It's easy to dismiss Henry Weingarten's Astrologers Fund as a joke. After all, Nancy Reagan was laughed at for consulting an astrologer during her husband's presidency. And the daily horoscope in the newspapers isn't terribly enlightening.
Still, the moon affects the tides from thousands of miles away and the sun creates most of the weather on earth. So, why can't the movements of the planets and the stars affect financial markets, too?
For instance, earlier this year Weingarten predicted there would be a major downdraft in the stock market on Aug. 28. It was the last total lunar eclipse, a technical and astrological convergence that culminated with the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
tumbling 280 points to test the 13,000 level.
Coincidence? Maybe. But it was enough to make me want to find out what Weingarten was predicting at his conference on Sept. 11, the day of the solar eclipse.
The Astrologers Fund isn't a mutual fund. It's an institutional fund that manages money for high-net worth individuals and institutions. Weingarten declines to say how much he has under management.
According to the fund's Web site, it returned 17% in July, 26% in August and was up 9.7% for the first two weeks of September. However, these are unaudited results.
Weingarten's head isn't solely in the stars. He uses a combination of technical analysis, fundamental analysis and astrological charting to make predictions on the direction of commodities, currencies and stocks. The New York money manager says that when all three converge, a major market move is usually in the works. And most of the time, he can determine its direction, he says.
"We use all the standard fundamental and technical tools, but astrology is most important," says Weingarten. "That's what makes us unique and allows us to capture market surprises most people don't see. It's out-of-the-box thinking." But he adds that if something is overwhelmingly undervalued on a fundamental basis, "I follow that. It depends on the situation."
Weingarten is also a gold bug. In ordinary times, that would be another strike against him. But these aren't ordinary times. Since 2001, when he first recommended that his clients buy gold, the yellow metal's price has surged more than 250%.
In early June, Weingarten predicted a major move up in the price of gold, but said that it needed to test support first. He said to watch June 27. That day, the price of gold fell $5.70 to $642.85, its lowest point in three months. It's been rallying ever since.
What are Weingarten's current predictions? Saturn and Neptune currently have an astrological configuration last seen during the housing crisis of 1989. The money manager says this is a "reality strikes" configuration. The idea is that most bull markets are based on incorrect assumptions; this configuration is usually a sign that a day of reckoning is at hand.
Weingarten says September and October won't be nice months for stock market bulls. While the bulls had a field day with the Fed's rate cut last week, he predicts there will be a "significant repricing of assets around Oct. 16."
He also predicts recessionary conditions will begin by the next quarter, and he's bearish on most commodities, with the notable exception of gold.
The fund manager recommends keeping as much money as possible in cash and staying defensive; trade in and out of the market, rather than buy and hold.
The fund manager is positive on Brazil and negative on India, because the latter market is very expensive. Also, the solar eclipse was visible over India, which Weingarten says "may take some of the shine off" this market.
He adds that homeland security stocks will rise while defense industry stocks will fall.
Not surprisingly, he believes investors should buy more gold. The money manager says $690, which until recently was a ceiling for the price of gold, will soon become its floor; he believes the metal could hit $850 by February. That prediction is based purely on technical analysis, but Weingarten says the astrological signs are also very good. His three- to five-year target for gold is $1,200.
On Friday, the gold December futures contract closed down $1 at $738.90, after hitting $747.10 intraday, a 27-year high.
Gold has been benefiting from the dollar's weakness; the U.S. Dollar Index dropped to 78.50 Friday. At Weingarten's Sept. 11 conference, when the index stood at 79.50, he forecast a drop to 78; not at a bad call in 10 days' time. He now says the index could fall even further, to between 70 and 75.
Weingarten notes that gold stocks always outperform pure gold on the way up, rising three to five times as much as the actual metal. Over the past month, the
StreetTracks Gold ETF
, which holds bullion, rose 11.7%. Meanwhile, the
International Investors Gold Fund (INIVX), the
Gold Fund (FSAGX) and the
Market Vectors Gold Miner's ETF
all surged about 29%.
Some of Weingarten's favorite mining stocks are
(which went public Thursday on the American Stock Exchange),
. All four companies have all made presentations at Astrologers Fund conferences.
Weingarten also likes silver, which bottomed out August 21 at $11.38 and closed Thursday at $13.47. He says it could rise to $16.80.
"I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he's right on the things he's interested in, like gold," says Joel Meyer, managing director of Meyer Associates, a New York money manager advisory firm. But Meyer says astrology hasn't served Weingarten well in areas the money manager doesn't follow as closely, such as oil and gas. "He's gotten them wrong," Meyer says.
In the past, Weingarten has run afoul of the
Securities and Exchange Commission
for failing to disclose that he received shares of a stock in exchange for promoting it on his Web site. He settled the case at the beginning of the decade, paying a $15,000 fine and agreeing to disclose the case on his Web site for a year. The disclosure is still there, and the money manager says investors should assume he owns everything he promotes.
here to watch video interviews with Weingarten.