Economics and what the stars portend for the New Year
This year The Sunday Times FT decided to see the New Year in, in a rather unusual fashion. So we consulted the traditional system for some economic forecasts.
The ancient system, of predicting the future by the path of the stars, is so old it pre-dates Buddhism in the island. But, despite the advent of the ICT age and modern management tools, traditional astrology it is still held in great respect by the local business community.
So over the last week we consulted three very well known astrologers, who declined to be named, for a forecast of the island economy and business activities for the New Year. As in the case of the economists, the astrologers too, have different interpretations of the signs. However, overall, the coming year is not seen to bring large profits to most sectors of the economy and economic hardship is predicted for consumers, workers and businesses alike.
The astrologers also talk about the psychological impacts of a weak economy.
As one astrologer explained; “Economic difficulties will mentally affect people. People will feel angry, frustrated and dissatisfied. So this will influence how people behave and people’s behaviour will again impact the economy.”
They point out that economic pressures will increase dissatisfaction and anger resulting in increased violence and more illegal activities. Therefore, the astrologers advocate dharmishta (righteous) behaviour in all business activities. Good business ethics may not bring profits this year, say the astrologers, but they will lead to strong business partnerships that will lead to stability and growth in the future.
“On February 21, there was a lunar eclipse in the house of Leo. Leo represents the government.
There will be a semi-lunar eclipse on August 17, in Aquarius (Kumbha), Sri Lanka’s astrological sign. So the signs are not auspicious for both the government and the country. As a result the economy will suffer,” said one astrologer.
In addition, natural disasters, road accidents, corruption and enemy activities are expected to add to economic pressures.
However, our astrologers maintain that the New Year is not all bad. The economy will have its ups and downs throughout the year with short periods of relief and periods of acute difficulties.
“I am not saying all the businesses will close down. It is not all bad times only. Businesses will fall down but will also get up again. So it is not a year of overall growth,” explained one astrologer.
The astrologers also say the dawning of the New Year takes place among auspicious signs, indicating that hardships will be softened.
Inflation and cost of living
“There is influence of rahu (dragon’s head) in the house of Aquarius, Sri Lanka’s sign. This will weaken the economy through a high rate of inflation and erosion of wealth,” said one astrologer.
“Workers will not be satisfied. So employers will have a difficult time. The whole country will feel that their incomes are not enough,” said another.
Despite difficulties, the economy will also generate opportunities. This year the planet Venus (Sikuru) and the moon will side with two traditionally weak elements in the local economy – women and artistes.
“The power of Venus and the moon means it is a good time for the arts, artistes and creativity activities. It is a time to develop creative skills and these talents will also be more recognised this year,” said one astrologer.
“The time is especially good for women and women entrepreneurs,” said another.
Although remittances and foreign funds in the form of aid and loans, will continue to flow in, external support is seen to reduce.
“Foreign support for the country may reduce. But there will still be inflows of money that will help alleviate economic pressures,” said one astrologer.
“We will continue to get foreign funds and investments, but it will not be enough,” said another. “Inward remittances will not increase significantly. Although it is a good year for women in Sri Lanka, women going abroad will face problems,” said the third.
The agriculture sector got the best reading for the year. The astrologers say the earth will be good to the average Sri Lankan this year. “It is a good year for activities related to the earth. So this means there will be renewed interest in agriculture,” said one. “Agricultural activities will show growth. More people will return to agriculture. The yields will increase, but again, as in the case of the rest of the economy, what is produced will still not be enough for our needs,” said another.
“The earth will be good to us this year by yielding more good things,” said the third.
Export crops like tea and rubber are seen to benefit during the year. However, the coconut sector is seen to be backward compared to tea and rubber.
Tourism got a poor, if predictable reading.
“Tourism will remain depressed until the end of this year. By December 2008, things will start to improve again for this sector,” said one.
“There may be improvements but tourism will not be a success this year,” said another.
The garment industry, although not seen to be making astronomical profits, got a fairly good reading compared to business health in general.
“The garment industry will benefit, mostly because of its strong links to women. The year is good for women and creative activities. So it is a good year to develop design and creativity skills. But this is not a year that shows large profits,” said one astrologer.
“The garment industry will continue on its way. It will not grow very much but it will carry on,” said another.
Stars on the GSP+
We also checked on the fate of the EU’s GSP+ trade scheme, but our astrologers refused to take the bait.
“The government must be careful how they handle things. Some periods of the year is not good for national leaders and overall the year does not indicate economic success. So this is the time to think before they act,” said one astrologer.
“There will be many opportunities for the country if the government can act intelligently,” said another.
Overall, 2008/09 is a year for some rational decision making.
As one astrologer put it; “The stars can only indicate what is possible. It is up to the individual how they act. So for people that use their brains, this can be a very good year.”
With those words of wisdom from the stars, we wish all our readers a Subha Aluth Avuruddak.