While Elliott Wave theorists track human events through the ages to make their economic forecasts, one Orange County group takes an even less conventional approach: It bases its predictions on such indicators as weather patterns and the animal population.
The Foundation for the Study of Cycles is an Irvine group whose following includes investors, stock analysts, even a Nobel prize-winning economist, Maurice Allais. While it uses a different methodology, the Foundation makes some of the same predictions.
In its 51-year history the nonprofit organization has catalogued more than 4,500 cycles, including skirt lengths, church attendance and the grasshopper population. Even its membership of 2,500 goes up and down--in other words, it, too, is cyclical.
The Foundation says that social and natural developments often are interrelated. Such “synchrony” was discovered by Edward R. Dewey, the Harvard-educated economist in the Hoover Administration.
Dewey stumbled upon those links when he was studying the causes of the 1929 stock-market collapse. He found that economic swings were paralleled by ups and downs in the animal population and changes in the weather. In 1941, he formed the foundation for the purpose of finding and measuring those cycles.
“When the first man stumbled out of a cave and and saw the winter came every year, he learned to make coats,” said Richard Mogey, executive director of the Foundation. “He also discovered a cycle.”
Like the Elliott Wave Institute in Laguna Beach, the Foundation foresaw the 1987 stock-market crash, which, ironically, came on the same day that the Foundation was moving its headquarters from New York to Irvine.
Even earthquakes are part of the pattern. In 1990, at a Foundation meeting, Santa Clara County geologist Jim Berkland predicted an earthquake within a few days of Feb. 25. There was a 5.5 quake on Feb. 28.
How did he do it? He tracked the numbers of missing pets reported, an indication of erratic animal behavior.
Now, in some of its more cosmic work, the Foundation is reaching for the stars.
“Most major cycles in the economy and with interest rates are influenced by planetary and social phenomenon,” Mogey said.
There’s little mention of Virgo or Sagittarius in this work. In fact, some members fear an influx of astrologers that could damage the 2,500-member group’s reputation. Rather, the link is sun spots, which scientists say affects the Earth’s climate. That, in turn, affects agriculture, which determines food prices, which influence the Consumer Price Index, which tracks inflation, which affects interest rates, then the Dow.
According to that sequence, the economy is in for some major changes. According to the Foundation, the sun is making a rare “backward” motion in relation to the center of the solar system. Only twice in the past 1,300 years has it done so. Both of those periods, in the 1630s and 1810s, were cataclysmic and included explosive volcanic activity.
Because of that, an article in the Foundation’s Cycles magazine four years ago predicted that the 1990s would bring hurricanes, tornadoes, floods--and volcanic eruptions, especially between 1993 and 1999.
Evidence: hurricanes Hugo in 1989, and Andrew and Iniki this year.
And Mount Pinatubo’s eruption last year was followed by this year’s cold summer in the Midwest, Mogey said, in much the same way that the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia led to “the year without a summer” in 1816, when the northern latitudes had late, crop-damaging freezes. That, of course, pushed up food prices, leading to inflation.
Not surprisingly, then, Mogey is predicting a significant rise in inflation starting later this year.
“Upon that issue everything turns,” he said. “How else are they going to get rid of the debt?”
And it gets worse, said Mogey, 49, a UCI graduate. He predicts that “all hell will break loose” between 1994 and 1996.
“It will be a much more serious recession,” he said. (By contrast, founder Glenn Neely of the Elliott Wave Institute predicts tough but stable times in the near future).
But Mogey, too, expects a rebirth ahead, possibly by the turn of the century. People will focus on ideas, rejecting ‘80s-style materialism, he says. Church membership will increase, and the bar scene will lose its appeal.
“Every genre in art is bankrupt,” Mogey said. “The feeling is that every note has been written, every play performed. This is a precursor to a significant change, a rebirth.”
And how about the topic on everyone’s mind, the presidential election? Mogey mentions a host of factors that could affect the outcome, including interest rates and the stock market’s close on the day before the election.
Calling the winner might be even simpler than that, though: “You don’t need to be a seer to show that George Bush is in trouble,” Mogey said.