Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Is Bitcoin the new gold for the internet age?

The virtual currency Bitcoin (symbol: BTC) is riding high on a lot buzz right now.  And with good reason.  On November 29th, the value of one Bitcoin ($1242) briefly exceeded the value of an ounce of gold which traded at $1240 on that day.  It was a potential watershed moment in the sudden explosive rise of Bitcoin which was launched back in January 2009.  At that time, one Bitcoin had a value of less than a tenth of a cent.  The explanation for the growing popularity of the currency is related to several factors -- the growth of online commerce, the recognition of the need for an alternative to government-issued fiat currencies which are prone to debasement over time, and a desire by some users for anonymous online transactions which no other currency or payment method currently satisfies.  But is Bitcoin just a newly-minted Ponzi scheme that is doomed to collapse or does Bitcoin represent a viable alternative to gold as a store of value?

From an astrological perspective, Bitcoin presents some intriguing challenges of interpretation.  While we have very precise recorded times for the different phases of its inception and launch, we do not have any idea of where these events took place.  True to its anonymous peer-to-peer nature, no one has claimed responsibility for the invention of Bitcoin.  Its putative creator is "Satoshi Nakamoto", but this is actually a pseudonym and does not refer to a particular person.  Bitcoin's libertarian creed makes it stand apart from any central authority and in order to prevent any control and regulation of this new currency, its creator(s) decided to remain out of public view.  Until the creator steps forward, we will never know who, or more importantly, where Bitcoin was launched. Several journalistic investigations have come up with various possible creators including programmers based in Dublin and Tokyo. 

In astrological terms, this creates a problem where its place of origin remains unknown as it is impossible to cast an accurate horoscope.  In lieu of any known place of birth for Bitcoin, I think it may worth using Silicon Valley, the focus on the internet world, as the de facto birthplace and point of reference for Bitcoin.  While it probably wasn't invented there, its resonance is perhaps more strongly felt there than anywhere else in the world.  In that sense, a Bitcoin chart based in San Jose, California would at least reflect its crucial importance for the burgeoning world of e-commerce and internet technology.   The San Jose-based Bitcoin chart is therefore a very useful relocated chart that may reveal both its nature as well as its trajectory in the past and the future. 

There are several possible candidates for the definitive Bitcoin inception and launch.  The first trade (in order to buy a pizza!), the first established online market place, the registering of the domain name bitcoin.org as well as several others.  No doubt all of these "firsts" would reveal something interesting and useful about the reality of Bitcoin as a phenomenon.  From my admittedly cursory reading on the subject, my sense is that the creation of the so-called "Genesis block" of programming code for Bitcoin was the most important moment in the creation of this peer-to-peer currency.  As I understand it, a genesis block is the first "block chain" or code of a shared computer database necessary to conduct transactions.  This first functional written software code was the essence of Bitcoin and allowed users to trade.   This Bitcoin Genesis block was created on 3 January 2009 at 18:15:05 GMT (place unknown). 

The first thing a horoscope should do is reflect the nature of the entity that is birthed at that moment.  As we can see using our San Jose-based chart, Venus and Uranus were rising in the 1st house in Aquarius.  This is a very nice reflection of Bitcoin's essence.  Venus symbolizes money and value, Uranus symbolizes technology, speed and innovation, while Aquarius is the zodiacal embodiment of scientific advancement.  While the conjunction is rather wide, the Ascendant is straddled by Venus and Uranus and thus Bitcoin can be properly seen as a thing that governs money through science and technology.  Not bad! 

We can also note that Mercury, Jupiter and Rahu (North Node) are all conjoined in the 12th house in Capricorn.  This suggests a thing that typifies communication and computers (Mercury) with the application of knowledge (Jupiter) used in an unusual (Rahu) way that is outside of the mainstream or otherwise isolated (12th house).  Although it is making headlines now, Bitcoin is still controversial as many governments don't know what to do with it.  Illegal activities such as drug dealing and money laundering (Rahu/12th house) may be facilitated by Bitcoin which operates outside of any regulatory framework or tax agreement.

Now why has the value of Bitcoin exploded in the past several months?  I think there are a few reasons.  First, we can see that transiting Neptune has conjoined Venus in the 1st house.  Neptune-Venus conjunctions produce generally positive situations as Neptune imparts hopes and dreams to Venus' sense of value.  While it is often positive, the risk that it is a bubble is also greatly increased since Neptune is associated with illusions and fantasies.  These illusions are often only laid bare after Neptune has departed Venus and some other more malefic pattern is set up in the chart.  Since Neptune moves very slowly, the waning influence of Neptune on Venus will occur very gradually and may take anywhere from 6 to 18 months.

The second factor that stands out is transiting Jupiter.  Jupiter is the Great Benefic of course, and its entry into sidereal Gemini in June 2013 coincided with the latter stage of its parabolic increase from $250 to $1250.  As Jupiter transits Gemini, it aspects several key planets in the Bitcoin chart.  It is opposite the Sun-Mars conjunction in the 11th house (gains).  It is also trine (120 degrees/5 houses) the Ascendant, Venus and Uranus.  The retrograde station in November occurred almost exactly trine to Uranus at 26 Gemini. 

The immediate future for Bitcoin would seem to be fairly good as transiting Venus is due to station retrograde on 21 December exactly conjunct the natal Jupiter.  This conjunction of two benefic planets will likely equate to further increases in the price -- probably to new highs.  Even if Bitcoin declines somewhat after that hit, we can see that Venus will station direct in late January at 19 Sagittarius which is exactly conjunct the natal Sun.  This is another positive hit in the chart which suggests continued interest and possibly more upside. 

One possible source of concern is the approach of the conjunction of Pluto to the natal Sun.  Pluto often brings about power plays that feature some notion of control.  It is therefore more likely that Bitcoin will become subject to increased governmental scrutiny in early to mid-2014 as this Pluto conjunction takes root.  This could be a two-edged sword.  On one hand, any intervention and regulation would be seen as negative by some libertarian users.  However, it is also possible that some kind of intervention or oversight may actually serve to broaden the base of Bitcoin users and thereby enhance its value. 

Bitcoin may become more susceptible to declines later in 2014 and in 2015 when Saturn enters Scorpio.  In so doing, it will be in aspect with Jupiter and Mercury by 3rd house aspect and will also form a Western square aspect with Venus and the Ascendant.  Both of these aspects are likely negative and are likely to coincide with a bursting of the bubble.  The Bitcoin natal chart is still strong enough that this may only be the initial chapters in a longer Bitcoin story.  If and when the bubble bursts, there will be future increases and greater popularity down the road for the up and coming virtual currency. Who knows -- it may yet unseat gold as the more reliable store of value away from any government meddling.   The Bitcoin story is only just beginning.

As expected, financial markets generally rose last week as the Venus-Jupiter aspect midweek offset any early losses from the Mercury-Saturn influence.  The Dow edged higher to 16,064. Indian stocks slipped a bit as taper worries pushed the Sensex down to 20,217. 

As I forecast in this week's MVA subscriber newsletter, stocks would generally be weaker in the early going.  This has been borne out so far in US and European markets as the Dow has fallen below 16,000 in early Tuesday trading at the time of writing.  I would expect some kind of reversal higher to take place by midweek as the Moon conjoins Venus so there is a decent chance of a rebound.   On Friday, all eyes will be on the US November jobs report which could persuade the Fed to begin to taper QE.  If the jobs number is strong enough (+200K), then that could move markets.  Venus enters Capricorn ("methodical money") on Thursday and Friday so that is one bullish influence to consider. But Mercury is square Neptune (confusion) which is usually negative.   So the planets look somewhat equivocal here although I would think that if Thursday is clearly higher, then that would increase the odds for some selling on Friday.