**Here We Go Again …**

Most readers probably recall the early March 2009 low in the S&P 500 Index. The state of market confidence and the extent of the bullish consensus evident at the time was essentially a mirror image of what we are seeing today. How despondent traders were is probably best illustrated by the fact that on the day the low was put in, the DSI (daily sentiment index) of futures traders had declined to just 3% bulls – the lowest reading in history. There was almost no-one left who could possibly still turn bearish at that point.

William Blake’s painting “The Number of the Beast is 666”.

However, numerologists were probably quite fascinated with *where* exactly the SPX actually bottomed. For some reason, the market picked *Ἀριθμὸς τοῦ θηρίου (Arithmos tou Thēriou), a.k.a. *the *Number of the Beast* for putting in the low (if one ignores the numbers after the decimal). This was very Babylonian of the market.

Hmmm… what would make a good low? – via StockCharts, click to enlarge.

For those worried about the bestial purity of this low, so to speak, due to the numbers after the decimal point, you obviously don’t know that numerologists have an answer for everything. What is 79? If you add up 7 and 9, you get 16.

Even though St. Irenaeus, an early Church Father and the bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, affirmed in the 2^{nd} century that the number of the beast was indeed 666 (ΧΞϚ), and muttered darkly about previous “erroneous transcriptions”, there remain some doubts. For instance, *Papyrus 115*, a fragment of the Revelation discovered by Grenfell and Hunt in Oxyrhynchus in Egypt, as well as the *Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus*, point to 616 (ΧΙϚ) as the correct number. So with 666.79, the market has made doubly sure, as you can now have it both ways (after a little bit of creative addition).

The fragment of Papyrus 115 that contains the “616” transcription.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

**Now it is Gold’s Turn**

So what does any of this have to do with gold? As a friend pointed out to us yesterday, as of November 9 2015, the gold ETF GLD had exactly *666.11 tons* left in its inventory (the data can be downloaded here).

Fine, you might say, but what about the two 1s after the decimal point? Well, didn’t we tell you that numerologists have an answer for *everything*? Once again, all that is required is a little bit of imagination. 11 times 6 is 66, but more importantly, in the Babylonian numeration system *the symbols for 1 and 60 are exactly the same*. For numbers higher than 59, the Babylonians employed a place value system based on 60.

Thus, “61” would be written by jotting down the symbol for “1”, leaving a space and again jotting down the symbol for “1”. The first symbol meant “60”, the second meant “1”, with the space indicating that what was expressed was “61” instead of “2”. *Et voila*! Now, all you have to do is switch the places of 6 and 1, and you can once again have it both ways (i.e., “666” and “616”).

Incidentally, for the number “3600” the Babylonians also used the same symbol they used for 1 and 60. And as is well known, 36 is of course 6 times 6, and if one adds up all the numbers from 1 to 36 one arrives at…666!

Babylonian numbers – similar symbols were used for 1, 60 and 3600.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

So obviously 666.11 will do. In fact, in many ways it is even more perfect than 666.79. Besides their sun god (who went by the name of *Shamash*), the Babylonians had 36 lesser deities (numbered from 1 through 36, according to their significance). They believed these numbers had power over their deities and Babylonian priests therefore wore so-called “sun seals”, containing a magic square on one side and an image of the sun god Shamash on the other.

A modern representation of the sun seal with Arabic numerals looks like this:

Sun seal modeled after the amulets worn by Babylonian priests

The 36 numbers in the magic square representing the sun are arranged in a certain pattern. It looks as follows:

Magic square representing the sun

If one adds up the numbers in any row or column, the result is always “111”. 6 rows, resp. 6 columns times 111 equals *666*. We can see here how scribes working for ancient bible text transcription service companies may have gotten confused over the 666 vs. 616 question from time to time. So yes, 666.11 will definitely do.

Gods and demons of ancient Babylon

Image via Wikimedia Commons

**Conclusion**

All of this is of course entirely meaningless fun, but on the upside, some of you have probably learned something new (e.g., you have now heard about St. Ireneaus, Papyrus 115, and the ancient Babylonian numeration system, which may not have happened otherwise).

This reminds us that according to a European TV show, the “Euro Millions” jackpot has been set at precisely *111 million euro *this week. Maybe we should punt and buy 6 tips? And buy some gold too, while we’re at it. Shamash would surely be on our side.

### Addendum:

If you are scared of the number of the beast, you suffer from a condition known as *hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia. *

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The Babylonian magic square is of 6-th order (that is, it has 6 rows and columns). It is not the only possible magic square (i.e., a square arrangement of consecutive numbers so that the sums of every column, row and diagonal are the same). As far as I remember, nobody really knows how many 6-th order magic squares are possible, but their number definitely exceeds hundreds of millions. (The number of possible magic squares of 5th order is 275,305,224.)

The sum, 111, is called the constant of the magic square. When the numbers in it are consecutive numbers starting from 1, the constant depends on the order of the square – that is, all possible magic squares of order 6 have one and the same constant – 111.

Pater …. yes and all incorporated into good marketing. People don’t think. They feel first and then rationalize in hindsight.

It’s entertaining , while being valuable, to watch people and how they act/react to the carrot versus the stick.

The image of the beast and the mark of the beast seems to constantly overshadow the mark of the Lamb.

Are we gluttons for bad news when good news is right in front of us ?

This post shouldn’t be taken too seriously, although it does contain some interesting (I hope so, anyway) and factual information. It stuck with me that the S&P 500 bottomed out at 666 in 2009, and when I heard that GLD’s inventory had declined to 666 tons, it immediately reminded me of that noteworthy close in the SPX. At first I simply wanted to post a brief message pointing this numerical synchronicity out, but my inner Adrian Monk was unhappy with the imprecision introduced by the numbers after the decimal point. So I started thinking about how to go about incorporating them into a neat compulsive-obsessive numerological whole. Add a dash of mysticism, mathematics, history and popular memes, shake well, and there it is.