Gen Z loves astrology and tarot. Now the stock-obsessed generation is using vibes to day-trade (2024)

Some investors may ask their brokers for trading advice. Young people are consulting the stars and sky.

Stefaniya Nova, who goes by @blonderichwitch on TikTok, is a 25-year-old living in New York City using astrology, tarot, and “intuition” to guide her day trading.

“After scanning the market from 8:30AM till 9AM and picking the stock I’ll be trading that day (today it was Amazon), I do a single card pull to confirm my decision or get guidance,” she says in one video. “Today I pulled the Ace of Cups, which represents abundance; this gave me the needed assurance to trust in my strategy.”

The process seems to be working for her. On the next slide of her TikTok, Nova posts a screenshot of her portfolio from the day, showing an almost $300 gain from trading Amazon shares. “21% return in 8 minutes by trusting my high self :heart:,” she writes. In another video, she posts a screenshot of her monthly earnings of almost $6,000.

Nova is one of many TikTokers to ascribe their financial success to their trust in the universe—touting techniques like using lunar cycles to buy Bitcoin and astrology to make $440,000 in crypto trading. The practice, while far-fetched compared to the conventional strategies of sophisticated investors, is at the intersection of Gen Z’s love of vibes and financial freedom.

“It’s a new way of making money,” Nova told Fortune. “New possibilities for people: that you don’t have to, in this day and age, work as hard. Work smarter, not harder.”

Following the stars has worked out for Nova. She quit her job as a tarot reader and astrology consultant this year to day-trade, finding it a more consistent stream of income and earning about $5,000 a month. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for everyone, one expert warns.

“In financial markets, you shouldn’t be making decisions broadly based on perceptions of things,” Samuel Hartzmark, a professor of behavioral finance at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, told Fortune.

He added, “If this stuff really did predict higher returns, then there’s lots of market participants who would probably be using it as signals in their portfolio.”

It’s in the stars

Nova shrugs at dissenters. Some people find success in looking at candlestick charts of the market. She can do the same looking at a deck of cards and planetary alignments.

“Everything in the world is a cycle—the stock market, seasons, and astrology,” Nova said. “As I got more into astrology, into tarot, into intuition, all of that, I saw the correlation that I’m not the only one who’s being affected by these energetic influences.”

For example, Nova said on Friday, she would avoid making any trading decisions at 1 p.m. because the moon was in a void stage, meaning it was not associated with a particular zodiac sign and had no influence on other celestial bodies. One should avoid making decisions in these periods, Nova said. Instead, she waited for an hour, at which point the moon was in Virgo. After checking the market and making a tentative decision around a trade, Nova will confirm her decision, asking herself the question: “What’s best for you in your soul?”

Hartzmark, the professor, says he doesn’t condone astrology and tarot as a day-trading strategy, but understands why people gravitate toward it.

“The illusion of control,” he said. “Financial decisions are complicated and scary.”

Choices regarding money are different from other choices people make on a daily basis, he explained. The options are overwhelming, leading people to turn to any form of guidance available to gain clarity. Oversimplified logic about which stocks to day-trade is one means of doing this, as exemplified by the theory that stock-picking monkeys could perform just as well as sophisticated investors because of the inherent inconsistency of the market. You shouldn’t buy Apple stock just because you like the iPhone, for example, Hartzmark argued. Decisions on buying stock, particularly day trading, should instead be based upon knowing something other traders don’t, or having evidence that the iPhone is more valuable than what the market has priced it.

“A lot of fads and vibes and things like that really are just similar examples of, ‘This sounds like a good story,’” Hartzmark said.

Gen Z, young people finishing college and finding their footing in the professional world, are particularly vulnerable to these trends, he added.

Warding off bad vibes

Of course, the desire to control their uncertain future is one of the major reasons why Gen Z has fallen in love with investing in the first place. Driven by the fear of missing out and determination to escape the corporate rat race, over 70% of the generation owns stock, according to NASDAQ, more than prior generations at the same life stage. With apps like Robinhood at their fingertips, Gen Z also has the tools to invest cheaply and conveniently, catapulting them to trade earlier than older generations.

Joyee Yang, 25, a financial influencer who has over $150,000 in assets and 131,000 followers on TikTok, told Fortune she turned to the stock market to become financially independent after getting kicked out of her parents’ house at 19, forcing her to move into an apartment with three roommates.

“I very quickly learned that, holy crap, I’m in this world alone, and I need to either make more money or make my money work for me,” she said.

Yang believes she shares the attitudes of many members of Gen Z, who are looking to gain financial stability in a landscape they view as largely unstable. Only 30% of the generation feels optimistic about the economy, according to an April report by ID verification platform SheerID, with over 70% feeling the need to stretch budgets or hunt for discounts. Investing, Yang argued, is a way to alleviate that panic.

“Gen Z is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Yang said. “They’re not entirely on their own, or they don’t have to work for every single dollar that they earn.”

While financial influencers like Yang have shared their investment success stories online, greater access to stock trading platforms and the proliferation of online chatter about investment has also led to great deals of misinformation. Research platform WallStreetZen found that nearly two-thirds of StockTok videos, or stock-related videos on TikTok, were misleading, per a January report. Those videos garnered 21.5 million likes and 194 million views.

Patterns of the universe

But TikTok and Gen Z didn’t conjure up skewed ideas about investment strategies from nowhere. There is, in fact, some historic precedent to StockTok’s vibe-based day-trading wisdom.

J.P. Morgan famously said, “Millionaires don’t use astrology, billionaires do.” Even the American financier trusted the stars to guide his decisions: Rumor has it he canceled his scheduled trip on the Titanic last-minute because his astrologer warned against it.

William Delbert Gann, an investor who made his fortune in the early 20th century, became renowned for using astrology, ancient mathematics, and geometry to inform his business decisions. Using certain angles, Gann claimed to predict market trends and identify the perfect time to buy shares. His charts are still accessible today, though the validity of his philosophy is hotly contested.

“After exhaustive research and investigations of the known sciences,” Gann said in a 1909 interview, “I discovered that the law of vibration enabled me to accurately determine the exact points at which stocks or commodities should rise and fall within a given time.”

If you look at the correlation between the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling and days with total solar eclipse, you could—for a moment—forgive Gann for his eccentric ideals. On or shortly after five of the seven total solar eclipses visible in the U.S. since 1932, the Dow Jones fell, according to an analysis by Axios. Of course, there is another, less vibe-forward explanation: The economy is often affected by eclipses, as people travel to witness the event, disrupting travel and usual spending behaviors.

Hartzmark still isn’t convinced of Gann’s dogma. Guys like Gann are bound to success sometimes, he said, simply because the base rate of success for day trading is so low to begin with. A 2004 study that Hartzmark still cites, from researchers at the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis, and National Chengchi University in Taipei, Taiwan, found that, of 130,000 individual investors, more than 80% lost money in the practice. The few who made money didn’t do so consistently.

With the likelihood of day-trading success already so low, you can’t just attribute success to sophisticated investing strategies, Hartzmark argued. Some of it will be luck and circ*mstances. For the few who get rich and lean on unconventional strategies to do it, it’s easy to attribute wealth to that. It’s a phenomenon that’s been around for hundreds of years.

“The psychology here is nothing new,” he said. “How it manifests itself is a little bit different due to technological change and things like that, but I don’t think that Gen Z deserves a particularly bad rap.”

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Gen Z loves astrology and tarot. Now the stock-obsessed generation is using vibes to day-trade (2024)
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