO Advisory Group, the average gross return per calendar day for Crawford’s predictions was -0.04 percent. The S&P 500 Index yielded 0.00 percent during the same period. However, CXO admits that the sample size of Crawford’s trades in their analysis is too small to accurately forecast Crawford’s long-term performance.
9 Cao Yongzheng
Known as the Xinjiang sage, Cao Yongzheng is a fortune-teller, mystic, and qigong master who developed a web of connections within the Chinese government and state industry in the 1990s. It was rumored that Cao had the ability to heal, predict the future, and make barren women fertile, all of which were an attraction for the rich and powerful.
Part of Cao’s success may have been linked to the fact that members of the Communist Party cannot join conventional religious groups. Instead, they seek guidance from those self-declared spiritual gurus whom the government chooses to tolerate.
Cao was said to have been able to divine a person’s past, present, and future within one minute of meeting them or simply by concentrating on a person’s business card, photograph, or regularly used item.
He is said to have cured a curved spine using a branch chopped from a mulberry tree and predicted Beijing’s loss to Sydney in its 1993 bid to host the 2000 Olympic Games. His reputation led to many Chinese officials, businessmen, and celebrities seeking his guidance or healing.
According to the Caixin newspaper, Cao used his appeal to the elite in 2005 to leverage a partnership with former China National Petroleum Corporation official Wang Guoju. Together, they formed the Niandai Energy Investment Company.
Niandai Energy signed a number of contracts to develop oil blocks in Xinjiang and Jilin. At the same time, Wang and Cao dipped into film production and property development. The company was even given privileged land development rights in high-tech sectors of Chengdu.
Graft rumors spurred a police raid that resulted in Wang’s arrest and Cao’s flight to Taiwan. Then the government began to investigate Cao’s dodgy ties in earnest.
In 2015, former security czar Zhou Yongkang was indicted for releasing sensitive government information to Cao. A number of other officials with ties to Cao and Zhou were also arrested on charges of corruption, a part of Xi Jinping’s campaign against “corrupt tigers.”
8 Kim Won Hong
Not to be confused with the North Korean general of the same name, analyst-shaman Kim Won Hong started working in a securities firm in the 1990s, slowly building his reputation for using the ancient shamanistic traditions of fortune-telling to make shrewd, profitable investments.
One unnamed analyst said, “[Kim Won Hong] was a legendary figure. People said he had an ability to foresee the future, and he was even famous as a fortune-teller when he was young.”
In 1998, Kim made the acquaintance of Chey Tae Won, chairman of the massive SK Group in South Korea, and advised him on shrewd investment choices with his shamanic powers. Reportedly, Kim tripled the value of Chey’s investment.
This initial success was enough to persuade Chey to put too much trust in Kim’s powers of prediction. Later investments were ill-fated. Despite Kim losing hundreds of billions of won in failed investments, Chey continued to trust him.
Kim fled South Korea for Taiwan after the government began a slush fund investigation against SK. South Korea had no extradition treaty with Taiwan.
Meanwhile, Chey was accused of diverting 50 billion won from company accounts to his personal investments with the help of his brother. However, Chey said that Kim had diverted nearly 600 billion won out of Chey’s personal accounts for his own use.
Eventually, Kim was picked up for immigration irregularities and returned to South Korea. Unfortunately for the Chey brothers, the South Korean Supreme Court believed there was sufficient evidence that they had committed the crime by themselves.
7 Jonathan Cahn
Jewish mystic and author Jonathan Cahn believes that many economic calamities can be matched with a biblical “cleansing” cycle called the Shemitah. The Shemitah is said to occur every seven years, when God commanded Moses to let the land rest, cease agricultural activity, and let all debts lapse.
Cahn linked this cycle with the stock market collapses in 1973, 1980, 1987, 2001, and 2008. He predicted a massive financial collapse in December 2015. He also linked the Shemitah with the rise of America as a superpower, both World Wars, the return of the Jews to Israel, the Six-Day War, and the construction of the World Trade Center.
In February 2015, Cahn told the extremely right-wing WND website about strange signs that seemed to point toward the Shemitah’s end:
Very strange. In the last days of the Shemitah, two striking signs. A storm causes destruction on Islam’s central mosque in Mecca (on September 11). At the same time, a rainbow appears (September 10) over the tower at Ground Zero. Many immediately took this as a good sign. Yet it was not long ago that America desecrated the sign of the rainbow by using a vessel of God to celebrate the Supreme Court’s striking down the biblical definition of marriage.
Cahn first believed that the Shemitah collapse would occur in September 2015. When that didn’t happen, he revised his prophecy to extend to September 2016. Later, he claimed that headlines touting 2015 as the worst financial year since 2008 had vindicated his earlier claims.
6 Rajiv Karekar
Rajiv Karekar, a general surgeon from Thane in Maharashtra, India, has developed software which predicts the movements of the National Stock Exchange’s Nifty Index based on the birth chart of the country and the index itself.
He claims an accuracy rate of 80 percent with intraday movements and 85 percent for longer periods of two to three months. Karekar says, “The best part of the graphs I offer is that there is nothing left for interpretation. Investors have a concrete graph based on which they can decide their trading strategy.”
He bases the national birthday on the date and time of India’s independence from Britain, and the birthday of the index on the day and time that it began trading. His program, Astro-Kundali, is capable of handling the two main forms of Hindu astronomy and is billed as “an advanced Hindu Vedic and an advanced Krishnamurti Paddhati Astrology Software along with Tajak and Jaimini support.”
Another Indian astrologer with hot stock tips is Satish Gupta, who appears to follow the Western zodiac tradition or a variation of it. As an example, he cites September 2004 when Lord Saturn changed the house and the stock prices of liquor skyrocketed.
Gupta maintains a Twitter account with constant updates on his predictions. An example is this gem from October 2015: “Mars will be virguttam from 2marrow, keep close watch on Real Eastate sector.”
5 Larry Ford
Once a relatively successful financial consultant, Larry Ford should have felt satisfied with his life. But instead, he felt that his life was a lie.
One day, after a long day of handshakes, he found that his hands were covered in red spots, which developed into blisters over the next few days. He had the feeling that his injuries were not of a medical nature.
Weeks later, Ford impulsively grabbed an associate’s thumb during a conference and felt a rush of sadness flow into him. The associate was astonished. The pain in his thumb that had been bothering him for years was gone.
Ford healed more people and enrolled in a natural healing institute to study physiology, psychology, energy medicine, and tai chi. In 2003, he moved his family to St. John’s in the Virgin Islands, only for his marriage and consulting business to fall apart. His former financial consulting mentor told him, “I have seen self-destructive behavior in my time, but this one takes the cake.”
In 2005, Ford took a trip to Nepal, where he learned how to perform flower sacrifices and invoke the gods. There, shaman Aama Bombo chanted over a girl vomiting green bile and exorcised the demons possessing an old man. Then the shaman turned to Ford. After hearing his story, she proclaimed him a shaman and devotee of Kali.
During his initiation under a full Moon, Ford wore a peacock headdress and white robes. He danced through alleyways and around temples until he was anointed with holy water and blessed with a string of gnarled seeds. Then he returned to Connecticut and opened a shamanic consulting business, charging his clients up to $250 per session.
His services were in high demand during the financial crisis of 2008, but he stopped accepting payment for his separate shamanic healing services. In an interview with The Washington Post, Ford said, “I make it very clear to my clients: I’m either going to be managing your finances or your spirit.” Then again, he admits, “Now and then, my wrist bead pops out from underneath my cufflinks.”
4 Reverend Joey Talley
Reverend Joey Talley, a Silicon Valley witch, has made a name for herself by exorcising evil spirits from computers and offices, charging tech companies $200 an hour for her services.
For protection against viruses and hacking, flora is her tool of trade. But she uses a black stone called Jet to raise spiritual protections around office buildings. She also gives tarot readings for investment advice over the phone.
Talley recalled one incident in which a start-up’s alarm system shrieked at odd intervals and multiple technicians had failed to locate the source of the problem. Talley believed it was an infestation of an “invasive species” and drove it out.
In another incident, a techie couple was terrorized by the mysterious appearance of bloody handprints and obscene messages on their windows and walls. Talley diagnosed the problem as likely stemming from the nearby spirits of murdered children. She raised a “psychic seawall” to block out their influence.
According to the state of California, Talley is an ordained Wiccan minister. However, she is one of the few who use witchcraft for tech support. Apparently, stones can clear out computer infestations of hostile or mischievous spirits. But each computer and situation is unique, so she has to spend time attuning with the energies to determine whether to chant or burn sage.
She described one of her assignments in an interview with Vice in 2016:
I got contacted by a small business owner in Marin County. She had a couple of different viruses, and she called me in. First, I cast a circle and called in earth, air, fire, and water, and then I called in Mercury, the messenger and communicator. Then I went into a trance state, and all I was doing was feeling. I literally feel [the virus] in my body. I can feel the smoothness where the energy’s running, and then I feel a snag. That’s where the virus got in.
Then I performed a banishing ceremony. I used a black bowl with a magnet and water to draw [the virus] out. Then I saged the whole computer to chase the negativity back into the bowl, and then I flushed that down the toilet. After this, I did a purification ceremony. Then I made a protection spell out of chloride, amethyst, and jet. I left these on the computer at the base where she works.
3 Mahendra Sharma
From humble beginnings as a stockbroker in India, Mahendra Sharma developed a system of astrological prediction known as the Wave of Nature System. According to Sharma’s writings, his understanding of planetary movements applied to world events, supposedly predicting the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Gulf War, and the rise of banking stocks after the 1987 crash.
Then he spent 12 years in Kenya, during which time he began to advise financial leaders around the world. Supposedly, he predicted the dot-com boom and bust, September 11, and the post-2001 commodities bull market.
During that period, he made social and political predictions more often than financial predictions. But as he told Forbes: “I stopped making those kind of predictions in late 1995 because I didn’t think they were of any value and not really helping anyone. I decided to turn to making financial forecasts and put $17,000 into American dot-com companies. I held it for four years and made a lot of money before it crashed.”
Since 2001, Sharma has lived in the US and authored nine books about his techniques. He argues that every living thing, which includes financial markets, vibrates in cycles according to the wave of nature and that going against the wave leads to disaster.
According to Sharma, the wave of nature can be quantified and measured by the universal planetary movement. He argues that the wave of nature is a fundamental building block of the universe and the oldest science of mankind, now woefully neglected due to the influence of Western culture on the world.
2 Laura Day
During the middle of the 2008 financial crisis, corporate psychic Laura Day said, “I love crisis. I love turning it around. I’m going to brag—in the last few weeks, I’ve become a hero. My clients were all prepared for this. They were out of the market a year ago and now they’re ringing me saying, ‘The whole world is freaking out and I’m just sitting here calm.’ ”
Her clients, which included corporations and wealthy individuals like Demi Moore, Jennifer Aniston, and Rosanna Arquette, paid her $10,000 per session. Day had already made over $10 million at that time.
Although she dresses and acts in accordance with the dress code and customs of the corporate world, she proudly has little actual knowledge of how the system works, claiming that her abilities work better when she is an “information desert.”
She prefers to portray her powers as a powerful form of intuition, which is rarely wrong unless she interprets it incorrectly. Despite her line of work, she has said, “I hate the word ‘psychic.’ Because it means tea leaves and crystal balls and a six-floor walk up to a place that smells like cat’s piss.”
In the early 1990s, she began work as a psychic after her marriage fell apart and she asked a friend if he would pay her for her intuited stock tips. Then she published a best-selling book called Practical Intuition.
However, award-winning author and Princeton Review cofounder Adam Robinson claimed in 2010 that he had supported ex-girlfriend Day for years and had actually written most of her books. According to Robinson, Practical Intuition was his book, which he based on her largely unusable notes.
Robinson also claimed that Day had swindled him out of millions and exploited him through emotional manipulation, particularly using his concern for her young son. Robinson said that Day even convinced him to give her the royalties on his books.
Day denied the claims, saying they were based on revenge and spite rather than truth. The judge found no evidence that Day had committed a crime but agreed to Robinson’s odd request to have a legal guardian appointed to help him manage his income.
1 Real Estate Exorcists
There is little worse for a property’s market value than a noisy, obtrusive, hostile spirit in residence. Clearing houses of unwanted ghosts has apparently become big business in Australia, with costs of up to $350 for clients.
One real estate agent reported that some clients have paid up to $3,000 to have negative energy removed from their properties before sale. For more parsimonious property sellers, some companies offer DIY kits containing oils, incense, candles, sage, and instructions.
Melbourne-based shaman and guru Hally Rhiannon-Nammu described being employed by a real estate agent to clear a modern office that had gone too long without tenants. After she cleared out the ghost, a tenancy agreement was signed within weeks. Now she specializes in removing “nasty spirits.”
She claims to have performed clearings on a house with a history of drug abuse where the spirits were attacking the inhabitants. She also performed a difficult exorcism on an office where a spirit was breathing down the workers’ necks. But it wasn’t easy. “Sage doesn’t do crap,” she said on Domain, an Australian real estate website. “The ghost looked at me [and] laughed.”
Sydney psychic Rob Tilley also claims to regularly perform house clearings. He explained, “I’ll visit their house and if it is haunted, I’ll persuade [the ghosts] to leave. I’ll say ‘stop being a bloody nuisance,’ but it’s all done mind to mind.”
Allegedly, one client hired Tilley to clear a $4 million mansion after potential purchasers were turned away by the resident spirits. In this case, however, Tilley said, “It turned out not to be haunted, but there’s no telling which homes will need cleansing. There’s no pattern to it.”
David Tormsen never makes any financial decisions without consulting the entrails of a sacred ibis. Email him at [email protected].