Ben Bernanke & Fritz Henderson Refuse To Flow with the Winds of Change

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When a planet from Earth’s vantage point appears to be stationary and change direction, its energies are more pronounced. Uranus the planetary energy of shocks, surprises, shakeups and dynamic change, was stationary in the sky from November 28 to December 4, 2009.

Uranus stationed direct on December 1, the day of the Full Moon in Gemini. The Full Moon marks a culmination point in the lunar cycle, as the Moon’s bright light illuminates issues we’re aware of that need to be resolved.

Gemini is symbolized by the twins. Last week the careers of two leaders hung in the balance. One has exited the executive suite and the other is battling to hold on to not only his position, but the powers of the institution he leads. The Sun represents an individual’s career and reputation. Both of these men were born with the Sun and Mercury in Gemini’s opposite sign Sagittarius.

As the energy of communication and movement, Mercury and Gemini rule automobiles. “Shock” and “surprise” are the words the Financial Times used to describe the mood within GM after Tuesday’s unexpected announcement of CEO Fritz Henderson’s immediate departure from the company. The “pressure from an assertive and mercurial board” put in place after the US government took majority control of GM created disagreements between Henderson and Ed Whitacre, the retired chief executive of AT&T who became the government appointed Chairman of GM in June.

In a post written on April 5, 2009, I wrote: “Based on the transits to his chart, I think it is unlikely Henderson will be running GM for very long.” Saturn square Pluto describes the difficult transition from bankruptcy to the restructuring necessary to rebirth a new GM constrained by 68% US government and 8% Canadian government ownership. The exact alignment of Saturn and Pluto on November 15 affected Henderson’s progressed* Saturn in Capricorn.

Saturn represents contraction, and GM is experiencing difficulties shedding unpopular brands. Deals to sell its Saab and Saturn divisions fell through. Last month GM’s board reversed Henderson’s short-sighted decision to sell control of GM’s Opel unit to Canadian auto supplier Magna International. Additionally, the board felt Henderson’s timetable to take GM public again in 2010 was overly optimistic.

The Sun and Saturn represent the father; Fritz Henderson was born with the Sun conjoining Venus (finance) in optimistic Sagittarius, and Mercury (siblings) conjoining Saturn in Sagittarius. Henderson is a GM “lifer” just like his father and brother, beginning his career at GM in 1984 as a senior financial analyst to becoming Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer in 2006.

Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, and Henderson’s Jupiter in Scorpio opposes Mars (action) in Taurus and squares Uranus (change) in Leo. With these planets in fixed signs, dynamic change does not come easy for Henderson even when the pressure reaches the boiling point.

As Paul Ingrassia writes in The Wall Street Journal, Henderson’s idea of change was to name “a new executive team that consisted entirely of other GM lifers.” Uranus is the outsider, the rebel needed to go into GM and shake things up. Uranus in visionary Pisces describes the best CEO for GM would be a visionary leader in the mold of Steve Jobs to build quality vehicles that are functional, stylish and totally cool.

Henderson launched a “tell Fritz” web page to make GM appear more responsive to consumers. But when asked by a consumer to explain why GM did so poorly in a recent Consumer Reports survey, Henderson’s response was: “We were genuinely disappointed in our results. We simply must produce better results.” Saturn and Uranus opposing Henderson’s natal Mercury and Saturn reflect that Henderson failed to grasp that GM requires a lot more to be viable than the largely superficial changes he was willing to make.

As I wrote in “Detroit Automakers’ Bailout Plans and Prospects,” it is GM’s “bean counter bureaucracy” that smothers its potential to make great automobiles. Mars in Leo began impacting Henderson’s planetary trio at the same time as Saturn/Pluto last month. During breakfast with Ed Whitacre on Tuesday, Henderson asked Whitacre if he supported him. Whitacre said he did not. Mars in Leo exactly opposed Henderson’s Jupiter and the Gemini Full Moon opposed his natal Venus, reflecting that action would be taken concerning the tremendous philosophical differences the two had over how GM should be restructured. Fritz Henderson left GM at lunchtime.

Fritz Henderson was born with the Sun square Pluto in Virgo, but he was no match for Ed Whitacre who has the Sun in Pluto-ruled Scorpio square Pluto in Sun-ruled Leo. Mars ruled Scorpio before Pluto was discovered, and Whitacre has Mars in its “home” sign Aries harmonizing with Pluto in Leo. Whitacre’s planetary energies reflect an intensely strong-willed individual who is not afraid to go after what he wants (which includes killing rattlesnakes). Whitacre took over as CEO until a replacement for Henderson is found which Whitacre anticipates could take up to one year. Whitacre is right that he will be CEO for no more than one year, but he might not be Chairman by that time either.

GM was founded when the Sun was squaring Pluto, and Uranus turned direct Tuesday opposite GM’s Virgo Sun. Saturn and Libra are affecting GM’s progressed Sun in Capricorn. The Sun represents the leader of the company, and these planetary transits reflected GM’s abrupt change in leadership and the many changes taking place as part of its transformation.

The Federal Reserve is also undergoing a dramatic transformation as Saturn and Pluto affect the Fed’s Sun in Capricorn opposite Pluto in Cancer, along with the sector of the chart representing its reputation.

Thursday’s confirmation hearing to appoint Ben Bernanke to a second term as Fed Chairman did not go smoothly. The night before the hearing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) put a hold to block Bernanke’s nomination that would require 60 votes to override. Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) told Bernanke at the hearing: "You are the definition of a moral hazard. I will do everything I can to stop your nomination and drag out this process as long as I can."

In “Bernanke’s Confirmation ‘Not Necessarily’ A Done Deal,” I pointed out that with Uranus turning direct squaring his Jupiter, Bernanke places too much confidence in his academic theories. Uranus in Pisces is a wakeup call that new policies are needed now.

Uranus represents sudden and extreme price movements in either direction and Pisces rules bubbles. Saturn and Uranus squaring Bernanke’s Jupiter (foreign nations) shows there’s no change in Bernanke’s philosophy that carries on the Greenspan mantra that you mop up asset price bubbles after they pop. (This is why it is understandable Sen. Bunning made a Freudian slip, calling Bernanke “Greenspan” during the hearing.) First the Fed Chairman needs to be able to identify the bubble in the dollar carry trade he helped to create.

During questioning Bernanke said: “We do not see, at this point, any extreme mis-evaluation of assets in the United States. It is really not the United States’ responsibility to make sure there are no misalignments in every economy in the world when those countries have their own tools to address them."

Each time Bernanke is asked why the Fed agreed to pay AIG’s counterparties at par he has a different excuse. Thursday’s latest was that “most of the firms were foreign and we had no authority over them.” Bernanke said that “UBS offered a 2% discount if and only if all the counterparties accepted one and they did not.” Even Sen. Dodd who told Bernanke he supports his nomination, became frustrated with Bernanke’s responses to questions about AIG. Bernanke told him that after the Fed prevented AIG from going bankrupt the Fed lacked the leverage to threaten bankruptcy if the counterparties wouldn’t take haircuts. Yet a report by the inspector general overseeing the TARP criticizes the Fed for asking rather than demanding the banks take a haircut, a stark contrast to the Fed playing hardball with the banks to take TARP as one example.

The uniform message the Senate Banking Committee presented to Bernanke Thursday was that Congress and the public has had their fill of Fed enabled bubbles and the painful busts that follow. This is consistent with the cycle of Saturn opposing Uranus that began on Election Day 2008 and will continue through the summer of 2010. This cycle is about shaking up the status quo through dynamic changes that create a new foundation sustainable for the long term (Pluto in Capricorn).

Saturn represents life’s lessons, and it is clear that Fritz Henderson and Ben Bernanke have yet to learn that failure to adapt to the winds of change can cost you your job.

*A mathematical calculation that moves the planets forward in time as a method of prediction.

Frederick “Fritz” Henderson: November 29, 1958 time unknown Detroit, MI
Edward E. Whitacre: November 4, 1941 time unknown Ennis, TX
GM Founded: September 16, 1908 time unknown Flint, MI
Ben Bernanke: December 13, 1953 time unknown Augusta, GA
Federal Reserve: December 23, 1913 6:02 PM EST Washington, DC

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